Latin music had a banner streaming year in 2018, notching 69.8 billion audio and video streams in the U.S. alone, according to Nielsen Music’s year-end numbers. That’s up 37 percent from 51 billion streams in 2017.
In audio alone, Latin (defined as music whose lyrics are more than half in Spanish) saw a 57.1 percent uptick in total streams, from 16.1 billion registered in 2017 to 25.3 billion for 2018.
As for video, there were 34.7 billion video streams of Latin music in 2017, and 44.5 billion streams in 2018, marking 28.2 percent growth year-over-year. That accounts for 18.4 percent of the total video streaming marketplace.
The popularity of Latin music videos has been apparent throughout the year on YouTube’s charts: Ozuna ended 2018 as the most viewed music artist on YouTube and eight out of the 10 most-viewed music videos of the year worldwide were Latin. However, Latin was not the only genre that benefited from streaming in 2018. Overall, the U.S. music market experienced significant growth in 2018, with total album equivalent audio consumption up 23 percent over 2017. The growth was driven by a 49 percent increase in on-demand audio song streams compared to last year.
But Latin is the most streaming-hungry genre of all. As of RIAA’s mid-year numbers for 2018, streaming accounted for 91 percent of all Latin music consumption, compared to 75 percent for the market overall.
As for Latin’s standing against other genres, it remains the fifth largest genre on a consumption basis, behind R&B, rock, pop, and country. But it’s more visible than ever. While 2017 was the year of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee‘s “Despacito,” with the song breaking records at No. 1 on the Hot 100, 2018 was the year of Cardi B, Bad Bunny and J Balvin‘s “I Like It” and “Mi Gente” by Balvin and Willy William — both of which hit the chart’s top five.
All told, 24 Spanish language songs hit the Hot 100 in 2018, compared to 19 in 2017, not including even more hybrid, English-dominant songs like “I Like It.”