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What's Next For Latin Music? A Roundtable Discussion About Reggaetón, Indie Acts, Regional Sounds & More
Karol G performs during Lollapalooza 2023

Photo: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

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What's Next For Latin Music? A Roundtable Discussion About Reggaetón, Indie Acts, Regional Sounds & More

The consumption of Latin music in the U.S. is at a record high, and its biggest stars have turned reggaetón, música Mexicana and other genres into a global phenomenon. GRAMMY.com spoke with experts about the present and future of Latin music.

GRAMMYs/Oct 13, 2023 - 01:20 pm

For fans of Latin music, 2023 is a time of sweet vindication. If mega-stars like Bad Bunny, KAROL G and J Balvin had already turned the sounds of Latin America into a global phenomenon with record breaking numbers across streaming services, this year the growth continues unwavered with the addition of a música mexicana boom attracting new listeners from all regions of the world.

In 2022, the consumption of Latin music in the U.S. hit a record high of $1.1 billion. According to the RIAA, 2023 will be even bigger, with a mid-year report of $627 million signaling a 15 percent growth. In 2022, el conejo malo became the most-streamed artist on Spotify for the third consecutive year.

But what will the future look like? Are the rootsy música Mexicana grooves here to stay? Will the ubiquitous reggaetón beat become a thing of the past? Are there any new trends in the making?

Read on for a roundtable discussion with tastemakers and executives who help us define and interpret the present and future of Latin music.

Besides the obvious reasons — the music being irresistible — why do you think the sounds coming from Latin America have captured the imagination of the entire planet?

Diana Rodríguez (CEO, Criteria Entertainment): The rhythm, the fusion. The surprise. It’s music that makes you want to move. It follows no rules, has a strong sense of its own roots, and blurs the boundaries of genre demographics. Many Latin hits are also catchy and easy to digest. In a world full of war, inflation and depression, music allows us to escape.

Sebastián Krys (Producer, Elvis Costello, Juanes, Alejandro Sanz): I think it's because it's not far removed from the root — there's still some folklore hidden in there. In popular Western music, most new artists have no idea where they came from, musically or culturally. That’s not the case with many Latin artists.

Leticia Ramírez (Associate Director, Latin Content and Programming, Pandora): The songs by Latin artists making waves across the globe have highly emotional messages that are relatable to large populations. Recently, we are seeing more artists touring outside of Latin America, strengthening their connection with fans.  

Tomás Cookman (Founder, Nacional Records): I think the spirit, style and quality of the music coming out of Latin America — and Latin artists in the U.S. — is on par with the mainstream. A great KAROL G track is just a great track that happens to be performed in Spanish. The new wave of Latin hits can hold its own against any other Top 10 song. 

Music is so immediate and widely shared now that many of the hitmakers around the world are being impacted by the same influences at the same time.

Anchoring a hooky pop song on a reggaetón beat is quite common. Will the reggaetón aesthetic be a thing of the past? Or will it remain a basic component of the Latin music DNA?

Walter Kolm (Founder and CEO of WK Entertainment and WK Records): Reggaetón will never be a thing of the past, simply because it keeps evolving. That basic dembow beat has extremely strong roots in various other genres. It will keep mutating, and it remains to be seen what the new reggaetón will sound like in the near future.

Ramírez: The reggaetón aesthetic is not outdated at all — as a Latin programmer, I come across these sounds every day. It may seem that way now that industry headlines are focusing on música mexicana — however, reggaetón is still very much alive.

Cookman: Reggaetón is always going to be with us, just as dancehall was before reggaetón. It’s an irresistible beat, but one of the keys to its continued success is the consistency of the genre’s songwriters. At the core of these hits are well written songs. 

Reggaetón is here for the foreseeable future — but it may evolve into slightly altered forms. It will be different from other musical movements — like ‘70s disco, for instance — as it is hard to remember the lyrical side of most disco hits from that era.

