How Mobile Is Changing the Music Industry

Leila Cobo, executive director of Latin Content & Programming for Billboard Magazine and The New York Times best-selling author of Apunta a las Estrellas, has seen firsthand how smartphones and tablets are changing the music industry, especially among Latin youth. 

“Latinos today are more likely to listen to music and watch videos on their smartphones,” said Cobo. “They’re also ahead of the curve when it comes to smartphone technology. So, in many respects, the Latin music scene is ahead of the pace in comparison to mainstream acts.” And both artists and music labels are taking note.

New singles and albums now often debut online, not in stores. Billboard saw the effects of social media and mobile technology recently with Romeo Santos’ new album, “Formula, Vol. 2.” The day after the release, Santos had over 1 million new Facebook likes and generated nearly 1 million more social interactions with a one-day social media blitz, which included engaging fans on Twitter. In just one week, it was the No. 1 Latin album in the country and the fastest selling Latin album in eight years. With an incredible social media buzz, it’s no surprise that 40 percent of the album sales were downloads, an unusually high number for a mainstream Latin act. 

“The trend is streaming in both Latin America and the United States,” said Cobo. “And as we well know, mobile is the instrument of choice among younger consumers. So, thanks to increasingly popular streaming services – like Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Rdio, and others – mobile has really assured its place as a key vehicle in delivering music.”

As wireless technology evolves, Billboard Magazine will be on the beat to report its effects on changing the music industry. As for the future, Cobo predicts that young Latinos, who rely heavily on their smartphones for entertainment, will drive mobile streaming of music exponentially. “For them, the [cell] phone IS the music player. And, what is definitely a fact, is that paid downloads are either decreasing or flattening out while streaming is growing.”