Inside Latin Music’s Nostalgia Touring Boom — And Who Will Capitalize Next
Mexican pop band RBD is the latest act to reunite — and earn millions — for their upcoming summer reunion tour.
Mexican pop band RBD, which scored five top 10 hits on the Hot Latin Songs chart in the early 2000s, performed its last show in 2008, during which the act announced it was disbanding. Its members — Anahí, Dulce María, Christian Chávez, Maite Perroni and Christopher von Uckermann — haven’t stepped onstage together since. And yet, when RBD recently announced it was reuniting for 40-plus shows in arenas and stadiums around the world, dubbed the Soy Rebelde Tour, over 1.5 million tickets were sold in just 24 hours, according to RBD’s manager, Guillermo Rosas.
RBD is the latest in a string of Latin reunion tours that are raking in millions of dollars. The trend started in 2020 when bachata supergroup Aventura reunited after 10 years for its Inmortal Tour. Its first leg posted $24 million after 14 shows, according to Billboard Boxscore. And in 2021, iconic ’80s Mexican grupero band Los Bukis reunited after 25 years for its own stadium trek; the nine-date stint produced by Live Nation entered at No. 6 on Billboard’s Top Tours of 2021 with nearly $50 million in grosses.
“What makes these nostalgic touring concepts powerful is that it’s multigenerational,” says Hans Schafer, senior vp of global touring at Live Nation, the promoter behind RBD’s upcoming trek. In 2006, RBD — conceptualized from the Mexican telenovela Rebelde — had the No. 1 Latin tour, with a gross of nearly $31 million across 51 shows. “The music has been passed down generations and continues to live on. Now we are seeing more artists interested and excited to tap into the nostalgia of fans.”
But, as Rosas notes, it’s also risky, considering the uncertainty in booking acts that haven’t toured in decades and don’t have massive streaming numbers. “Just because you have 50 million listeners doesn’t mean you’re going to sell 1.5 million tickets at the box office,” he says. “It takes a lot more than streams to become part of culture. As managers and promoters, you learn how to cross those bridges and not go blindly based on numbers.”
When Adolfo Romero, vp of programming for SoFi Stadium, Hollywood Park and YouTube Theater, booked Los Bukis for their back-to-back shows at the SoFi, it never crossed his mind that a nostalgia act wouldn’t be able to sell over 70,000 tickets. “I come from [major league] soccer. If we can sell 70,000 plus for soccer here, what’s the difference?” he previously told Billboard. “It’s the same demographic. We have disposable income. A lot of our community was working in the service industry. Now, many of their kids are college grads.”
L.A.’s Bésame Mucho (like the nostalgia-fueled When We Were Young festival) inaugural event last year sold out in 12 minutes when the 2000s-inspired lineup — which included Juanes, Hombres G and Los Tigres Del Norte — was announced. Come December, Los Bukis will headline the fest’s second edition.
“We focused only on what the fans wanted to see and not what was playing on radio,” says John Frias, producer of Bésame Mucho and president of Frias Entertainment. “A ton of people brought their parents to the festival. It was a smash.”
Frías is hesitant to label these shows as simply “nostalgia” tours since they’re not only appealing to an older generation of fans. There’s a new generation that’s discovering and embracing these bands, too. “In this day and age, fans won’t be subjected to only today’s music. They liked yesterday’s music and they like today’s music,” he says categorically.
Music discovery could be a significant contributing factor to RBD’s massive success on the touring front. In September 2020, RBD’s catalog became available for the first time ever across digital streaming platforms, including Spotify. “Context is so important for data,” says Schafer. “You have to understand where things come from. And tours like these, they’re an emotional response to something that was lived years ago and you’re now able to inspire and remind people of those moments.”
A version of this story will appear in the April 1, 2023, issue of Billboard.