Rodríguez: Because of its natural DNA, reggaetón allowed itself to merge with other genres, thus extending what could have been its natural life cycle, far beyond anyone’s predictions. Reggaetón may have reached a point of saturation. The demand that made it a global success is now decreasing, and it remains to be determined what exactly will take its place in the market.

Is the current fascination with the likes of música mexicana superstars like Grupo Frontera a fad? Do you think música mexicana will become an international phenomenon like the urbano movement?

Rodríguez: It was long overdue for música mexicana to impact the market globally. Just like country, it has a fanbase that not only streams the songs, but also fuels the box office, merchandising and physical formats. I’m surprised it took this long. Maybe it needed reggaetón to open up the doors to a wider market? Who knows!

Krys: I don't think it's a fad, but I do believe they have an uphill battle, mainly because it's not dance driven. When you can dance to the music, the language becomes irrelevant. Corridos tumbados are lyric-driven, so the connection will be harder to make. Not impossible, just harder.

Rodríguez: We have a new generation of artists who are able to adapt and represent their musical movement at a faster pace. Right now we are able to look at fads much earlier than before. I think this genre will evolve and take shape in different ways — but its core will always be traced back to the root of Mexican sounds. That blend will be attractive to audiences that aren’t as familiar with the movement’s traditions.

What about traditional pop-rock? Can that format survive the radical changes that Latin music experienced during the past 20 years?

Kolm: If you analyze the evolution of music throughout the decades, you will see that the pendulum keeps swinging back and forth between different styles. The time will come when traditional pop-rock will be back on top. Much like reggaetón and música Mexicana, it will evolve and fuse with other genres.

Cookman: There will always be space for a Juanes track, or the next generation of Juaneses. Pop-rock is not going away — if anything, I believe we will be hearing more guitars in the near future. Maybe not the cliché rock guitars that pop up at times, but real honestly indie pop-rock artists that are already making noise in markets across Latin America, and even in places like Texas.

Latin music is populated by thousands of indie artists who are recording beautiful albums at home. Sadly, their business model is not sustainable. What will happen to those indie creatives? Will music become an expensive hobby to the majority of emerging artists?

Krys: I don’t think there are thousands of artists recording beautiful albums. Most of them are dreadful — indie or otherwise. I think creators need to value their work a bit more. Right now, most people making music are creating "content," which is disposable. Make art, and the conversation changes.

Cookman: I think it is fair to say that some of the recent success stories… and the wave of trap artists that emerged from Argentina are all stemming from the same humble starting points. What propelled these artists above the others is that they had the right sound at the right time. After some initial traction, there were enough people that came to their aid and helped them to rise up. 

At the end of the day, if you’re doing something special, with a bit of luck and good timing, folks will come to your circle. It’s like the small taco stand that always has a long line. Somehow, the mouth to mouth talk brought that long line there.

Rodríguez: Cutting through the noise — in this case, the weekly tsunami of releases — and jumping the hoops is a challenge for any artist. However, there have never been more opportunities to get your music out there and reach an audience. It’s always been a triathlon, rather than a sprint.

Kolm: The odds of making it in this industry remain astronomically low. It is an unwavering conviction and the drive to improve their craft that sets apart the artists that make it. It is their life’s true purpose. I’m also a strong believer that good music will always find its way to the consumers. While the odds have never been favorable to emerging artists, good songs will invariably generate a strong connection.

Any predictions for the next couple of years? Is there a particular scene in Latin America that you are excited about?

Rodríguez: Aside from regional Mexican? I believe lyrics are making a big comeback, through a new generation of bigger and bolder songwriters who have something to say across all genres and formats.

Krys: There is going to be a revival of songs, of poetry. I'm a little tired of the second grade level of most lyrics, and I'm not the only one. There's a wonderful scene of highly creative singer/songwriters about to emerge.

Cookman: I feel there is a new wave of artists influenced by hip-hop. Artists like Trueno are making music that will resonate for years to come. I also see a renaissance of rock artists coming out of the woodwork and doing special things. At the major festivals in Latin America, the programming is more varied than ever. This is healthy, as it can have a positive influence on the new generation of creatives.

