Recently, Rosalía played a showcase in London for her label, The Village Underground, singing in Spanish as usual. But it wasn’t just Latin fans who turned out for the show.
“They had a 6,500-person waiting list. I was blown away,” Rosalía’s manager, Rebeca León, told Billboard. “Nobody knows what Rosalía is saying in the U.K., but they know what she is saying. Her attitude tells you everything.”
Thanks to the streaming boom, Latin artists are successfully beefing up tours in a new — and massive — market: non-Spanish-speaking Europe. Enrique Iglesias played to more than 80,000 fans this year at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine; J Balvin‘s European live revenue quadrupled after “Mi Gente” took off; and The O2 in London has hosted a Latin music festival, Hola! London, for the past two years.
“Promoters are actually seeing hard numbers showing demand and listenership through streaming numbers, so promoters are taking a bigger risk,” says WME partner Rob Markus, who works with Juanes, J Balvin and Luis Miguel. That’s a sizable change from just a few years ago, says Iglesias’ manager, Fernando Giaccardi, who recalls begging a U.K. station to play Latin artists and being told, “I’m sorry. Latin music doesn’t work here. That’s not what our people want to listen to.”
Giaccardi advises Latin acts that when they first play Europe, fans might not “know all of the songs, but they know enough to leave very happy with the show. That’s how you build your touring career.”
Tacking European dates onto those in Spanish-speaking regions not only adds revenue, it helps prevent burnout in Latin artists’ primary touring grounds.
“If, at an early stage or a relatively early stage of their career, you’re able to get artists outside of their main market, then you’re able to avoid them overplaying their main market,” says Markus. “If you’re able to do a bit of what we call ‘crop rotation’ in terms of expanding and putting the flag in the ground in different places, start building your fan bases elsewhere, then you potentially improve and extend your life cycle.” Adds León: “We are only scratching the surface.”