Baja Beach Fest, Lolla to launch Latin Reggaeton weekender
Sueños Music Festival (Dreams Music Festival) will be the largest Latin Reggaeton music event to ever take place in Grant Park in the heart of downtown Chicago.
The two-day, one-stage event will feature headliners J Balvin, Ozuna, and Wisin & Yandel, with performances from Myke Towers, El Alfa, Jhay Cortez, Sech, Fuerza Regida and more over Memorial Day weekend, 28 and 29 May.
The festival will be J Balvin’s only Chicago appearance in 2022 and his first time performing in the city since his iconic set at Lollapalooza in 2019, and Reggaeton star Ozuna’s first performance in Chicago in four years. Wisin & Yandel, meanwhile, will deliver one of their last-ever performances at Sueños, as part of their final tour, ‘La Ultima Mision’.
“Reggaetón is a massive genre but remains underserved by live festivals in the US”
“We’re honoured to work with the producers of Lollapalooza and Reventon to bring a premier Latin festival to Grant Park in Chicago,” says Baja Beach Fest’s Aaron Ampudia. “Reggaetón is a massive genre but remains underserved by live festivals in the US. We’re extremely proud to expand to the US and serve our community and everyone who enjoys Latin music. Chicago, estén listos para perrear.”
Reventon Promotions’ Enrique Medrano adds: “Over a decade ago, I started Reventon Promotions with a dream of bringing authentic and diverse Hispanic entertainment to Chicago. Now I am excited and proud to be part of the first Sueños festival, an event that celebrates the Hispanic presence in the city, in addition to being held in the iconic and representative Grant Park right in the heart of downtown. What better place is there for thousands of people from different Latin American countries to meet, share, and celebrate with artists of the likes of J Balvin, Ozuna, and many more.”
Lollapalooza Chicago is due to return to Grant Park between 28–31 July, while Baja Beach fest will return to Rosarito Beach, Mexico, for a third edition between 12–14 and 19–21 August.
Move’s Bad Bunny stadium show sells out fast
Bad Bunny’s highly anticipated hometown shows at Puerto Rico’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium sold out in less than 20 minutes, promoters Move Concerts and Noah Assad Presents have revealed.
The urban sensation’s P Fkn R show, rescheduled from May 2020, went on sale on Friday (20 August) and sold out soon after. The concerts, which take place at the 18,000-seat stadium on 10 and 11 December, will be Puerto Rico-born Bad Bunny’s first shows this year.
P Fkn R is the first announced show of a new partnership between Miami-based Move Concerts, which has an office in Puerto Rico, and Noah Assad, whose Rimas Music represents some of the world’s biggest reggaeton artists.
Everyone attending the P Fkn R show will be required to present proof of vaccination
Everyone attending the 10 and 11 December shows, which have a capacity of 35,000 each, will be required to present proof of full Covid-19 vaccination.
The Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the island’s largest, has previously hosted concerts by the likes Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Rihanna, Shakira, Sting and Whitney Houston, in addition to its regular use as a baseball park.
Multiple Grammy and Latin Grammy-winner Bad Bunny will follow up the show with a world tour, El Último Tour del Mundo 2022, which kicks off on 9 February 2022 at the Ball Arena (20,000-cap.) in Denver, Colorado.
LA’s Staples Center reopens after 513 days
Mexican band Grupo Firme have wrapped up a ten-night arena run in the US, seven of them at Staples Center in Los Angeles, selling more than 100,000 tickets and taking the record for the most shows in a single year at the venue by a Latin act.
The banda performers kicked off their west-coast tour at the 20,000-capacity Staples Center on 30 July – exactly 513 since the last show there, on 4 March 2020 – and returned on 31 July and 1, 4, 6, 7 and 8 August.
They then played a sold-out show at Footprint Center (18,000-cap.) in Phoenix, Arizona, on 13 August; reopened Pechanga Arena (16,100-cap.) in San Diego, California, on 14 August; and concluded with another sold-out show at Mechanics Bank Arena (10,400-cap.) in Bakersfield, California, on 15 August.