Meet The Gen Z Women Claiming Space In The Regional Mexican Music Movement

How The Latin GRAMMYS Brought Latin Music Excellence To The 2024 GRAMMYs
Peso Pluma attends the 2024 GRAMMYs

Photo:  Lester Cohen/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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How The Latin GRAMMYS Brought Latin Music Excellence To The 2024 GRAMMYs

Latin music was celebrated throughout GRAMMY Week and on Music's Biggest Night. Read on for the many ways Latin music excellence was showcased at the 204 GRAMMYs.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2024 - 09:56 pm

The 2023 Latin GRAMMYs may have occurred months ago and thousands of miles away, but the leading lights in Latin music also shined at the 66th GRAMMY Awards. From historic wins and meaningful nominations, to electric performances and interesting installations, Latin music excellence was everywhere. 

In anticipation of the 25th anniversary of the Latin GRAMMYs in 2024, the exclusive GRAMMY House — the site of multiple GRAMMY Week events — included a significant installation dedicated to the Biggest Night In Latin Music.

The cylindrical display showcased some of the biggest moments in Latin GRAMMY history, including images, facts, and even a real Latin GRAMMY award. 

The celebration of Latin music continued throughout GRAMMY Week, with several Latin GRAMMY-winning artists also winning on the GRAMMY stage. Among the major moments at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Karol G won her first golden gramophone for her 2023 LP Mañana Será Bonito. "This is my first time at GRAMMYs, and this is my first time holding my own GRAMMY," the Colombian songstress exclaimed during her acceptance speech. 

Música Mexicana star Peso Pluma also took home his first GRAMMY; his album GÉNESIS won in the Best Música Mexicana Album (Including Tejano) Category.

Premiere Ceremony presenter Natalia Lafourcade — whose Todas Las Flores won big at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs — also took home the GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Rock or Alternative Album. She tied in the Category with Juanes

Premiere Ceremony performer Gabby Moreno also took home a GRAMMY Award for Best Latin Pop Album for her album X Mí (Vol. 1)

Beyond the stage, Latin artists graced the red carpet and the nominations list. For example, producer and songwriter Edgar Barrera was the only Latino nominated in the Songwriter Of The Year, Non-Classical Category.

10 Must-See Moments From The 2024 GRAMMYs: Taylor Swift Makes History, Billy Joel & Tracy Chapman Return, Boygenius Manifest Childhood Dreams

How The 2024 GRAMMYs Saw The Return Of Music Heroes & Birthed New Icons
Victoria Monét backstage at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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How The 2024 GRAMMYs Saw The Return Of Music Heroes & Birthed New Icons

Between an emotional first-time performance from Joni Mitchell and a slew of major first-time winners like Karol G and Victoria Monét, the 2024 GRAMMYs were unforgettably special. Revisit all of the ways both legends and rising stars were honored.

GRAMMYs/Feb 9, 2024 - 09:02 pm

After Dua Lipa kicked off the 2024 GRAMMYs with an awe-inspiring medley of her two new songs, country star Luke Combs followed with a performance that spawned one of the most memorable moments of the night — and one that exemplified the magic of the 66th GRAMMY Awards.

Combs was joined by Tracy Chapman, whose return to the stage marked her first public performance in 15 years. The two teamed up for her GRAMMY-winning hit "Fast Car," which earned another GRAMMY nomination this year thanks to Combs' true-to-form cover that was up for Best Country Solo Performance. The audience went wild upon seeing a resplendent, smiling Chapman strum her guitar, and it was evident that Combs felt the same excitement singing along beside her.

Chapman and Combs' duet was a powerful display of what the 2024 GRAMMYs offered: veteran musicians being honored and new stars being born.

