Romeo Santos Reflects on the Obstacles He Faced as a Spanish-Language Artist in the US

Lead Photo: Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist
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For most Latinxs, Romeo Santos is a household name. The 38-year-old bachata singer from The Bronx has been filling our homes, cars and bodegas with his reimagined version of bachata since his former band Aventura’s “Obsesión” became a literal obsession for Latinx communities across the world. But for many in the U.S., a mention of the self-proclaimed “king of bachata” might draw a blank stare. That’s hard to imagine, considering he’s sold over 40 million albums, sold out Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium and most recently, MetLife Stadium.

In a moment where Latin music is still often looked at through the outdated lens of “crossover,” (think, “Despacito” Remix), Santos’ smooth bachata sound unexpectedly cut through, and made fans and collaborators out of artists like Usher and Drake – years before these kinds of collaborations became the norm.

Last night, the “Eres Mia” singer sat down with ABC News/Nightline to chat about the difficulties he faced navigating the Anglo music industry as a Latino who refused to sing in English. “When I started doing music, it was a lot worse,” he tells Nightline. “They would not, under no circumstances program a Latin record.”

“At first, they didn’t get it. And I’m not speaking about the fans, I’m speaking about the industry,” Santos adds. “It was very difficult to program a bachata tune in Anglo radio stations. That’s not the case now,” he says.

As Latin music continues to grow in popularity – with Spotify even claiming that their ¡Viva Latino! Playlist is growing five times faster than any other playlist within their top 1,000 – we can only hope success stories like Santos’ – and other artists like Bad Bunny, J Balvin, Karol G and Ozuna – can inspire growth within the Latin music industry, not just at the highest level, but also in a way that benefits new artists and emerging acts across the board.