The shows, Grupo Firme’s first arena concerts, were promoted by Nederlander Concerts. With the O2 in London having reopened on 10 August, both of AEG’s flagship arenas are now back up to full capacity.
Founded in Tijuana in 2013 by Eduin Cazares and Joaquín Ruiz, Grupo Firme have risen to become one of Mexico’s most popular musical exports with their viral mix of “dance-happy norteñas, ranchera and banda music”.
Marc Anthony plots first and only livestreamed event
Organisers of Marc Anthony’s One Night Only global livestream event are gearing up for what they hope will be the biggest Latin music live stream to date, with tickets selling strongly for the Latin superstar’s first and only virtual concert.
The seven-time Grammy award winner will take to the stage on Saturday 17 April for what is described as an intimate, personal performance that promises viewers “an an experience that cannot be duplicated, not even in a live stage show”.
One Night Only is directed by Grammy winner Carlos Perez (’Despacito’, ‘Vivir Mi Vida’) and produced by Magnus Studios, with worldwide promotion/marketing handled by Miami-based promoter Live and Loud. Global distribution will be managed by Live and Loud Studios, the promoter’s development and distribution arm.
“There is no generation that has not danced to or enjoyed Marc Anthony’s music,” says Nelson Albareda, CEO of Loud And Live, “so it gives us great pride to be able to collaborate with one of the most distinguished and legendary Latin artists of our time, in what will be his first and only virtual global concert.
“It gives us great pride to be able to collaborate with one of the most distinguished and legendary Latin artists of our time”
“Despite not being able to offer live events during this time, these virtual concerts have helped us forge ahead and bring unique experiences to our global audiences.”
“At Magnus Studios, we have set out to create unique content and entertainment experiences for worldwide audiences,” adds Magnus COO Felipe Pimiento. “Music is in our DNA and this will mark the first of many music content productions in our production pipeline; we couldn’t be prouder than starting with our own, Marc Anthony, to set the stage for what’s to come.”
Adds Anthony: “Although for safety reasons we cannot be face-to-face yet, I am sure that this concert will create an incredible magic that will allow me to connect with my audience, wherever they are, and with all those who need a touch of music to move forward; to maintain the passion for life.”
Tickets for One Night Only, which are priced at €20 + €7.24 booking fee, are available from Anthony’s website.
Latin music specialist Loud and Live, which is partnered with leading Latin American promoter Move Concerts, recently promoted Florida’s first concerts of 2021 with three back-to-back shows by ‘Gentleman of Salsa’ Gilberto Santa Rosa.
Luis Fonsi brings live music back to Santiago, Chile
After 26 days of silence at Santiago’s Movistar Arena, live music returned once more with a two-night run by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi.
On 8 and 9 November, the ‘Despacito’ singer played the first concerts at the 17,000-capacity arena since Iron Maiden’s 14 October show.
Anti-government protests have been ongoing in the Chilean capital since 18 October, sparked by a public transport fare hike and evolving into more general protests about inequality and the cost of living. The protests, and consequent government-imposed curfew, resulted in the cancellation of many live entertainment events.
The Fonsi dates marked the end of the singer’s Vida world tour, which has seen him play 16 shows in Europe, ten in North America and six in Latin America.
After 26 days of silence at Santiago’s Movistar Arena, live music returned once more with a two-night run by Luis Fonsi
The concerts also signalled the resumption of programming at the arena, with upcoming dates from Erkyah Badu, Marco Antonio Solís, Shawn Mendes and J Balvin.
Hot Chip, who were supposed to play in Santiago on Saturday, had their performance cancelled last minute. “We don’t have details yet but we were set up and ready to play when we were to told it was not going ahead for safety reasons,” the band posted on Twitter.
The group were scheduled to play at the Ten Years of Fauna event, a replacement for Fauna Primavera festival, which was cancelled earlier this year due to “difficulties in finding an appropriate headliner”.
For an in-depth look at the fast-growing Latin music world, read IQ’s recent feature on the genre here.
