(Las Vegas, Nev.) Thursday marked the end of yet another compelling Billboard Latin Music Week. What began in 1990 as a single concert has steadily grown into Latin music’s leading series of Q&As, panels, and showcases, all culminating in the 26th annual Billboard Latin Music Awards. Billboard’s vice president and Latin industry lead, Leila Cobo, reflected excitedly on the star-studded event series saying, “Billboard has believed and invested in Latin music for over 30 years, long before it was fashionable. Now, Latin music is the biggest growing genre in the world and we are proud to have been a part of that history, present and future. This year’s conference and awards truly highlighted the best in Latin music.”
As part of its growing commitment to creating feel-good moments for Latin music lovers, McDonald’s was an integral supporter throughout the week. Over the course of the four-day conference, the brand brought fans together by providing access to an array of music experiences at the annual En Vivo concert and the Billboard Latin Music Awards.
Below are a few of the standout moments from Latin Music Week 2019:
At the BBLMAs, a lucky Wisin fan stole the show:
The Billboard Latin Music Awards were full of heartfelt moments though the happiest person at the Mandalay Bay Events Center that evening wasn’t a nominee, but a fan. Becky Garcia, the former president of the Wisin and Yandel fan club, “Las Dinamicas,” was the beneficiary of a special McDonald’s sponsored VIP experience that was capped off at the BBLMAs. As part of that experience, Garcia got the chance to share her adoration for Wisin firsthand during an exclusive backstage meet & greet and red-carpet fan zone integration. Garcia was ecstatic while recounting the opportunity of a lifetime. “I’ve admired Wisin ever since I listened to Rakatá for the first time. I honestly can’t believe McDonald’s gave me the chance to enjoy an exclusive experience alongside him tonight. This is something I don’t think I could ever forget.”
Once the show was underway, the BBLMAs delivered some predictable wins and a few surprising upsets, though no one was shocked to see Ozuna dominate. When all was said and done, the Puerto Rican superstar became the winningest artist in the history of the awards, walking away with victories in 11 categories including artist of the year and top Latin albums artist of the year, male.
After the party was the after party:
The evening was far from over even after the last award was handed out. Gears shifted as the crowd made its way to Caesar’s Palace for the BBLMAs after party to catch sets from up and comers like Elisama and Mariah Angeliq before Bad Bunny thrilled the audience, performing several hits from his chart-topping debut album X 100PRE. Once the clock struck midnight, the energy climbed ten-fold as DJ Lafame cued a beaming McDonald’s inspired light show. The spectacle was followed by a procession of the brand’s world-famous fries being distributed throughout the venue and satisfying the cravings of every fan in the building.
McDonald’s raised the crowd’s spirits before Anitta brought the house down:
Fans were treated to an assortment of surprises at the annual En Vivo showcase featuring Brazilian superstar Anitta. Ahead of her jaw-dropping performance, the Drai’s Beachclub & Nightclub audience flocked to the famed Golden Arches that flanked a memorable photo moment where each attendee would get to show off their best DJ impersonations. With burgers in hand, the crowd turned its focus to model and influencer Leli Hernandez who opted to show off a dance move or two in front of the gold turntables. She spoke fondly of her moment at the custom booth. “I never realized clubbing gets that much better when you add McNuggets to the mix, lesson learned!”
As the night turned to morning, anticipation built for Anitta’s headlining set. The lights dropped to indicate an end to the wait, and a thunderous applause rang out as Anitta took the stage with her team of dancers in tow. From there on, the entire venue was in constant motion as the, “Bola Rebola” singer captivated with her voice and entranced with her signature choreography. She immersed the audience in the vibrant overtones of her newly released visual album, Kisses, performing hits like her Swae Lee assisted single, “Poquito” before calling surprise guest Sofia Reyes to the stage to perform their anthemic record, “R.I.P.”
Ozuna opened up about Nibiru:
In a one on one conversation with Leila Cobo, the Latin Trap star looked back on his historic 2018 run that was punctuated by the release of his chart-topping sophomore album Aura. The “Me Niego” singer was expressive, seemingly speaking a thousand words a minute as he reflected on his upbringing, his love for making music and the deep gratitude he has for his rapidly growing fan base. With hundreds of eyes and cameras locked on his every word, he teased his eager audience with a few sparing details surrounding his forthcoming 3rd studio album Nibiru, adjusting his volt green bag before sharing, “In May my fans will identify with this album. It’s about my past, today, and where I’m going in the future.”
Latin music’s leading women called for change:
Superstars and BBLMA nominees Anitta, Becky G, Karol G, Lali, and Natti Natasha graced the stage alongside executives Alexandra Lioutikoff of Universal Music, Luana Pagaini of Seitrack USA, and Dr. Stacy Smith of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, for an in-depth discussion on the growing role of women across Latin music. Smith was poignant in discussing the results of a recent Annenberg study that uncovered only 4% of charting songwriters are women. “There’s no excuse for 4% female songwriters. They’re out there, they’re everywhere, they’re in this room.” Becky G echoed the sentiment. “It’s not that there’s a lack of amazing female songwriters or producers, it’s the lack of opportunity and for me changing that would be the goal.” The goal she spoke of felt a step closer to realization as Cobo concluded the panel with the announcement that She Is the Music, a nonprofit that aims to create opportunities for women across the industry, will be rolling out a Latin music focused committee.