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The 10 Biggest Latin Music Stories of 2022: Bad Bunny’s Blockbuster Year, Karol G Sets Touring Record & More

From record revenue to a breakthrough lineup at Coachella, Latin music made a remarkable showing this year.

Much has been written about Bad Bunny‘s remarkable year, but he’s not the only Latin artist who made headlines in 2022. From Karol G‘s record-setting tour to Coachella featuring the most Latin acts ever on the lineup to Daddy Yankee‘s manager going to prison, the year was chock-full of big news in Latin music. Here are the 10 stories that helped define the genre’s biggest year yet.

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Year of the Bunny

With a smash-hit album and two back-to-back, record-breaking tours this year, Bad Bunny redefined success for a modern Latin artist. The Puerto Rican hitmaker had his biggest year to date, finishing out 2022 as Billboard’s top artist of the year and releasing the first all-Spanish album (Un Verano Sin Ti) to be ranked No. 1 on the Billboard 200 year-end albums chart. He also finished as the year’s top touring act — making him the first Latin act to do so — with a total gross of $373.5 million from 1.8 million tickets sold across 65 shows (the combination of El Ultimo Tour Del Mundo and World’s Hottest Tour). But the superstar wasn’t done yet, as year-end tracking ended while he was still in the middle of the Latin American leg of World’s Hottest Tour. After finally wrapping that run on Dec. 10 in Mexico City, he closed 2022 with a record-breaking $435 million in tour grosses on the Billboard Boxscore charts. Named Spotify’s most-streamed artist globally for the third consecutive year and Apple Music’s 2022 artist of the year, Bunny’s genre-hopping Un Verano Sin Ti also made history last month when it became the first Spanish-language album ever to be nominated for the Grammy Award for album of the year. 

That One Time Latin Music Surpassed Country  

In its first streaming week in May, Bad Bunny’s Un Verano Sin Ti (which spent 13 nonconsecutive weeks atop the Billboard 200) accounted for 18% of all U.S. Latin on-demand streams, pushing the genre’s streaming market share past country for the first time ever and resulting in its highest streaming week to date with over 1.8 billion weekly ODA streams. That’s bigger than any weekly streaming total for the country genre so far, according to Luminate.

Karol G Sets New Touring Record 

This year, Colombian powerhouse Karol G made touring history with her ambitious $trip Love Tour. The trek finished its run as the highest U.S.-grossing tour ever by a female Latin act, grossing $69.9 million and selling 410,000 tickets across 33 shows in North America, according to Billboard Boxscore. With $Trip Love, the “Provenza” singer surpassed the totals earned by Jennifer Lopez‘s $50 million grossing It’s My Party World Tour in 2019 and Shakira‘s 2018 El Dorado World Tour, which grossed $28.2 million. Karol’s AEG-produced arena tour followed last year’s Bichota Tour — the superstar’s first-ever headlining trek in the U.S. — which grossed $13.4 million and sold 192,000 tickets across 26 shows in North America.

Postponed Tours 

Not all Latin touring efforts ended in success stories. J Balvin, Anuel AA and Ozuna postponed their 2022 tours for a multitude of reasons, from production challenges to personal matters. In April, just seven days before his CMN-produced Jose tour was set to kick off, Balvin took to social media to deliver the news of its cancellation to his millions of followers. “COVID has caused some unforeseen production challenges, and I wouldn’t be able to keep my promise of giving you the absolute best show possible, he wrote in English and Spanish. In July, Anuel announced that he was rescheduling the Las Leyendas Nunca Mueren U.S. tour — presented by CMN and slated to kick off in August — to 2023. In a statement, the Puerto Rican artist explained that he was pushing back the tour to focus on personal matters. “I’ve been thinking that I need to take some time to recharge my batteries,” he said, noting his desire to “reorganize” his personal life and career. (New dates have already been announced for next year.) On the other hand, Ozuna — who announced dates for the U.S. leg of his OzuTochi Tour in May — postponed without giving an official explanation. His and Balvin’s tours have yet to be rescheduled.  

One Latin Executive Goes to Prison, Another is Due in Court in 2023 

In May, Daddy Yankee and Natti Natasha’s manager Raphy Pina was sentenced to three years in prison for illegal possession of firearms. The veteran music executive and producer, who also founded Pina Records in 1996, is currently serving his time in federal prison in Florida. Also making headlines for his legal woes in 2022 was DEL Records CEO Angel del Villar, who was arrested in June for alleged shady dealings. Currently released on bond, del Villar is charged with “conspiring to violate the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act,” according to an official statement issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and “conducting business with a Guadalajara-based concert promoter with ties to Mexican drug cartels.” DEL Records is the indie regional Mexican label that’s home to the chart-topping group Eslabon Armado, who in May made history when their album Nostalgia became the first Mexican music album ever to hit the top 10 on the Billboard 200. If convicted of violating the Kingpin Act, Del Villar — whose trial is expected to begin in October 2023 in Los Angeles — could face a statutory maximum sentence of 30 years in federal prison.  

