The 21st annual Latin GRAMMY nominees exemplified diversity, from the virtuoso Flamenco guitarist in bustling Madrid to the school-teacher turned Peruvian folklorist 5,000 miles away. Yet, fourteen of those hopeful musicians that evening shared one thing in common: they are all musicians represented by CD Baby, the largest digital distributor and retailer of independent music in the world, dedicated to supporting independent artists at every stage of their career. The fact that five of those artists now share another thing in common - a 2020 Latin GRAMMY - speaks to the success of those efforts.
“At CD Baby, we celebrate indie artists every day. We celebrate their passion, their talent, and their thirst for opportunity,” explains Heli Del Moral, VP of International Development. “Today, we congratulate CD Baby artists being recognized by their peers for their outstanding achievement.” CD Baby’s award-winning artists include: Susana Baca’s A Capella as Best Folk Album, Antonio Rey’s Flamenco Sin Fronteras as Best Flamenco Album, Tina Kids’ Canta y Juega as Best Latin Children’s Album, Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra’s Puertos: Music From International Waters as Best Jazz Album, and Paulina Leisring and Domingo Pagliuca’s Eternal Gratitude as Best Classical Album.
The recent achievements, however, have not come out of nowhere; over the last decade, CD Baby has pushed hard to support LATAM and Spanish-speaking artists, striving to pull Latin music from the corners of digital space (like YouTube and Pandora) to mainstream streaming services; streaming services are finally taking notice, adding tracks from CD Baby’s roster to cross-Latin playlists. For example, one of the labels in this space, Deluxe Music Group, has quadrupled their streams since 2019, and the audience is responding. Nielsen/Billboard data show that Latin music listening overall was up by 16% year over year in the first half of 2020.
Yet, for CD Baby, it’s not just about selling music, but building careers. “The Latin GRAMMYs are within reach for those making music from “el corazón” (the heart). CD Baby is proud of our commitment to Latin artists around the world. We have invested in creating a platform that educates and enables Latin artists to do much more than sell their music,” Del Moral explains.
There is perhaps no better example than GRAMMY winner Susana Baca. As the first Peruvian woman to receive a GRAMMY, Baca is regarded as a central figure to the revival of Afro-Peruvian music. Far from being a talented singer-songwriter, Baca has been called a poet, a historian, and an educator, founding the “Instituto Negrocontinuo” (Black Continuum Institute) to foster the preservation and creation of Afro-Peruvian culture, music, and dance. Much like the culture that produced it, Afro-Peruvian music had previously been little recognized; yet, with the explosion of Baca’s international popularity, both the Afro-Peruvivan culture and its folk music traditions have gained widespread recognition and respect across the country.
This dedication to elevating diverse independent voices and traditions is central to CD Baby’s mission; from the north of Mexico to the southern tip of Chile, local reps open doors for the next generation of Latin artists. For international artists like the 2020 Latin GRAMMY winners the Emilio Solla Tango Jazz Orchestra (based in New York), Spanish and Portuguese speaking staff are on-the-ready. As Heli Del Moral concluded, “Parabéns to this year’s CD Baby Latin GRAMMY winners. The results of your efforts are inspiring to all Latin artists pursuing their dreams.” And thanks to CD Baby’s efforts, so many more Latin artists will have that opportunity, no matter their background, country, or community.