In recent months, American radio has been dominated by hits from female artists: from Taylor Swift, to Meghan Trainor all the way to Nicki Minaj. I have read countless articles dissecting the topic; how it is good for the industry, what it means for male artists…etc. In my case, it has made me think about the current state of the latin music industry, where, it seems, only men are allowed.
If we examine the Top 25 of Billboard Magazine’s Top Latin Songs, there is only one woman. ONE. To make matters worse, it’s a collaboration: Maná ft. Shakira, which means it is not even the Colombian’s own song. Things get a bit better when looking at the Pop chart, where Natalia Jiménez sits at number 14 with her new single, “Algo Brilla En Mi.” And so, the question is simple: Why? Why is this happening?
I have no idea. But I am sure that is not for a lack of talent. Latin America is producing virtuous female artists like Kany García of Puerto Rico, Francisca Valenzuela from Chile, Debi Nova from Costa Rica and Mariana Vega from Venezuela, to just name a few. They have the talent yet none of them has gained the exposure that is necessary to captivate massive audiences.
Therefore, for me, the first step is radio. Yes, Youtube and Spotify are becoming more and more influential by the second when it comes to discovering new artists, yet the reality is that in the Spanish speaking world radio is still vital in order to be known and heard: it gives you exposure and legitimacy. The day that radio programmers cease to stereotype woman as the ones that only hear the heartthrob balladeer or the catchy reggetonero, that day they will realize how she also looks to identify with someone, she seeks experiences that relate to her reality.
I am not saying radio should now only play female artists, not at all. However, I do think we have to start thinking differently, and start destroying the misconceptions we have in order to catch up with current times.
I only hope that whole girl power attitude takes over Latin radio soon. And I am sure it will.
“Peces” by Franscisca Valenzuela, a pop-rock song with clear influence from Shakira.
The most recent winner of the Best New Artist Latin Grammy: Mariana Vega.
Costa Rican singer Debi Nova has a unique and emotional voice.