¡Olé! Industry experts on Latin music’s inexorable rise
Madison Square Garden, NYC’s legendary venue, has borne witness to just about everything over the years: debauchery, madness and all manner of weird and wonderful stage shows. But until J Balvin rocked up this September for an eagerly anticipated sold-out show, it had never played host to enormous, inflatable, pop-art sculptures, a squadron of puffy, bouncy mascots that looked like sentient clouds, or a singer riding across the stage on a huge yellow duck.
“¡Por la cultura!” (“for culture!”), he declared, before departing, raucous applause and calls for another encore ringing in his ears. It was yet another milestone in the reggaetonero’s meteoric rise to arenas and the top of the charts, and something of a dream for the Colombian star. But then Latin music – música urbana – is enjoying a surge in popularity all over the globe and giving birth to a new generation of superstars.
Bad Bunny, the Puerto Rican rapper, sold out MSG back in April; Rosalía, the Spanish singer who combines flamenco with pop, has taken Europe by storm. “I believe we are experiencing the best time for Latin music ever,” says Dody Sirena, a founding partner of DC Set Group, one of Brazil’s biggest promoters.
“If you look at the 2019 RIAA mid-year report, you’ll see that Latin music is continuing to grow at a double-digit pace.”
Henry Cárdenas, CEO of the Cárdenas Marketing Network and the recently crowned Billboard Latin Power Player Executive of the Year for 2019, agrees. “Latin American music is the fastest-growing genre in the world, and it has a tremendous commercial force,” he says. “We have witnessed general market artists venturing into the Latin American market, which continues to expand and pique mass appeal.”
música urbana is enjoying a surge in popularity all over the globe and giving birth to a new generation of superstars
That’s an observation echoed by Nelson Albareda, CEO of Miami-based sports and entertainment operation Loud and Live: “Latin music has quickly become the fastest-growing genre in the global market,” he says. “As it pertains to Latin America, genres such as reggaeton, cumbia, bachata and merengue dominate in major markets including Colombia, Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Chile, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Venezuela.”
That mass appeal means that the genre is “more popular globally than ever before,” according to booking agent Jeremy Norkin of United Talent Agency (UTA). UTA is home to both longstanding Latin music stars such as Pitbull and Sean Paul, and break-out artists like Lali, and Norkin notes that “Latin music has gained a strong presence among multi-genre events that previously haven’t featured the genre.
“For example, Spanish-speaking talent had a significantly larger footprint at 2019’s Lollapalooza festivals in South America.”
The absolute biggest artists remain those who came to prominence during the late-nineties ‘Latin explosion’ – household names who long ago crossed over to ubiquity (think Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, Ricky Martin, Marc Anthony and Enrique Iglesias). But a new generation of musical talent is selling out arenas in Latin America and beyond while racking up staggering streaming numbers and video views; J Balvin and Bad Bunny are just the tip of the iceberg.
Ozuna, Maluma, Luis Fonsi, Becky G, Manuel Turizo and Sech are the most common names cited as representing the future.
A new generation of musical talent is selling out arenas while racking up staggering streaming numbers and video views
“They have tremendous talent,” says Cárdenas, of the latter three in particular, “and they are leading the way for a new generation of stars.”
“Ozuna, Lunay, and Rosalía” are Phil Rodríguez’s choice regarding those ready to ascend to the next level internationally. But Rodríguez, founder of Move Concerts, also notes that it can vary from country to country; in Puerto Rico, for example, trap and reggaeton stars top the charts, while in the USA it’s a more balanced mix of urban acts.
Albareda, whose company recently agreed a deal with Rodríguez’s promoting powerhouse Move Concerts, cites Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Pitbull, Maluma, Ozuna, Daddy Yankee, Romeo Santos, Karol G, Nicky Jam, Farruko, Becky G and Natti Natasha as some of the genre’s biggest stars.
Fernando Moya, of Buenos Aires-based Ozono Producciones cites Maluma, Sebastian Yatra and Tini as his picks, but states, “Paulo Londra, Duki, Wos, Louta and other trap artists are pushing and changing the music charts, having more listeners than pop, reggaeton and Latin music.”
