Today, YouTube announced its most-watched music videos of 2017. Seven out of the 10 spots on YouTube’s list come from Latino artists, including the inescapable “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee featuring Justin Bieber, which has also become the most-watched video on the platform of all time, dethroning Korean viral sensation Psy’s “Gangnam Style” with over 4.4 billion plays. The other Latino frontrunners include: J Balvin; Maluma; Nicky Jam; Zion y Lennox and Descemer Bueno (featured on Enrique Iglesias’ “Subeme La Radio”); and Bruno Mars, whose father is Puerto Rican. The videos combined for more than 10 billion total views.
As of this year, YouTube is the most popular streaming service in the world, with over 1 billion users worldwide. According to a recent study, 27 percent of global streaming subscribers hail from Latin America. As Billboard reported in 2016, this is reflected in the growing demand for smartphones in Latin America, among other trends. In addition to our undeniable cultural and musical contributions, which have long been part of the global music landscape despite industry segmentation, Latinos have become an important part of the music business, and our influence continues to rise.
Latino artists’ popularity on YouTube is proof that they are massively popular in international markets, even if they continue to face barriers to entry in mainstream music in the U.S. What’s more, it points to the fact that Latino listeners have been shaping global pop music trends for some time (check pop’s current obsession with dembow-lite riddims for proof).
The future of Latino artists the mainstream U.S. market remains to be seen, but it’s obvious that our music continues to be more influential with every passing day. We will continue to face challenging questions about representation and exploitation as the global music landscape develops over the next few years.
Check the full list of the top 10 most-watched videos of the year below.