In light of globalisation and of current political and social occurrences happening around the globe, the LATAM region, as far as creative industries are concerned, is set to be one of the most successful and innovative in the world. Undoubtedly, the region still has a lot of ground to cover when it comes to economic development and political changes. We know Venezuela is in one of the worst moments of their history, with record-breaking price inflation, hunger strikes and corruption. And even though the majority of Maduro’s opposition took the National Assembly in 2015, there is word political persecution is strong. That said, new opportunities arise. For instance, Colombia’s recent advancements with the peace talks have led to increased momentum of the present government and attracted foreign investments.

Generally speaking, an underlying factor that has identified the Latin American region is the wide range of intangible cultural heritage. This serves as the basis for present-day creative industries: design, music, sports, textile industry, literature, and many more. As direct participants of this cultural movement in Latin America, we wanted to point out 5 reasons why we believe the music industry in the LATAM region will thrive in the coming years. As we continue to explore how our minds work with music and continue to develop a new platform for music discovery, we believe the region will offer immense opportunities not only for foreign investment but mainly for the conjunction of the entire creative class in the region, paving the way to new business opportunities.

1. Peace talks and future change

Latam Industry - Colombia Peace Treaty. Photo Credit: ColombiaPeace.org
Colombia Peace Treaty. Photo Credit: ColombiaPeace.org

Just a few weeks ago, a ceasefire was signed between the government of Colombia and the FARC. After 52 years of fighting and close to four years of non-stop negotiations (and three months after the main deadline), the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia agreed to a bilateral ceasefire with the Colombian state. Many of us who experienced first hand the violence, unjust system, and political corruption of the 1980’s and 1990’s, including Pablo Escobar’s cocaine kingdom and leading up to the endless violence and kidnaps of the early 2000’s, consider this a complete and utter success of not only the government, but also of all Colombian citizens and the entire region.

Just a few years back, Colombians fled the country in search of better opportunities and a living chance for their families. Some families were affected by numerous kidnaps, by death threats and inspired by the survival instinct we all have. We believe this is one of the most important moments in the history of Colombia and the region, because it is opening the doors for fast paced development in many industry verticals and specially the creative industries. Having the freedom of traveling around the country to share traditions and musical experiences will allow people from many cities to discover and interact with this cultural heritage, which has been neglected thus far due to war and violence. Of course, as any peace negotiation, there is still much to debate and decide, but we believe this will lead to many opportunities in the music industry development and help other collateral industries to grow and succeed.

2. To Brexit or not to Brexit 

Straight outta Europe - Brexit
Straight outta Europe – Brexit

Here at Stereotheque, we are big believers in the power of cultural knowledge and global perspectives. As Colombians ourselves, and having the opportunity to travel the world and see many cultures, we think this is precisely the most enriching aspect of all. Piggybacking on the above point, we were used to admire the way Europe came together in tough moments post-war, during communism, bail-outs, and economic downfalls. After arduous visa processes, many Latin American nationals had the opportunity to visit the old continent, traveling freely through the many countries of the European Union thanks to the Schengen agreement. Now, even though we (Colombians) still need a visa to travel to the UK, most Europeans will again feel the hassle to travel across other countries, and it will definitely feel like a step backward. And we haven’t even touched on the economical and political issues, but that’s for another post.

It is said that it will require many years to understand fully the implications of the Brexit. As far as LATAM is concerned, at least Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru will have to renegotiate the free trade agreement due to the Brexit. Most scholars and specialists see this as an economic downside and negative effect on the region. New opportunities will rise in LATAM because of the connotations the Brexit has imparted to its disputants. For the music touring industries, it will definitely become a challenge, but it will open more roads for European-based artists to travel back and forth to LATAM, the same will be for LATAM-based performers and musicians.

3. Politics or lack thereof in the US. 

We all know the current campaign trail to select the next POTUS is a mess, not to say ridiculous at some moments. Never before has there been as much internet-based discussions and fights due to the controversy caused by the two presumptive nominees: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. This in addition to the recent police-related events involving unjust shootings and overall, the divisiveness between police and citizens.