While Latin music has always enjoyed a certain level of popularity – Bruno Del Granado, an agent at Creative Artists Agency, points to Julio Iglesias and Gloria Estefan’s Miami Sound Machine “blowing the door wide open globally” in the 70s and 80s – Cárdenas points to successes by “the Godfathers, Daddy Yankee and Nicky Jam” as opening the floodgates more recently.
“I believe we are experiencing the best time for Latin music ever”
Bad Bunny, too. “You could say he is a poster child for the movement,” says Cárdenas.
And then there’s ‘Despacito’ (which, ironically, translates to “slowly” in English). The song, released in January 2017, was a phenomenon; the official video now has over 6.4 billion views on YouTube, and over 2bn streams on Spotify. It was also the first track primarily sung in a language other than English to pass the billion mark, a game changer that signified a paradigm shift – no longer was an English-language version a necessity for artists looking for hits abroad.
‘Despacito’ also underscored a change in consumer and listening habits. In this brave new world, streams outrank sales and power a model where singles, or a constant flow of new material, matter way more than the narrative and commercial build-up around traditional album campaigns.
Much like in the world of rap and hip-hop, Latin music’s rise has mirrored that of technology and social media, platforms that today’s savvy stars know how to game to their advantage.
“YouTube is the platform of choice for consumers of Latin music,” argues Michel Vega, CEO and founder of Magnus Media, a global management and representative company. “If you look at the top 25 videos globally on any given week, a disproportionate amount will be Latin music.”
“Look at Nicky Jam or Bad Bunny – before, it would have taken an artist years to gain that kind of traction”
Moya believes that radio’s local language format historically held back Latin repertoire. “Digital platforms changed the market, as the audience started to choose what to listening and not just what the radio plays,” he says.
“Before, radio [stations] only played music in English and the native language of the country – they did not experiment with new varieties or styles of music or artists of different countries, regions or cultures. Now, there are no limits. On the contrary, consumers are able to reach random options based on their tastes and have the possibility to discover new types of music, new artist, whatever they want.”
Cárdenas agrees. “Streaming has changed the landscape of the industry for new artists, as these methods of distribution make for easier consumption for the listener. Look at Nicky Jam or Bad Bunny – before, it would have taken an artist years to gain that kind of traction.”
And, as Norkin notes, while word of mouth has always been key, “the difference is that today there are a wide variety of platforms that allow recommendations to be communicated instantaneously and on a massive scale.”
“They have more options than ever to become very popular as an independent”
Such a shift has also seen the new breed of stars ripping up the rulebook and essentially creating new norms as they go. Traditional routes to the top are not as relevant, and artists know their worth.
“Most of them are not interested in advances, 360 deals or traditional media,” says Sirena. “They have more options than ever to become very popular as an independent through distributors or with a major.”
Norkin notes that within this brave new world, some artists got their start – and continue to operate – as their own publishers, record labels and producers. “Many of them even own their own masters,” he says.
A DIY ethic is also strong. While bigger stars still tap into traditional record label systems, Del Granado believes that many new talents “are cognisant that we’re living in a DIY world and so need to do things themselves. From recording to shooting videos to handling social media, they have become masters of their domain.”
Exit 2.0: back to the future of the Balkans’ biggest festival
Exit Festival, a live music event spawned from the desire for peace and freedom in the Balkans, is turning twenty years old this year, with a brand new set of social aims appearing at the top of its agenda.
Founded by Dusan Kovačević, Ivan Milivojev, Bojan Boskovic and Milos Ignjatovic in 2000, the first edition of Exit Festival took place in University Park in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, with the objective of connecting like-minded Balkan people and encouraging political engagement among the youth.
“Exit was the first mass gathering of young people from former Yugoslavian countries after the Balkans War [which took place from 1991-1999],” Sagor Mešković, the festival’s chief communications officer, explains to IQ. “It started off as a youth activism movement for peace in Serbia and the Balkans.”
