How the Global Streaming Boom Helped Local Music Consumption Surge in Latin America

In their much-cited 2023 paper “Glocalisation of Music Streaming within and across Europe,” Will Page and Chris Dalla Riva note that the rise of global streaming platforms correlates with the strengthening of local music.

This seemingly contradictory state is what the authors refer to as “glocalisation” — or “glocalization” in the American spelling. And in Latin music, that phenomenon has led to a spike in local genres like corridos, banda, funk and Argentine rap in recent years.

According to Pedro Kurtz — Deezer’s head of music for LATAM, speaking on a SXSW panel titled “Latin Music Momentum In The Age of ‘Glocalization’” on Tuesday (Mar. 12) — it’s about relatability.

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“We listen to music that we relate to, that represents us culturally. You look at artists and they’re speaking my language, and everything moves from there.”

Kurtz appeared on the panel alongside Cris Garcia Falcão, MD of label and artist strategy/GM of Latin at Virgin Music, and Sandra Jimenez, head of music in Latin America at YouTube — and the conversation (which I moderated) often turned lively between the three Brazilian executives.

Their points of view not only highlighted the glocalization phenomenon and how democratization and streaming dramatically changed Latin music, but also the similarities and differences between the Brazilian and Latin American markets, which many tend to lump together — even though they’re vastly different.

Although Brazil is an enormous and powerful market, the music is in Portuguese, and there is still a language barrier that must be broken down in order to break through internationally; even Brazilian megastar Anitta had to sing in Spanish to get noticed.

But, notes Jimenez, “There is no language barrier for Spanish. It’s almost like one big country. It’s a region with more than 300 million people. It’s a huge region.”

Its sheer size has given the region clout.

On YouTube, Latin America is “one of the top three regions in the world in terms of music consumption,” said Jimenez. For Deezer, added Kurtz, “It’s the second most important region in terms of streaming and engagement.”

And the vast majority of the content consumed on streaming platforms in Latin America is local.

For example, Falcão said that before the pandemic, “It was more about Anglo content. Now, it’s more democratic. Everyone should understand our region and our culture and adapt.”

Those who do, win. In Brazil, more than 80% of music consumption is local. In Mexico, says Kurtz, “72% of our streaming comes from local artists. It’s a big number, and local branches are getting more autonomy. Back in the day, we had other forces pushing music.”

Beyond the numbers, there are other intangibles. The Latin diaspora globally has led to music in Spanish, in particular, being consumed all around the world — and that phenomenon was accentuated during the pandemic. “It made us more internal,” said Jimenez. “It wasn’t possible to meet with friends and family, so we created community.”

As Latin music consumption has increased, so has music creation and investment in the region. Kurtz says that starting in 2020, Deezer has seen its number of weekly pitches in the region almost double — reflecting an increased interest in making music.

“It’s about people valuing their own cultures, and the charts are basically a mirror of that,” he said.