Two years ago, before the pandemic, Banda MS was set to become the first-ever banda ensemble to perform at Coachella – marking a pivotal moment for regional Mexican music taking the stage at one of the world’s most recognized festivals. Of course, that event never took place, as the global concert business ground to a halt and only started returning in earnest last summer. Now, with Coachella finally returning to Indio, Calif., this weekend, Banda MS will make that groundbreaking debut — and they’re doing so alongside more Latin acts than ever.
As Latin music has seen explosive growth over the past two years — total U.S. market share grew 9% from 2019 to 5.39% in 2021, according to Luminate, formerly MRC Data — Coachella has doubled the Latin acts on its 2022 roster from 2020. The more than 20 multi-genre Latin artists performing this year range from banda to reggaeton and trap, including Karol G, Anitta, Nathy Peluso, Ed Maverick and Pabllo Vittar, among others. Regional Mexican will have a big moment at Coachella with Banda MS, Grupo Firme and corridos tumbados singer Natanael Cano on the roster — a nod to the genre’s global growth and international appeal it has gained in recent years.
“Coachella looks for the same thing we all do, which is permanency,” says Sergio Lizárraga, manager and founder of Banda MS. “Us through our songs and them through their lineup. The festival can no longer be exclusive to any genre, and it looks like they are now understanding the value of our music.”
For years, Coachella has featured Latin acts but they have traditionally been more indie-rock-leaning, such as Los Amigos Invisibles in 1999, Café Tacvba in 2003 (then again in 2008 and 2013) and Zoé in 2014. In 2018, the fest went beyond just featuring Latin indie-rock acts with Mexican cumbia pioneers Los Angeles Azules taking the stage and gathering a significant crowd that included Justin Bieber, who was spotted dancing to one of their songs. In 2019, the festival added superstar reggaeton acts Bad Bunny and J Balvin to top the lineup, as well as norteño group Los Tucanes de Tijuana, along with the typical Latin rock billings including Las Robertas and Javiera Mena.
But dipping into these new genres helped prove that there was an audience for it — and helped influence this year’s lineup, as well as other mainstream festival billings around the country.
“[Festival] executives have to show the melting pot that is the U.S.,” says Richard Vega, agent at WME, who placed both Argentine trap sensation Nicki Nicole and Cano on this year’s roster. “They’ve always kept the cult indie following audience but when Balvin and Bunny were there, that was the moment when everyone realized that the gringos listen to these artists, and they must cater more to the mainstream genres and audiences.”
As touring and festivals return this year, demand for Latin acts has never been higher, according to data from concert discovery app Bandsintown. From Jan. 2019 to Jan. 2022, live music fans were 533% more interested in the top 16 Latin artists on this year’s Coachella lineup, including Grupo Firme who saw 5,294% growth in fan interest on the platform during that timeframe. The increase is measured by growth in an artist’s followers on Bandsintown, according to the company. Other artists that saw an increase include Omar Apollo (up 731%), The Marias (up 522%) and Nathy Peluso (up 332%).
“This really didn’t happen in a vacuum,” says Gil Gastelum, founder of Cosmica Management + Records and manager to Carla Morrison, who performed at Coachella in 2016. “The festival promoters took notice and made the adjustments needed to ramp up having more of a Latin presence. I also feel the Latin industry has gotten the latest in marketing insight to be in tandem with what is considered the general market. This growing representation is only the tip of the iceberg if both sides continue to make the right investment.”