Latin lessons: Universal's Angel Kaminsky on how Luis Fonsi & J Balvin conquered the UK charts

Luis Fonsi

It’s been the sound of the summer – but can Latin music go on to long-term success in the UK?

This week’s Music Week cover story sees a host of top executives predicting that – after a record four Latin tracks made Friday’s Official Singles Chart Top 20 – the Latin scene could go on to emulate the rise of country music in Britain.

The four hits in question are Luis Fonsi & Daddy Yannkee Feat. Justin Bieber’s Despacito (1,797,874 sales and counting, according to the Official Charts Company), J Balvin & Willy William’s Mi Gente (134,090), CNCO & Little Mix’s Reggaetón Lento (70,320) and Enrique Iglesias Feat. Sean Paul & Matt Terry’s Súbeme La Radio (187,019), suggesting the Latin trend is now being picked up by domestic artists as the public shows an ever-increasing appetite for Spanish-language songs.

While Latin has long had an audience in the US as well as in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries, streaming has fuelled the growth of the genre in the UK, although radio has now joined the party, with Despacito and Súbeme La Radio both in this week’s UK Radio Airplay Top 10.

So Music Week did a quickfire Q&A with Angel Kaminsky, EVP for Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula at Universal Music – the record company that brought the world Luis Fonsi and J Balvin – to find out how Latin went global…

What do you think has caused the recent explosion in Latin music interest/consumption internationally, particularly in the UK?

The landscape of streaming and music consumption today provides a good base for Latin artists to expand their reach around the world and definitely in the UK, as we have already seen this summer. For artists, Latin America is their launch pad, but streaming and social media have now lowered the barrier for Latin music to crossover globally. In terms of Luis Fonsi’s Despacito and J Balvin's Mi Gente, each track has different elements that have contributed to their individual success, but we have also worked very closely with the team at Polydor to ensure they each made an impact in the UK.

Streaming and social media have now lowered the barrier for Latin music to crossover globally

Angel Kaminsky

Do you think this can be a long-term trend rather than a short-lived summer one?

Summer has always provided great moments for Latin tracks globally, but I foresee this trend can stay all year long, with more and more artists breaking through with hits, both in Spanish and bilingual [songs].

Can the Latin scene now build in the UK the same way that the country scene has?

Definitely, yes! A good example of this is the Hola! London festival, which took place at the O2 Arena in July. Several Universal Music Latin Entertainment artists including Juanes, Juan Luis Guerra, David Bisbal and Sebastián Yatra performed at the first-ever all-Latin Festival in the UK. The most important [thing] is for artists to expand their reach and business on a global scale through the live and touring market. It is a unique moment for the Latin music business and live is key [to] long-term future success.

For more on the Latin explosion, see this week’s print edition of Music Week. To subscribe and never miss a big music biz story, click here.


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