Latin music (Portuguese and Spanish: música latina) is a genre used by the music industry as a catch-all term for music that comes from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking areas of the world, namely Ibero America, Spain and Portugal, as well as music sung in either language. In the United States, the music industry defines Latin music as any recording sung mostly in Spanish regardless of its genre or the artist's nationality. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and Billboard magazine use this definition of Latin music to track sales of Spanish-language records in the US. Spain, Brazil, Mexico and the United States are the largest Latin music markets in the world.
Since the late 1990s, the US has had a substantially rising population of "Latinos", a term popularized since the 1960s due to the wrong and confusing use of the term "Spanish" and the more proper but less popular term "Hispanic". A great part of the English-speaking media started to refer to any kind of music featuring Spanish vocals as "Latin music".
Major record labels such as Universal Music Group, Sony Music, and Warner Music often have two divisions dedicated to the Latin market: one which focuses on Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula, and the other for the Hispanic market in the United States. Since 1990, Billboard has held the Latin Music Conference every year. The week-long conference features speakers including key personnel such as executives and producers from the Latin music industry and notable artists in the Latin music scene. The conference concludes with the annual Billboard Latin Music Awards. In 2000, the Latin Recording Academy inaugurated the Latin Grammy Awards to recognize musicians who perform in Spanish or Portuguese. The awards mainly encompass music from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, and the United States. The Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame was established in 2012 to recognize songwriters from Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking regions around the world.
The term "Latin music" originated from the US due to the growing influence of Hispanic and Latino Americans in the American music market, with notable pioneers including Xavier Cugat (1940s) and Tito Puente (1950s) and then accelerating in later decades. As one author explained the rising popularity from the 1940s: "Latin America, the one part of the world not engulfed in World War II, became a favorite topic for songs and films for Americans who wanted momentarily to forget about the conflagration." Wartime propaganda for America's "Good Neighbor Policy" further enhanced the cultural impact.
The Brazilian bossa nova became widespread in Latin America and later became an international trend, led especially by Antônio Carlos Jobim.Rock en español became popular with the younger generation of Latinos in Latin America, notably including Argentine bands such as Almendra. Mexican-American Latin rock guitarist Carlos Santana began his decades of popularity.
Salsa music became the dominant genre of tropical music in the 1970s. Fania Records was credited for popularizing salsa music, with acts such as Rubén Blades, Héctor Lavoe, and Celia Cruz expanding the audience. In the late 1970s, an influx of balladeers from Spain such as Julio Iglesias, Camilo Sesto, and Raphael established their presence on the music charts both in Latin America and the US Latin market. In 1972, OTI Festival was established by the Organización de Telecomunicaciones de Iberoamérica as a songwriting contest to connect the Ibero-American countries (Latin America, Spain, and Portugal) together. Ramiro Burr of Billboard noted that the contest was considered to be the "largest and most prestigious songwriting festival in the Latin music world".
In the 1980s, the Latin ballad continued to be the main form of Latin pop music, with Juan Gabriel, José José, Julio Iglesias, Roberto Carlos, and José Luis Rodríguez dominating the charts.Salsa music lost some traction, and its musical style changed to a slower rhythm with more emphasis on romantic lyrics. This became known as the salsa romantica era.
Bolero music saw a resurgence of popularity with the younger audience. Mexican singer Luis Miguel was credited for the renewed interest due to the success of his album, Romance (1991), a collection of classics covered by the artist. By the mid-1990s, Latin pop music was dominated by younger artists such as Menudo alumnus Ricky Martin, Colombian teen Shakira, and Julio's son Enrique Iglesias. Around the same time, artists from Italy such as Eros Ramazzotti, Laura Pausini, and Nek successfully crossed over to the Latin music field by recording Spanish-language versions of their songs. In the Regional Mexican field, Tejano became the most prominent genre. Selena helped push Tejano music into the mainstream market with her albums Entre a Mi Mundo (1992) and Amor Prohibido (1994), although the genre's popularity declined following her death in 1995. In the tropical music field, merengue, which gained attention in the 1980s, rivaled salsa in popularity.
In the mid-2000s, reggaeton became popular in the mainstream market, with Daddy Yankee, Don Omar, and Wisin & Yandel considered to be the frontiers of the genre. In the tropical music scene, bachata music became popular in the field, with artists such as Monchy & Alexandra and Aventura finding success in the urban areas of Latin America.Banda was the dominant genre in the Regional Mexican music field.
By the turn of the decade, the Latin music field became dominated by up-tempo rhythms, including electropop, reggaeton, urban, banda and contemporary bachata music, as Latin ballads and crooners fell out of favor among U.S. Latin radio programmers.Streaming has become the dominant form of revenue in the Latin music industry in the United States, Latin America and Spain.Latin trap gained mainstream attention in the mid-2010s with notable artists such as Ozuna, Bad Bunny, Anuel AA and Noriel.
Including Spain, there are twenty-two predominately Spanish-speaking countries, and there are many more styles of Latin music.
The term Latin music identifies a wide range of genres and styles generated in Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula
The U.S. record industry defines Latin music as simply any release with lyrics that are mostly in Spanish.
the power that Hollywood films could exert in the two-pronged campaign to win the hearts and minds of Latin Americans and to convince Americans of the benefits of Pan-American friendship