April 7, 2008 / 1:11 AM / 10 years ago

Latino music biz shuns new artists

MIAMI (Billboard) - Reggaeton, the urban music genre shunned by radio and maligned by many critics, is still a force to be reckoned with in the Latino community.

Members of the Puerto Rican reggaeton group, Wisin and Yandel, perform during the closing of the 49th International Song Festival in Vina Del Mar city, about 75 miles (120 km) northwest of Santiago, February 25,2008. REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez

Reggaeton star Daddy Yankee’s “El Cartel: The Big Boss” was the top-selling Latin album for calendar year 2007. So far this year, another reggaeton title, Wisin & Yandel’s “Los Extraterrestres,” has been the top seller.

Wisin & Yandel, however, are the only reggaeton act among the 20 most-sold Latin albums for the period (December 1, 2007 through March 15, 2008). Another urban artist, Flex, who blends his reggaeton base with pop romance, managed to land at No. 18 with his more recently released “Quiero.”

Does this bode negatively for the future of reggaeton? Not necessarily. A slew of reggaeton titles are slated for this quarter, which should bring up the genre’s standing, although almost certainly not to its heights in 2006 and 2007.

Instead, tastes have run more eclectic and conservative for this quarter. The top 20 list includes the soundtrack to the recent Jennifer Lopez movie “El Cantante,” two titles by Aventura (both of those live albums) and a sobering seven greatest-hits sets dominating the bulk of the chart. In other words, fully half of the top 20 are live albums or compilations.

Many of those hits titles were released on Discos 605, the Sony BMG division that concentrates on special marketing and has pushed these titles with targeted TV campaigns. But the fact that so many more buyers are gravitating toward old material rather than new reflects a larger troubling trend.

Billboard’s overall title recap for the same period, for example, features five compilation or hits albums and two concept albums (including Josh Groban’s “Noel”) among its top 20.

But Latin’s reliance on hits and oldies is stronger, and once again underlies radio’s hesitancy to break new material.

One need not look further for proof of this than the Hot Latin Songs recap chart. Here, the charge is led by Juanes, whose “Me Enamora” tops the list, while his second single, “Gotas de Agua Dulce,” sits at No. 15. Beyond that, with the exception of Flex’s “Te Quiero” at No. 6 and La Factoria, every other act on the top 20 is established.

How sad is that? The Latin buyer, it turns out, is far more adventuresome than the radio we hear.

On the albums recap chart, three of the top 20 are titles released in the last three months, by Ednita Nazario, Gilberto Santa Rosa and Flex. Two are brand-new acts (Flex and Camila) — a rarity in Latin — and Wisin & Yandel and Aventura’s resilience shows that youth-driven music can thrive alongside adult contemporary fare.


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