September 30, 2023

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Peso Pluma, Eslabon Armado & More Driving Regional Mexican Music Surge – Billboard

4 min read

While superstar musicians from Puerto Rico, Colombia and across the Americas have raised the profile — and bottom line — of Latin music in recent years, 2023 is turning out to be a breakout year for a particular kind of Latin music.

Regional Mexican music consumption in the United States jumped 42.1% year to date through May 25, according to Luminate. The genre — comprised of banda, corridos, norteño, sierreño, mariachi and more subgenres — had 5.81 million equivalent album units [EAUs] in the first 21 weeks of 2023 compared to 4.09 million EAUs in the prior-year period. EAUs combine album sales in addition to track sales and streams converted into album units.

That outpaces gains in the Latin genre overall (+23.1%), as well as country (+21.7%), dance/electronic (+15.5%), rock (+12.4%) and pop (+10.3%), as well as the overall market (+13.4%). Only K-pop — up 49.4% year to date as Korean music companies partner with U.S. labels to further penetrate the U.S. market — has performed better than regional Mexican.

The numbers are on track with Mexican music’s exponential and global growth — which Billboard has been reporting on — over the past few years. The legacy genre, which has been around for more than a century and a half, has experienced a newfound popularity, ushered in by a new generation of Mexican and Mexican-American artists who have subtly fused core traditional sounds with urbano/hip-hop styles appealing to a younger, digitally connected audience — mostly notably Eslabon Armado, Peso Pluma and Grupo Frontera.

About 99% of regional Mexican consumption comes from streaming. Through May 25, on-demand audio streaming from services such as Spotify and Apple Music accounted for about 90% of consumption of regional Mexican music. The remaining streaming consumption came from video streaming platforms such as YouTube and programmed streams from Pandora and other non-interactive radio services. Physical sales are not important for the genre — some artists are digital only — accounting for about 1% of total consumption.

Collaborations have driven success for regional Mexican artists, with Elsabon Armado and Pluma’s hit single, “Ella Baila Sola,” and Grupo Frontera’s collab with Bad Bunny both reaching the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 in May. Both songs are currently part of a handful of regional Mexican songs that are surging on the Billboard Global 200 chart, where representation of the genre went from notably absent to now comprising nearly 10% of the entire ranking. Sixteen regional Mexican songs have debuted on the Hot 100 as of June 2; the chart dated May 6 set a record, with 14 positions occupied by regional Mexican tracks and another held down by a remix of Latin urban artist Ynvg Lvcas’s “La Bebe” featuring Pluma.

Latin music has soared in recent years with the help of artists such as Puerto Rico’s Bad Bunny and Colombia’s Karol G. In 2022, Latin music consumption grew 28.2% and was the No. 5 genre in the U.S. behind R&B/hip hop, rock, pop and country. Bad Bunny alone accounted for 6.7% of Latin consumption in 2022 when his album Un Verano Sin Ti finished the year as the top album in the United States and put 24 tracks into the Hot 100 chart.

Regional Mexican represented 18.2% of Latin consumption in 2022, about the same as the prior two years (19% and 18.7%). But through May 25, a handful of standout successes helped regional Mexican increase its share of Latin consumption to 20.1%.

Eslabon Armado is the leading regional Mexican act thus far in 2023. The four-piece group from California’s central valley accounted for about 8% of regional Mexican consumption through May 25 and boasted the second-highest consumption of any Latin artist behind Bad Bunny. That’s translated into chart success, including reaching No. 4 on the Hot 100 with “Ella Baile Sola” and reaching No. 6 on the Billboard 200 albums chart with Desvelado on DEL Records. The second- and third-leading regional Mexican artists, Ivan Cornejo and Junior H, both rank amongst the 11 most popular Latin artists in terms of EAUs — behind Colombian superstar Shakira and ahead of American-born Puerto Rican rapper Eladio Carrion.

This year, the top regional Mexican albums are dominated by artists, not compilations. Sony Music Latin’s Fuerza Regida has both the top album, Pa Que Hablan, and the No. 4 album, Sigan Hablando. Last year’s top albums, Modo Despecho and Cantina Mega Mix, rank at No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. In the same period in 2022, nine of the top 10 regional Mexican albums were compilations such as Universal Music Group’s Modo Despecho, Cantina Mega Mix and Cumbias de Microbusera. Corta Venas by DEL Records’ Eslabon Armado was the lone artist album in last year’s top 25 regional Mexican albums.

Collaborations have added to regional Mexican artists’ success in 2023. Eslabon Armado’s share of the subgenre increases from about 8% to 9.6% when collaborations with Cornejo, Junior H, Grupo Frontera, Fuerza Regida and Luis R. Conriquez are counted. Fuerza Regida’s standalone recordings and collaborations with Grupo Frontera, Natanael Cano, Peso Pluma, Juanpa Salazar, Marca Registrada, Cornejo, Becky G and others in the top 200 regional Mexican artists give the group a 9.2% share of regional Mexican consumption.

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