Latin music’s upward trajectory continued through 2020, according to the RIAA’s newly released 2020 Latin Music Revenue Report.
Latin music, defined as music performed predominantly in Spanish, in any genre, registered its fifth consecutive year of growth, with total revenues rising 19%, more than double the 9.2% registered for the overall music industry. This places Latin music revenues at $655 million estimated retail value, and drives Latin music’s total percentage of the market up from 5% in 2019 to 5.4% in 2020, their highest level since 2005.
As expected, streaming revenues drove growth, rising by a very impressive 20% and now making up 96% of total Latin music revenues. In comparison, streaming growth for the overall market was 13.4%, and as a percentage of total U.S. revenue, streaming accounted for 82.9% in 2020.
In Latin music, within the streaming category, the biggest driver of growth was paid subscriptions, with revenue rising from $342.2 million in 2019 to $439 million in 2020, a 28.3% bump. Paid subscriptions now make up 20% of Latin music revenues.
In comparison, revenue growth for on-demand or ad-supported streaming rose 6.2%, from $120.8 million in 2019 to $128.3 million in 2020, making up 20% of total revenues (compared to 12% of revenues of the market as a whole).
The huge growth of paid subscription revenue within Latin music is a key factor to the sector’s health as a whole. In the early days of streaming, most Latin consumption was on-demand, which impacted total revenue despite the volume. Now, Latin music fans are increasingly turning to subscription models to consume their music.
The growth of Latin is not only reflected in the numbers. Latin music now “routinely” accounts for 15% of the RIAA’s Gold & Platinum Awards, “overperforming its relative size,” according to a blog published in Medium by RIAA Chief Operating Officer Michele Ballantyne.
“With so many sources of income cut off for artists, songwriters, and performers, labels’ innovation of new streaming models has sustained millions in both music and the broader, connected economy,” wrote Ballantyne. “An indispensable and growing part of that economic bedrock is the continuing success of Latin music — powered by songwriters, artists, and labels committed to finding and sharing great music across all cultures, audiences, and communities.”
According to Nielsen Music, Latin music was the fastest growing genre in the U.S. in 2020, and the fifth largest overall (behind hip hop, pop, rock and country).
Globally, the Latin American region also registered the highest growth in value in the world, according to the recently released IFPI report.
According to Spotify, the most streamed artist globally in 2020 was Bad Bunny, while Latin music videos account for approximately 30% of YouTube’s top music videos of 2020. Yet consumption of Latin music has always behaved slightly different from the rest of the market, which is one of the reasons the RIAA issues a separate Latin music report. This year, those distinctions are manifest in the over-index of streaming numbers. At the same time, vinyl sales, which are growing robustly in the overall market, are just beginning in Latin. This year, for the first time, vinyl records are included in the Latin year-end report (including data for 2019 as well), with numbers offsetting declines in CDs and resulting in 3% growth of physical product to $4.5 million in 2020.