¡Más Volumen! Mexico City, The New Digital Music Mecca

By Rodrigo Cervantes
Published: Thursday, December 27, 2018 - 8:45am
Updated: Thursday, January 3, 2019 - 9:19am

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Kill Aniston playing his last 2018 show
Rodrigo Cervantes/KJZZ
Kill Aniston playing his last 2018 show in Mexico City after touring in Mexico and Spain.

MEXICO CITY — Music streaming services such as Spotify are constantly growing, as more listeners prefer them over records. And which one is the largest market for Spotify in the World? Not New York or London, but Mexico City.

In five years, Mexico City has evolved from being Spotify’s first-ever Latin American market to its largest listener base worldwide.

According to data from the streaming giant, Mexico City is a magnet for major music talents, and many players in the scene are taking advantage of the rising power of digital music in Mexico’s capital.

The Musician

In a small yet extremely packed venue, everyone sings along with Josué Guijosa, also known as the folk rock artist Kill Aniston.

It’s a crowd built not by selling records, but through social media and music streaming platforms.

“Now the playlists are the new thing, you know, like it’s the new radio,” said Guijosa.

Within months, Kill Aniston has reached over a million plays and more than a 150,000 followers in 62 countries via Spotify. The United States is home for most of his fans, just after Mexico.

“We used to sell CDs, you know? Sometimes vinyl. But digital music right now is the thing. You have to be there or you are a ghost in the industry,” the composer said.

Guijosa started to play back in the day when big record labels controlled the market, something he always disliked. But now streaming music gives him more exposure — and royalties.

“The thing I don’t like from streaming is that now you don’t have to do albums, you do singles, so to me it’s kinda sad, you know?” said Guijosa.

Kill Aniston works with the company CD Baby to distribute his music on streaming companies. At first, he was skeptical, but now he embraces it.

“It's good as an artist because you get money for that, you know? Money that you didn’t get from the radio,” Guijosa explains.

And Guijosa also created Gira en Kasas concept. He tours using his fans’ homes as venues, organizing the gigs through social media, while getting sponsors.

“I was kind of a close-minded guy, but you have to adapt yourself,” said Guijosa. “I even made my own hashtag called #Josuelfie, which was a joke,” said the artist, laughing.

Samantha Parvin
Rodrigo Cervantes/KJZZ
Samantha Parvin is the owner and founder of a marketing and music agency in Mexico City.

The Businesswoman

It’s not only artists who are taking advantage of the outreach of streaming music in Mexico. Companies are also using it to connect audiences with artists and brands.

“Mexico City is this major metropolitan, contemporary place and the music reflects that,” said Samantha Parvin, owner of Parvin Music, a marketing and music agency in Mexico City.

Her company has worked with major brands such as Corona beer and emerging indie talents such as the electronic tropical duo Sotomayor.

“It’s a huge digital streaming market for artists from outside of Mexico and I see a huge opportunity for us to see all of the amazing artists that are here in Mexico,” Parvin said.

Her company creates unique songs to appeal young, professional audiences.

“There’s much more of a growth of music discovery here in Mexico. And the 30-something and 20-something-year-olds in Mexico are not listening to a lot of mariachi,” she said.

Parvin says corporations want more ears and eyeballs on their brands, and streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music or YouTube are great for that purpose.

“I think it’s definitely a growing market, specially in the world of advertising,” Parvin said.

She has also worked on international projects, such as bringing Mexican hip-hop artist Niña Dioz to work on a song for a Sol beer campaign in Europe.

“It was really cool exporting music from Mexico from independent musicians, creating original lyrics and an original song and having it available in other parts of the world representing a Mexican brand,” said Parvin.

Camilo Lara
Rodrigo Cervantes/KJZZ
Camilo Lara is a producer, entrepreneur and a musician with the Mexican Institute of Sound.

The Producer

Someone who has witnessed the evolution of the music industry in Mexico is Camilo Lara. He is a producer, former director of a record label, musician and owner of a music company called Casete.

His song “Jálale” is one of many he composed in his project called Mexican Institute of Sound, which constantly tours around the U.S.

“I am an adopted child of Tucson,” says Lara, joking about his connection with the Arizonan city and local artists such as Calexico.

Lara also works on movie soundtracks. “Jálale," for instance, was used in Pixar’s "Coco," where he appears as an animated DJ and skeleton.

“It’s been a learning curve to try to discover how it’s going to behave, the whole music business,” the producer said.

Lara said he owns around 45,000 vinyls and 55,000 CDs, but he mainly listens to streaming music now. As technology has changed the way music is distributed and used, his company focuses on the artist and not on the medium.

“Instead of putting together a traditional record label, we decided to just offer the tools to make your own independent label,” said Lara, allowing artists in his company to manage and keep their own copyrights, which he considers the most important thing in the digital era.

“If you don’t own your rights, basically you don’t have anything,” said Lara

For Lara, the Mexico City music scene is booming into many genres. And he is excited to see this happening, along with the evolution of digital music.

“We are a super musical country and city, particularly,” said Lara.

According to Lara, bootlegging and piracy was so big in the past that no one could see the size of the market. But things are getting clearer with streaming technologies.

“With streaming, you can see we are super musical. We are probably one of the countries with more different kind of rhythms,” Lara said.

And as the music market keeps expanding, so will the audiences of independent artists, such as the Mexican Institute of Sound or Kill Aniston.