Another celebrated musician who made a triumphant return was Joni Mitchell. Though the folk icon had won 10 GRAMMYs to date — including one for Best Folk Album at this year's Premiere Ceremony — she had never performed on the GRAMMYs stage until the 2024 GRAMMYs. Backed by a band that included Brandi Carlile, Allison Russell, Blake Mills, Jacob Collier, and other accomplished musicians, the 80-year-old singer/songwriter delivered a stirring (and tear-inducing) rendition of her classic song "Both Sides Now," singing from an ornate chair that added an element of regality.

Later in the show, Billy Joel, the legendary rock star who began his GRAMMY career in 1979 when "Just the Way You Are" won Record and Song Of The Year, used the evening to publicly debut his first single in 17 years, "Turn the Lights Back On." (He also closed out the show with his 1980 classic, "You May Be Right.") It was the latest event in Joel's long history at the show; past performances range from a 1994 rendition of "River of Dreams" to a 2022 duet of "New York State of Mind" with Tony Bennett. The crooner, who died in 2023, was featured in the telecast's In Memoriam section, where Stevie Wonder dueted with archival footage of Bennett. And Annie Lennox, currently in semi-retirement, paid tribute to Sinéad O'Connor, singing "Nothing Compares 2 You" and calling for peace.

Career-peak stars also furthered their own legends, none more so than Taylor Swift. The pop star made history at the 2024 GRAMMYs, claiming the record for most Album Of The Year wins by a single artist. The historic moment also marked another icon's return, as Celine Dion made an ovation-prompting surprise appearance to present the award. (Earlier in the night, Swift also won Best Pop Vocal Album for Midnights, announcing a new album in her acceptance speech. To date, Swift has 14 GRAMMYs and 52 nominations.)

24-time GRAMMY winner Jay-Z expanded his dominance by taking home the Dr. Dre Global Impact Award, which he accepted alongside daughter Blue Ivy. And just before Miley Cyrus took the stage to perform "Flowers," the smash single helped the pop star earn her first-ever GRAMMY, which also later nabbed Record Of The Year.

Alongside the longtime and current legends, brand-new talents emerged as well. Victoria Monét took home two GRAMMYs before triumphing in the Best New Artist category, delivering a tearful speech in which she looked back on 15 years working her way up through the industry. Last year's Best New Artist winner, Samara Joy, continued to show her promise in the jazz world, as she won Best Jazz Performance for "Tight"; she's now 3 for 3, after also taking home Best Jazz Vocal Album for Linger Awhile last year.

First-time nominee Tyla became a first-time winner — and surprised everyone, including herself — when the South African starlet won the first-ever Best African Music Performance GRAMMY for her hit "Water." boygenius, Karol G and Lainey Wilson were among the many other first-time GRAMMY winners that capped off major years with a golden gramophone (or three, in boygenius' case).

All throughout GRAMMY Week 2024, rising and emerging artists were even more of a theme in the lead-up to the show. GRAMMY House 2024 hosted performances from future stars, including Teezo Touchdown and Tiana Major9 at the Beats and Blooms Emerging Artist Showcase and Blaqbonez and Romy at the #GRAMMYsNextGen Party.

Gatherings such as A Celebration of Women in the Mix, Academy Proud: Celebrating LGBTQIA+ Voices, and the Growing Wild Independent Music Community Panel showcased traditionally marginalized voices and communities, while Halle Bailey delivered a GRAMMY U Masterclass for aspiring artists. And Clive Davis hosted his Pre-2024 GRAMMYs Gala, where stars new and old mingled ahead of the main event. 

From established, veteran artists to aspiring up-and-comers, the 2024 GRAMMYs were a night of gold and glory that honored the breadth of talent and creativity throughout the music industry, perfectly exemplifying the Recording Academy's goal to "honor music's past while investing in its future." If this year's proceedings were any indication, the future of the music industry is bright indeed. 

10 Must-See Moments From The 2024 GRAMMYs: Taylor Swift Makes History, Billy Joel & Tracy Chapman Return, Boygenius Manifest Childhood Dreams

Big First Wins At The 2024 GRAMMYs: Karol G, Lainey Wilson, Victoria Monét & More
Lainey Wilson at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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Big First Wins At The 2024 GRAMMYs: Karol G, Lainey Wilson, Victoria Monét & More

The 2024 GRAMMYs were momentous in a myriad of ways, including major firsts. Here's a rundown of big first wins by Paramore, Zach Bryan, Tyla and others.

