Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Justin Bieber had millions of people fake-sing in Spanish with “Despacito,” and Beyonce recently jumped on J Balvin’s global smash “Mi Gente.” Latinx music is connecting cultures. Are marketers listening closely enough?
Hauswirth/Co teamed up with Pandora and YouTube Music to keep marketers from missing the beat on this growing and diverse audience. Our panel, Music: The Cultural Connector, brought together thought leaders in conversation on music and Latinx identity, covering aspects of race, gender, ethnicity, language, and more.
Claudia Oddo from Pandora opened up the event with an insightful presentation titled “La Nueva Mezcla,” setting the stage for our all-star line-up of music marketing, industry, and news specialists: Freelance writer Lorena Cupcake, University of Illinois at Chicago’s Memo Duarte, YouTube Music’s Johanna Lara and Mindshare’s Lorena Nunez.
Event Team (from left to right): Erin Harris, Pedro Gonzalez, Johanna Lara, Claudia Oddo, Lorena Nunez, Lorena Cupcake, Argelia Martinez and Joanna Lyons
Latinx is a fluid term that can mean different things to different people, but as Memo Duarte explained: “Music is such a powerful way to represent who we are,” and its ability to unify across cultures and communities is totally unique to the medium. Just take a look at last year’s #1 record “I Like It,” which featured Cardi B, a Dominican rapper from the Bronx, Colombia’s J Balvin and Puerto Rico’s Bad Bunny all rapping over a boogaloo sample, a genre that emerged out of New York’s vibrant Latin club scene in the 1960s.
On the heels of the recent Latin Grammys, and the controversy swirling around for their lack of reggaeton representation while giving awards to European artists, Johanna touched on a key point “Latin music is mainstream. Why do we have to be at the Latin Grammys? Why can’t we just be at the Grammys?”
The Latinx population is growing exponentially, so it’s important that marketers and clients acknowledge the change in demographics and actively reach out to those communities in ways that are genuine, informed, and never tokenize or stereotype the audience. As Lorena Cupcake emphasized, the best approach is “to actually hire someone from that community, not just Google how to use [their] language correctly.”
And for Latinx decision-makers, Lorena Nunez stressed that we also have a role to play: “Representation matters. Diversity matters. We finally have a seat at the table. Make that seat count. Be an advocate.” Younger consumers are spearheading movements that welcome inclusivity, leaving marketers with a clear choice: Embrace the rapid evolution of language or be left behind.
“If we’re gonna move forward, it’s really important that we move forward holding hands with other marginalized communities,” said Cupcake, pointing to the marketer’s decisive role in envisioning our future. That means celebrating Afro-Latinx influence on music (and society as a whole) and incorporating inclusive language into the core of our work.
In addition to the panel, the team spotlighted a local organization that is preserving the legacy of Latinx music at schools by raising money for the Chicago Mariachi Project. During the Q&A, guests expressed their challenges with reaching a nuanced Latinx community which fueled our passion to continue hosting these intimate conversations with leading marketers. Check back for our next panel in this series.