Pandora is adding a new Latin music station, El Detour, which highlights the work of Latinx recording acts who do not necessarily belong to a genre or have the exposure of mainstream artists. Think of acts such as Girl Ultra, Kali Ulchis and the Marias, all known for their distinct and vibrant music styles, from R&B to psychedelic soul.
“We wanted to create a station that highlights the genres and artists that don’t necessarily fit in a box and defy genres, music that is outside of the mainstream created by Latinos both in Latin America and the U.S.,” Marcos Juarez, Pandora’s head of Latin music, tells Billboard. “We were very intentional in the way that we chose songs. We wanted to highlight Latin music in 2019 that is outside of the mainstream.”
The Pandora Latin team, including music programmer Leticia Ramirez who came up with the El Detour station name, oversees Pandora’s Latin offerings, including El Pulso’s urban music and RMX, a station dedicated to the regional Mexican genre. El Detour aims to show the diversity of Latin music in thoughtfully curated playlists that include everything from electro-pop to tropical fusion as the music streaming platform celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.
“It became clear to us that there were a ton of artists — and this has been true for ages — operating in the margins outside of mainstream commercial music,” Juarez said. “El Detour highlights some of these bigger artists who are huge right now such as Cuco, Kali Uchis and Bomba Estero, artists we have heard of and some are signed to major labels. But we also really wanted to highlight and celebrate a lot of those artists working to build audiences in their respective regions.”
Juarez revealed that Pandora is kicking off the El Detour marketing campaign with Cuco, Kali Uchis, Helado Negro and the Marias, adding that they represent a diverse cross section of distinct sounds.
“Something in English, something in Spanish, they are bicultural and they straddle both sides of Latin identity, American identity and they are emblematic of young Latinos of the U.S. consuming music from all over the place,” Juarez said. “We see this reflected in festival culture such as Viva Pomona [in Southern California] or Tropicalia, which is coming later in the year.”
Juarez also pointed out some of Pandora’s offerings of Latin classics, nostalgic music from around the world, such as Mexico, Puerto Rico and Colombia. It’s a way of “creating relatable listening music experiences in whatever genre or mood you are in,” he adds.
“Pandora has always been adept at fostering discovery,” Juarez said. “With this project we are looking to accelerate that process of discovery and put music in front of people that otherwise may not be aware of. Latin music continues to thrive and I think we have had success in being reflective of Latino culture and being representative of the diversity of it all.”