A Shakeup in Jenni Rivera’s Estate 

Earlier this year, Jenni Rivera’s daughter Jacqie Rivera took over as head of her mother’s estate — replacing her aunt Rosie Rivera, who had been at the helm since the regional Mexican singer’s untimely death in December 2012. Since taking over, Jacqie tapped Izabel Nicholas as general manager for Jenni Rivera Enterprises, while Oswaldo Rossi has remained the estate’s lawyer and Entotal Agency is handling artist management. When Rivera died ten years ago, at age 43, she was the single most successful woman in regional Mexican on the Billboard charts, boasting over 26 entries on the Regional Mexican Airplay chart. Most recently, Rivera’s children (Chiquis, Jacqie, Michael, Jenicka and Johnny) released “Misión Cumplida,” a song written by their mother in 2008. The song is part of Rivera’s forthcoming album — set to be released by Sony Music U.S. Latin — that will include other unreleased songs the Rivera estate discovered after her death.

Close to That Billion-Dollar Mark  

U.S. recorded music revenues were up in the first half of 2022, according to the RIAA, growing 9% in the first six months of the year — but Latin music far surpassed that percentage increase, with revenue growing 23% in the first half of the year for a total of $510 million. Latin music is now on course to generate over $1 billion in the U.S. by year’s end. According to the RIAA’s Latin-specific report, shared exclusively with Billboard Español, music streaming formats were the “fundamental growth driver,” comprising a staggering 97% of total Latin music revenues. Among total streaming revenues, paid subscriptions comprised the biggest source of sales at 71% — accounting for 69% of overall Latin revenues at $350 million. 

A Very Latin Coachella  

From Karol G to Anitta to Nathy Peluso to Grupo Firme, Latin artists took over Coachella this year. The 2022 edition of the festival — which returned to Indio, Calif. in April after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic — doubled the number of Latin acts from the 2020 roster with more than 20 multi-genre Latin artists. The move reflected the overall demand for Latin artists and the success Latin acts enjoyed once live events resumed. According to data from concert discovery app Bandsintown, between Jan. 2019 and Jan. 2022, the interest of live music fans in the top 16 Latin artists on Coachella’s 2022 lineup grew by 533% on the platform. This included Grupo Firme, who alone saw a 5,294% growth in fan interest on Bandsintown during that timeframe. This year, Firme made history by becoming the first banda to ever perform at Coachella, while Anitta became the first Brazilian to perform a set on the fest’s main stage.  

Latin Goes Global 

Latin music had a banner year not only in the U.S. but in other markets including Europe, where Latin acts are finally seeing a breakthrough. Artists such as Bad Bunny, Karol G, Rosalía, Maluma, Anitta and Camilo are spearheading the globalization of Latin music on the continent, making inroads in a market that was slow to latch on to the genre just a few years ago. Global touring powerhouse Rosalía has earned $28.1 million (so far) and sold 343,000 tickets across three continents on her Motomami world tour, according to figures reported to Billboard Boxscore, landing her at No. 7 on the year-end Top Latin Tours chart. Also going global was Mexican crooner Marco Antonio Solís, who toured Europe for the first time, holding shows in Paris, Madrid and London as part of his Que Ganas De Verte world tour. Additionally, Camilo had a historic and record-breaking performance in front of the iconic Puerta de Alcalá in Madrid in September, drawing a crowd of more than 80,000 fans.

90s Nostalgia 

Last year, Los Bukis reunited after 25 years to embark on their historic Una Historia Cantada stadium tour, presented by Live Nation — ultimately landing the group at No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Tours of 2021 with a total gross of $49,667,153. In 2022, they returned with a second leg of the tour, during which they played two back-to-back shows at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. At that venue, the group gathered 100,000 fans over two nights, breaking their previous record at the venue set in 1995. The success of the Los Bukis reunion started something of a nostalgia-driven movement in Latin music this year. This trend included the inaugural Bésame Mucho festival, which took place at Dodger Stadium on Dec. 3 with a ’90s-’00s-inspired lineup of pop, regional Mexican, merengue, cumbia and rock-en-español artists — and sold out in just 12 minutes. This coming February, a ’90s Latin pop concert featuring Magneto, Kabah, Caló, Sentidos Opuestos and more is slated to take place at Los Angeles’ YouTube Theater.