“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again,” adds Exit co-founder Kovačević. “Emotions were so high, that most of the artists said that they played the best concert of their tour , or even their whole career, at the event.”
Twenty years on, Exit Festival has just enjoyed its biggest year yet, welcoming 200,000 fans to its permanent site at Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress for four days of performances from the likes of the Cure, Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, the Chainsmokers and Greta van Fleet.
“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again”
Adding to its flagship event, the Exit team have now developed an extended festival network, providing “the biggest cultural bridge between the countries of the former Yugoslavia” in the form of No Sleep Festival in Serbia, Sea Star in Croatia, Revolution Festival in Romania and Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro.
This unique history and ethos is the driving force behind the desire for Exit to remain independent.
“Exit didn’t start for profit,” states Kovačević. “I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals – they are still doing great shows and people are having fun – but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this.”
With so much history behind them, the twentieth anniversary of Exit Festival is “important on so many levels, not just for us, but for the whole region,” says Kovačević.
Exit 2.0, as the anniversary event is dubbed, will look to the future as well as celebrating of the past, a fact reflected in the very programming of the festival. “We are going to bring back some of the acts that marked our history and mix them together with those who are making an impact in this day and age,” states Kovačević.
With over 20 stages and even more genres of music, Exit’s line-ups are broad and diverse, frequently seeing pop stars and leading electronic acts headlining alongside rock, and even metal, bands. A dedicated Latin stage has been present at Exit since day one, which now seems “almost prophetic”, given the global Latin music rise we see today.
“I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals, but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this”
Although line-ups are always eclectic, the billing never tends towards the generic due to the team’s habit of booking based on “gut feeling”, in addition to using data, metrics and ticket sales figures. “The irrational part of us is the one that makes a good line-up,” states Mešković. On a more personal level, the team also strive to work with the artists “who have a similar ethos to ours.”
For Exit, it is vital to “be one with the audience”, making sure every decision is guided by the wants and needs of the fan. To this end, the festival aims to keep tickets affordable, especially for the local audience. “We never want to lose our local fans,” says Kovačević, “because if we did, we would lose our soul.”
In addition to its core audience of locals, Exit’s fan base has become more and more international over the years. Fans travel to Serbia from elsewhere in Europe, as well as from Asia, America and Australia to attend the event.
“We are bringing a lot of tourism into the country,” says the Exit co-founder, explaining that the boost the festival has given to the country’s international reputation is often compared to that made by Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic.
Together with the tennis player, Exit Festival has now set up a foundation to help build nursery schools in Serbia, one example of the festival’s continuation of its social activist roots.
“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference”
Another example is Life Stream, the environmental campaign launched by Exit at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October. “The Life Stream project aims to put the festival industry at the forefront of the fight for life on the planet,” explains Kovačević.
The idea is to inject imagery, text and data relating to environmental issues into live streams from music festivals, to harness the “visibility and influence” they have for the good of the planet.
“We don’t want to show despair only,” says Mešković, “we also want to show there is some hope and to mobilise people to take action – because there is still time.”
The upcoming edition of Exit will serve as a major platform for the project, with both Kovačević and Mešković hoping other festivals will follow suit.
“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference.”
Exit 2.0 takes place from 9 to 12 July 2020 in Novi Sad, Serbia.
Juan Luis Guerra celebrates Miami success
Grammy- and Latin Grammy-winning artist Juan Luis Guerra broke his own attendance record on Saturday 5 October at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.
Part of Guerra’s national Literal tour, the show played to a sold-out of arena of more than 13,000 fans, and included special appearances from contemporary Latin stars Juanes and Monsieur Periné.
Remaining stops on the Literal tour include Los Angeles (20 October), Washington DC (25 Oct) and Orlando, Florida (27 Oct).
Dominican Republic-born Juan Luis Guerra has won two Grammy Awards and 21 Latin Grammys, and sold more than 70 million records worldwide.
The Literal tour is promoted by Loud and Live, which launched a JV with leading Latin American promoter Move Concerts earlier this week.