The Latino Sound of Digital Music

Spotify, the Swedish online music-on-demand service, has teamed up with Warner Music Group to launch the site in the U.S. With over 10 million European subscribers and followers, including celebrities such as Mark Zuckerberg and Demi Moore, Spotify could definitely benefit from targeting Latinos in order to develop its U.S. presence.

Latinos are listening to more and more music. If you take a look at CD purchases, Latinos over-index, and this is even higher among lower acculturated Hispanics. Paradoxically, they show the same passion about digital music. As I discussed in previous posts, Latinos are embracing and leading adoption of new technologies such as mobile and social media. Ubiquity has become the new norm and this is true with music too. Latinos want to access their favorite artists and songs everywhere, all the time, and in every format possible.

The Digital Shift

Latinos are leading the shift to listening to music online and on computers at a faster pace than the general population. Hispanics are downloading and streaming music with a tendency to use many platforms. Part of the reason is that they first try to find the song for free and if that’s not the case, then they buy it online.

Among Hispanics, the shift to mobile is greater than the general market. On Pandora, Hispanics skew 72 percent mobile and 28 percent web, and mobile is responsible for 83 percent of Hispanic listening hours, reaffirming that ubiquity is the new norm to music. Latinos over-index in all aspects of music on mobile as you can see on the chart below.


The Battle for Listeners

Although Latinos use many platforms like Rhapsody, Napster,, etc., there are two players that have been growing in terms of preference: Pandora and Batanga.

Batanga, a predominantly Hispanic music platform, grew dramatically in 2010. Unique visitors grew by 65 percent, listening hours grew by 50 percent, and the listening time grew to two and a half hours. There are over 250,000 daily interactions on the mobile app and users shared over 60,000 custom radio stations on Facebook in the last month.

Music Genres

Acculturation and language have an important impact on preferences in terms of genres. Here are some findings:

  • Latinos (still) love Latin music. This genre continues to lead preferences. From Mexican regional to Latin ballads followed by Latin rock, Latin jazz, Latin rap, and reggaeton.
  • Latinos don’t just listen to Latin music: rap/hip hop, R&B, and alternative rock are growing among Hispanics too. In the case of reggae, the preference is even higher than for non-Hispanics.
  • Radio listening in Spanish is growing among English-dominant Latinos: Bicultural young adults are reconnecting to their original culture by listening to Spanish music and Latin genres.
  • Non-Hispanics are also turning to Latin music: Pandora has more than half a million registered users that are not Hispanic, yet listen to Latin music. Similarly, Batanga has 834,000 non-Hispanic unique visitors.

Latinos represent a great opportunity for Spotify to develop its U.S. presence. But even if you are not Spotify, music represents a great opportunity for reaching Latinos in the digital space.

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