WHAT IS OLMI ?
The Latin American Independent Music Observatory, OLMI, is a data analysis platform aimed at characterizing the Latin American independent music ecosystem, addressing each country’s social, cultural, and economic aspects.
In Argentina, independent labels work with the highest number of artists, with an average of 6.08 artists represented by each company, making it one of the Latin American markets with the highest number of releases per year, with almost 21 annual releases per independent label.
Argentina stands out as one of the most influential music industries in Latin America due to the popularity of its music and the country’s long history in the music business. Therefore, despite economic crises, Argentina’s music industry can overcome the situation based on its cultural support and media impact, making it an attractive market.
Brazil is the largest market in Latin America by recorded music revenues, reaching USD 306 million in 2020. The independent music industry has the most longstanding record labels in Latin America, as approximately 56% of these companies were created before 2010 (compared to only 6% in Chile and 40% in Argentina). For this reason, it has one of the highest female participation rates in the region, with 42% of women working in companies in the independent music industry (compared to 30% in both Chile and Argentina).
The Brazilian music industry represents the most prominent music market in Latin America. However, its integration with the rest of the region is somewhat limited. Today’s most popular genres (sertanejo, pisadinha, Carioca funk) have only managed to position themselves in their own country. Language and the lack of a cultural link with these musical expressions outside Brazil are some of the possible reasons.
Bolivia’s music industry has a lower level of digital development than the rest of the countries in the region. The fact that approximately 27% of its independent labels do not distribute music digitally is evidence of this. For this reason, 82% of these companies reported revenues of less than USD 2,000 per year in 2020.
Bolivian traditional music can be divided geographically and culturally into Andean, Eastern, and Western. As these sonorities come in and out of the cities, they generate new sonic meanings of what is traditional music filtered through contemporary narratives. Thus, the creation of new urban folklore revitalizes the ecosystem by providing a meeting space for orchestras, brass bands, and traditional dance ensembles.
In 2020, 77% of music releases in Chile consisted of singles; this comes with the digitization of independent labels. In 2018, 19.9% of independent labels’ revenues came from audio streaming, but by 2020 this percentage increased to 29%. Considering per capita income derived from musical instrument sales and recorded music revenues, Chile ranks first in Latin America, with USD 3.09 and USD 3.71 per capita, respectively.
One of Chile’s independent music industry’s main features is its strong development in the indie, pop, hip hop, and -especially nowadays- urban genres. In addition, its music industry stands out for its high level of collaboration; IMICHILE is a benchmark for the organization of trade associations in the region.
Thanks to the vital development of the Colombian music industry over the past few years, the population now has a high participation level in music concerts. This becomes apparent because, despite the pandemic, 20% of Colombians attended a live music concert in 2020. The country’s recorded music revenues exceed USD 43 million annually (5th in Latin America), and revenues from musical instrument sales exceed USD 39 million (6th in Latin America); however, the latter dropped by as a result of the pandemic 38.5%.
The Colombian music industry stands out for the visibility it has achieved in recent decades, which translates into its ability to position artists in the global trends of pop and urban music. Although this makes it a very attractive market, domestically, there is no integrated music circuit to connect the country’s intermediate cities, nor are any trade associations among the industry players.
Mexico has significant cultural resources. As a result, total sales of musical instruments during 2020 reached USD 188 million, ranking Mexico in first place in Latin America and 11th worldwide. On the other hand, it ranks second in Latin America in recorded music revenues, with an income of USD 208 million in 2020.
The Mexican music industry is the largest Spanish-speaking market in Latin America, making it one of the main destinations for artists who seek to internationalize their careers. It is relatively easy to tour Mexico thanks to its music circuit between the capital and nearby cities; this is one of its advantages and allows bands to reach large audiences without traveling long distances.
Peru has a music industry that relies heavily on live performances. Before the pandemic, 52.9% of independent labels’ and self-managed artists’ revenues came from live shows. Consequently, due to the pandemic in 2020, 47% of self-managed artists did not generate any income from their music.
One of Peru’s music industry features is the importance of radio; if an artist manages to position at least two songs, they will likely become popular. Despite all this, there is not much space for independent music on the radio, so emerging artists have organized themselves into artistic collectives that have allowed them to consolidate different music scenes and plan music releases abroad.
Uruguay’s independent industry characterizes by self-management. In 2020, nearly 52% of self-managed artists received less than USD 560 yearly for their musical work. That is because, in 2019, approximately 57% of such artists’ revenues were derived from live shows. On the other hand, in terms of recorded music income per capita, Uruguay ranks 2nd in Latin America from 2016 to date.
Although Uruguay is a small country by size, population, and market, it is the most advanced in collaboration/association among artists. Likely related to the country’s political culture, there are regional associations in Uruguay with strong participation, which make up a large cooperative oriented to labor protection, political representation, talent development, and phonographic export.
The best-positioned players in the Costa Rican music industry are event production companies; since Costa Rica is the Central American country with the most significant number of live shows. Despite this, local music circuits have not had a substantial impact on audiences, so the best opportunity for the music industry’s development lies in integrating tourism and large-scale live shows.
From a geographical perspective, there are two emblematic zones for the experience of music in Ecuador: the coast and the highlands. While the coast is known for listening to tropical music with cheerful narratives, the highlands tend to listen to folk music with melancholic narratives and heavy sounds.