GRAMMYs/Feb 6, 2024 - 01:07 am

That's a wrap for Music's Biggest Night! The 2024 GRAMMYs were extraordinarily stuffed with incredible moments, from performances to historic wins to unforgettable surprises.

Several of the most memorable moments came from first-time winners. In fact, there were 126 at the 66th GRAMMY Awards, spanning a wide array of talent across genres. From Colombian songstress Karol G to indie rock supergroup boygenius and country singer Brandy Clark, take a look at some of the biggest acts that took home their very first golden gramophones.

Miley Cyrus Celebrated Her First Wins With A Pumped-Up Performance

Miley Cyrus may have taken home the coveted Record Of The Year for "Flowers," but a different Category may have been the biggest achievement. Just before her performance on the GRAMMY stage, Cyrus won her first-ever golden gramophone for Best Pop Solo Performance.

"This award is amazing, but I really hope it doesn't change anything, because my life was beautiful yesterday," Cyrus said while accepting her first award.

"Flowers" is featured on Cyrus' 2023 album Endless Summer Vacation. "Flowers" was also nominated for GRAMMYs for Song Of The Year.

Karol G's First GRAMMYs Resulted In Her First GRAMMY

Karol G has had a meteoric rise over the past several years, and that continued unabated at Music's Biggest Night.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs Premiere Ceremony, Karol G won the GRAMMY for Best Música Urbana Album, for her 2023 LP Mañana Será Bonito. (She'd previously been nominated at the 2022 GRAMMYs, for the same category, for KG0516.

"Hello everybody, my name is Karol G. I am from Medellín, Colombia. This is my first time at the GRAMMYs, and this is my first time holding my own GRAMMY," she said, utterly concisely.

Victoria Monét Completed A Lifelong Goal…

Victoria Monét won big at the GRAMMYs, including taking home the award for Best New Artist. The singer also took home golden gramophones for Best R&B Album and Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical for Jaguar II.

Monét has been nominated for 10 GRAMMYs over her career as both a solo act and songwriter. When accepting the GRAMMY Award for Best New Artist, Monét compared herself to a plant growing from soil. 

"My roots have been growing underneath ground, unseen, for so long, and I feel like today I'm sprouting, finally above ground," she said.

…And So Did Coco Jones

Monét’s fellow R&B nominee — and one-time collaborator — Coco Jones also turned a nearly 15-year journey into GRAMMY success, winning Best R&B Performance for her song "ICU."

Tyla, Me'shell NdegeOcello & Kylie Minogue Won In First-Time Categories

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, there were three new Categories — which meant three inaugural winners. South African singer/songwriter Tyla took home her first GRAMMY with her win for Best African Music Performance for her smash hit "Water," while Me'shell NdegeOcello and Kylie Minogue notched their second wins each, in the new Best Alternative Jazz Album and Best Pop Dance Recording Categories, respectively.

After 16 Years, Paramore Got GRAMMY Gold 

Myspace-era alt wizards Paramore enjoyed a stunning resurgence with their 2023 album This Is Why. They'd been nominated in past ceremonies — their first nominations coming in 2008 — but at the 2024 GRAMMYs, they nabbed the trophy for the prestigious Best Rock Album Category. And with their first win, they made GRAMMY history: Paramore is the first female-fronted rock band to win Best Rock Album.

Lainey Wilson Continued A Massive Year With A GRAMMY

Much like Tyla, country star Lainey Wilson nailed it on the first try — as far as the Recording Academy goes. She was nominated twice at the 2024 GRAMMYs, and took home a golden gramophone for Best Country Album, for Bell Bottom Country.

Clearly, the phenomenon of a first-time GRAMMY nominee taking it home transcends genres and continents.

