Non-Spanish people usually have a pretty defined image of the Iberian country, which usually involves tapas, toreros and flamenco guitars. Is it trivial and stereotypical? Absolutely, but these “postcard” images represent a conspicuous part of the Spanish identity, and consequently how the country is perceived abroad. Music obviously plays a big part in this picture: genres like flamenco and jota are not only important on a local level, but they also fascinate outsiders. In addition to this, the recent rise to fame of artists like Rosalía and C. Tangana demonstrates the great potential of embracing your local roots and adjusting them to the 21st century.
Tangana’s latest album El Madrileño was in fact a big revelation for Spain and the rest of the world. After an initial period of experimentation with trap, reggaeton and dancehall, the singer from Madrid went back to his roots, creating a synergic mix of urban beats and traditional elements. An idea that found resistance from the record label in the beginning, as he shared in an interview with Rolling Stone.
“At the beginning, they pulled their hair and thought: ‘This is not happening — all that we’ve invested in the other album.… What you want to do is an album that goes with the trends.'"
This reaction wasn’t completely unjustified: instead of working with the freshest names of the Latin panorama, Tangana wanted to bring together artists like Gipsy Kings, José Feliciano and Eliades Ochoa from Buena Vista Social Club. Definitely some very important names, but mostly unknown to the rapper’s younger audience. While some label executives were already counting the losses, El Madrileño got raving reviews from both his audience and critics, reaching over 5 million streams in less than 24 hours after its release. So far, his lead single Tú Me Dejaste De Querer (Spanish for “You stopped loving me”) has 121 million views on Youtube and 161 million streams on Spotify - making Tangana one of the most listened to artists in Spain at the moment.
As of today, Spain isn’t yet a significantly relevant country in the musical landscape. The 2020 IFPI Global Music Report didn’t place it on the top 10 music markets in terms of revenue, and when looking at the Musically Country Profile of 2019, the Spanish recorded music market generated 140,7 million euros in the first 6 months of 2019. Considering this data, we’re not looking at a particularly good picture, especially when comparing the performance of this country to other European countries like Germany and the Netherlands. Nonetheless, Spanish singers have an incredible advantage compared to their European neighbours: the language.
Spanish is the second-most spoken language in the world by number of native speakers, most of them allocated in Central & South America and part of the Caribbean. This element alone represents a massive advantage for Spanish artists, allowing them to reach a much broader audience. Let’s take a look at what radio airplay data has to say about this.
We monitored the performance of seven songs of some well-known names in the Spanish panorama: Enrique Iglesias (Súbeme la radio and Bailando), Alejandro Sanz (Mi Persona Favorita feat. Camila Cabello), alongside newcomers Rosalía (Malamente - Cap.1: Augurio and TKN feat. Travis Scott), and C. Tangana (Tú Me Dejaste De Querer and Demasiadas Mujeres). It’s a very interesting scenario. Surprisingly enough, Spain is not the main country where these songs get the biggest chunk of radio airplay.
The leading country is Mexico, likely due to its population and consequently to the higher number of radio stations spread around the country. The leading performance: Mi Persona Favorita by Alejandro Sanz feat. Camila Cabello - released in 2019. As we can see in the chart, the song was clearly a massive hit during the first weeks of its release. When looking at an even older song, Bailando by Enrique Iglesias - released in 2014 - the data shows quite an interesting behavior. As of today, Bailando is still able to gather an average of 250 weekly airplays. That’s quite a performance for a song that’s seven years old!
On the other hand, the new generation of Spanish artists doesn’t seem to have the same relevance as the old guard. Still, Rosalía was able to put on quite a performance with her latest track featuring Travis Scott, TKN. C. Tangana, on the contrary, didn’t receive as much love from Mexican radios.
Now let’s take a look at Germany, a country we didn’t expect to rank that high for Spanish music. Germany is positioned #2 according to the total airplay gathered for the analyzed songs. The leading performance: Súbeme La Radio by Enrique Iglesias - released in 2017. The number of airplays this song is still able to get is amazing, an average of 600 weekly, beating even more recent tracks such as TKN by Rosalia ft. Travis Scott. Although Germany was ranked high in this category, the results are based on one song alone, Súbeme la radio. The other six songs analyzed don’t have any relevant performances, especially when looking at Tangana’s and Alejandro Sanz’s.
Surprisingly enough, Spain is positioned #4 based on the total airplay. Here we see a much more variegated picture. Mi Persona Favorita has definitely had a huge impact on the country, probably connected to the relevancy that Alejandro Sanz still has in Spain. However, we can also see that Rosalia and C. Tangana have much more presence, most likely connected to a mix of patriotism and familiarity with the traditional patterns used by the two artists. The performance of C. Tangana’s Tú Me Dejaste De Querer is in fact particularly striking: the Madrid based artist was able to gather 7,940 airplays in just four months, with an average of 550 weekly airplay in the peninsula.
As seen in the analyzed data, Spanish artists definitely have the potential of not only reaching new markets outside their local territory but also scoring a very interesting performance in Latin America, with countries like Mexico, Chile, Argentina and Colombia occupying the top ten. We can see that in general in these countries the analyzed songs are more evenly spread out, mostly due to the language. On the other side, in countries where Spanish isn’t the official language, like Germany, Switzerland and France, we see that the old guard such as Enrique Iglesias and his hit song Subeme la Radio outperforms all the other analyzed songs in terms of airplay, scoring almost 3x Rosalía’s TKN. An interesting exception is Italy, since it behaves similarly to a Latin country, most likely for its overall similarities with Spain in terms of language and culture.
In general, we can see that the old guard of pop artists are performing significantly better abroad, probably because they rely on a consolidated song structure and a production that’s more in line with the taste of the general audience. However, the impressive rise of C. Tangana in Spain could also represent the vanguard of this new generation of musicians that are able to establish a consistent presence outside of their local territory.
How did you find the quality of the information in this article? This analysis was made using data from WARM. Keeping track of radio airplay can unlock limitless opportunities: an artist can discover which genre to focus on for his career, while a booking agent can know where to plan events! WARM provides complete and detailed airplay reports that will allow you to make informed and strategic decisions for your business and help it grow. Get started with WARM now and don’t miss out on any opportunity!