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The sweet sounds of music as an economic export

From the Publisher's desk.

Bad Bunny in concert in Puerto Rico, March 2019..
Foto: Juan R. Costa

Over the last 20 years, Latin music has increasingly gained popularity. Ricky Martin’s “Livin’ la Vida Loca” became one of the best-selling singles of all time and helped begin the Latin pop explosion of the late 90s. Then in 2004, Daddy Yankee’s “Gasolina” brought an international breakthrough of reggaetón music. Thirteen years later, Latin artists continued to gain popularity as Daddy Yankee charted again with his feature in Luis Fonsi’s 2017 “Despacito.”

To this day, Puerto Rican artists are continuing to make history and achieve global success with Bad Bunny among the five most listened to singers in 2019, and thanks to streaming platforms, this growth likely won’t stop any time soon. Just in the first two months of 2020, Bad Bunny has already become this year’s artist with the most streams on Spotify in one day. We have also already seen Puerto Rican artists performing at one of the most-watched events in American television at the Super Bowl half time show and witnessed Puerto Rican artists winning both “Remix Of The Year” and “New Artist Male” at the Premio Lo Nuestro in Miami.

The tale of the tape? In about five years, Bad Bunny went from aspiring urban singer packing groceries to winning coveted awards and appearing at the Super Bowl’s halftime show alongside Shakira, Jennifer López and J Balvin.

With Latin music revenues showing the fastest growth in the global music industry, it’s an interesting time to start considering music as an economic export. Right now, pharmaceuticals and rum account for over 50 percent of the island’s exports, but where would these stand if exporting music was worked into the economy?

Music as an export is not a new concept. In fact, South Korea’s boyband BTS is worth more than $3.6 billion to the country’s economy every year, and experts estimate their economic value over the next 10 years at $37 billion. BTS’ global success is not the only thing they have in common with Puerto Rican artists, though. The boyband’s songs are mostly sung in Korean, not English, like Fonsi and Bad Bunny whose top hits are in Spanish. This shows a new shift in the music industry, where for a very long time only English-speaking music dominated the global music culture.

Like we’ve seen over the past 20 years, Puerto Rican artists have made worldwide impact with the help of streaming platforms that support global reach. This transformation of the music industry is an opportunity for Puerto Rico to reshape its economy and realize its potential with the help of creative industries.

The idea of implementing strategies to maximize the potential of creative industries is not new, but there is still likely more that can be done. To start, determining the needs and challenges of creative industries and paying close attention to their contribution to the economy. This economic sector can be further developed through the implementation of laws and incentives that will encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, as well as provide more access to capital and financing. This method of developing local companies that can compete globally will give back to the island in more ways than one.

Which creative industry do you predict Puerto Rico will have a global impact on in this next decade like it did with music in the decades past?

SOL Partners CEO and NotiCel Publisher, Mark E. Curry,. (Juan R. Costa/NotiCel)

*Mark E. Curry is a leading entrepreneur, philanthropist and impact investor. Curry founded SOL Partners in Puerto Rico in 2012, and in January 2017 completed acquisition of NotiCel.  As Chair of the Mark E. Curry Family Foundation, he invests in critical community charitable organizations.