Second Time Was A Charm For Zach Bryan

Country great Zach Bryan's been nominated before — at the 2023 GRAMMYs, for Best Country Solo Performance, for "Something in the Orange."

This time, he brought home the golden gramophone for Best Country Duo/Group Performance, for "I Remember Everything." Bryan was also nominated for Best Country Album (Zach Bryan) and Best Country Song, also for "I Remember Everything."

First-Time Nominees Boygenius Won Three Times

Women dominated the 2024 GRAMMYs, which certainly applies to boygenius — who consist of three women, and cleaned up at the ceremony. And, they too were first-time nominees

Boygenius took home three GRAMMYs revolving around 2023's the record, including Best Alternative Music Album, Best Rock Song and Best Rock Performance — both for the stirring, gender-flipped "Not Strong Enough."

Peso Pluma Went From First-Time Nominee To First-Time Winner

Música Mexicana, stand up! Upstart Peso Pluma took home the GRAMMY for Best Música Mexicana Album (Including Tejano), for his tremendous album GÉNESIS.

As the status of Mexico on the global stage continues to swell, take Pluma's win as a sign to keep your ear to the ground.

Brandy Clark Left A Winner

Roots-heavy singer Brandy Clark's been nominated for 17 GRAMMYs over the years, but never gave up.

At the 2024 GRAMMYs, she won for Best Americana Performance for "Dear Insecurity" — and she played a corker of a version at the Premiere Ceremony with the string duo SistaStrings.

Fred again.. Proved To Be Dance Music’s Latest Hero

2022 saw Fred again.. rise as one of dance music's most promising new stars with the release of his compilation album, USB, and his third studio album, Actual Life 3 — and both helped him win his first pair of GRAMMYs in 2024. USB's "Rumble" (a collaboration with Skrillex and Four Tet) scored Best Dance/Electronic Recording, and Actual Life 3 took home Best Dance/Electronic Music Album.

Taylor Swift & Kacey Musgraves Celebrated Historic Firsts

While winning a GRAMMY was nothing new to 2024 winners Taylor Swift and Kacey Musgraves, they both had feats that marked big firsts in GRAMMY history. Swift became the first artist to be awarded Album Of The Year four times with her win for Midnights, while Musgraves' win for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for her Zach Bryan collaboration "I Remember Everything" made her the first artist to win in all four Country Field Categories.

Keep checking GRAMMY.com for stories about the 2024 GRAMMYs — and the Recording Academy thanks you for tuning into Music's Biggest Night! If you missed it, stream it on Paramount+ for maximum musical glory.

2024 GRAMMY Nominations: See The Full Winners & Nominees List

2024 GRAMMYs: Karol G Wins The First GRAMMY Award Of Her Career For Best Música Urbana Album
Karol G at the 2024 GRAMMYs.

Photo: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

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2024 GRAMMYs: Karol G Wins The First GRAMMY Award Of Her Career For Best Música Urbana Album

Karol G won her first GRAMMY Award, taking home the golden gramophone for Best Música Urbana Album for 'Mañana Será Bonito.'

GRAMMYs/Feb 5, 2024 - 02:11 am

Karol G won big at the 2023 Latin GRAMMYs,  taking home the coveted Album Of The Year award. Now, she's made her mark at 2024 GRAMMYs with a Best Música Urbana Album win.

"This is my first time at GRAMMYs, and this is my first time holding my own GRAMMY," the Colombian songstress exclaimed with a smile.

Karol G clearly felt all the emotions during her acceptance speech: "I'm super happy, I'm super nervous, I'm super excited to be around so many legends that I admire and respect. This is such a beautiful thing," she said, beaming.

Read more: Mañana Y Siempre: How Karol G Has Made The World Mas Bonito

Karol later expressed gratitude for her fans who supported and motivated her through the recording process for Mañana Será Bonito.

SATURNO (Rauw Alejandro) and DATA (Tainy) also received nominations in the category.

2024 GRAMMYs: See The Full Nominees And Winners List