While we try to steer away from political debates and respect any views and perception, we believe the course the US will take right now will have direct impact on the rest of the world, specially LATAM. But that’s not new. What we are confident about is the fact that Hispanic and Latino voters in the US will have a strong say in the election of the next president.

Unidos App - The next generation of American voters
Unidos App – The next generation of American voters

Technology has given a voice to all minority populations in the US. For instance, Unidos, an app designed to engage young Latinos  to give them information in order to register to vote and have a clear picture of the candidates, is taking advantage of technology to reach audiences and potentially impact the election. One of the most interesting aspects of the app is that it asks for personal interests, asking if you are interested in things like Family, Music, etc. As we know, Hispanics in the US account for the group that spends the most on music per year, an average of $135 USD, compared to the $105 of the average consumer. For instance, the largest pool of radio streaming service Pandora, 25%, are Hispanics. This is a very important opportunity to create incentives for the creative industries, knowing that Hispanics’ decisions will influence the political course of the country for November this year when elections take place. Just read this short Google post about the huge potential of the Hispanic Market.

4. Centuries of immaterial heritage 

Central and South America was colonized centuries ago mainly by the Spaniards, the French and the English, among others. After many years, the blend of cultures in the LATAM region is evident in the sounds, the tastes, and the colors of our people, our music and our food. Even within the same country, take Colombia for instance, our accents, idioms and language styles are very different. Our music is based on cultural traditions that are deep-seated in the African diaspora, with blends of gypsy jazz coming all the way from Parisian cafes, up to Argentinian Tango, arriving to the coastal Cumbias and Porros.

Thanks to globalisation and the vast amount of information we have access to on our smartphones, computers and televisions, this heritage is transcending the barriers of language and politics, becoming a new form of currency of cultural exchange. Not too long ago, Will Smith, an outspoken fan of Colombia’s Bomba Estereo, a psychedelic-cumbia band, loved one of their songs so much that decided to do a feature which led to a performance at the Grammys. Talk about globalisation, right? Since technology is permeating everything we do on a daily basis, this information and access to the arts and music will also get to people’s pockets, opening new roads to distribute and discover music originating from LATAM.

5.  Major sporting and cultural events 

Sports are embedded in our Latin way of life. Soccer is without doubt the most popular game. To a point that even fans surpass their differences and come together to watch a soccer game, as immortalised in the Colombian film “Golpe de Estadio”, where the guerrillas and the national police make a 2-hour truce and watch the game before continuing their cross-fire. And yes, Colombia won 5-0 against archirivals Argentina.

James Rodriguez at Copa America Photo Credit @ Jason Peterson
James Rodriguez at Copa America Photo Credit @ Jason Peterson

Anyhow, global sports events including the World Cup of 2014 in Brazil, the upcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Copa America Chile 2015, and the Copa America Centenario 2016 (held in the USA), are all major gatherings where music, sports and culture make their way to impress and show the world what LATAM is all about. We are confident that in the coming years, these sort of events will continue to make a big splash in the entertainment industry as a whole.

Other cultural events that have a strong impact in the economy of Latin American countries are those sponsored and organised by multilateral institutions including UN and the World Economic Forum. The most recent edition of the World Economic Forum on Latin America was held in Medellin, Colombia, with the focus to reignite Latin America’s inclusive growth. In other words, the region as a whole is trying to come together and bring sustainable impact and economic growth for all its citizens.

As the aforementioned, we believe the region stands tall when it comes to economic development and think the creative industries will be at the forefront of this exponential growth. As we continue to build and iterate on solutions for the music industry and its stakeholders, we are eager to explore the new opportunities that globalisation can offer, taking is to discover new ways of blending the arts with technology, design, medicine, science and culture.

Tomas Uribe

Tomas Uribe is the Co-founder and CEO of Stereotheque. Composer, bass player and front-end designer and engineer. Also a die-hard fan of Nine Inch Nails.

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