Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Through Music

Latin music is as rich and diverse as the 34 countries and territories it represents. With a variety of genres and styles, it documents the historical journey of Hispanics around the world.


On Pandora, Hispanic listeners share a strong connection to their heritage and music. In fact, 83% say their ethnicity is important to define who they are, and 74% say music connects them to their culture. [1] As their top destination for music discovery and recommendations,[2] Pandora reflects where our Hispanic listeners come from and anticipate where they want to go. That’s why Latin music ranks #1 for all time spent listening on Pandora—with an average listening time of 11 hours every month. [3]


As a marketer, you can tap into cultural insights to serve messages that resonate. In a recent Pandora study, we found that incorporating cultural nuances such as relevant music or talent into your ad creative can drive lifts in affinity upwards of +62% among Spanish preferred Hispanics and +71% among bilingual listeners. [1]


To help marketers connect with the growing Hispanic audience, we compiled a list of the most popular Latin music genres and styles by country of origin.


Join us as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in a  journey of music and culture.




With a Hispanic population of over 57 million, the United States is home to a number of highly popular Latin genres. This gave birth to a variety of rhythms that derived from the sounds of Latin American music.



Salsa is one of the most popular Latin music genres in the world. Originally developed within the Puerto Rican and Cuban community of New York, Salsa draws heavily from the musical roots of the Cuban and the African-Caribbean experience. Its sound is a product of various musical genres including the Cuban son, guaracha, cha chá, mambo, bolero, and the Puerto Rican bomba and plena.



The Texan variant to norteña with elements from Mexican-Spanish vocal traditions and Czech and German dance tunes and rhythms. The music is traditionally played by small groups featuring accordion and guitar.


Listen to the sound of Nuestra Herencia




Mexican music has been influenced by a variety of cultures, most notably the culture of the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Europe.  



Style of music and ensemble (band) who perform with wind instruments, mostly of brass and percussion. Its roots come from the overlapping of Mexican and German polka music as well as 19th-century military bands.



Genre from the northern part of Mexico and a mixture between German folk music and local Northern Mexican music. Its sound is characterized by the accordion and the bajo sexto.  


Cumbia Sonidera:

An updated synth-heavy version of Cumbia, a rhythm originated in Colombia that has been popular in Mexico since the 1950s.  


Listen to the sound of Mexico



Known as "The land of a thousand rhythms," Colombian music has strong African, Indigenous European and modern American influences.



A folkloric rhythm and dance with strong indigenous and African influences. Characterized by the sound of drums (calling, merry, and bass drums), wind instruments (gaitas, flautas de Milo), and the melodic structure of European music.



Defined as "born in the valley," Vallenato originated from farmers who used the music as a form of language to deliver messages from town to town. Characterized by the sound of the caja vallenata, the guaracha, and the accordion.


Listen to the sound of Colombia




Often considered one of the richest and most influential regional sounds, Cuban music has contributed to the development of a wide variety of genre and musical styles around the globe.



The Cuban Son is one of the most influential and widespread forms of Latin American music. The sound combines the structure and traits of the Spanish canción with Afro-Cuban stylistic and percussion instruments. Its derivatives and fusions, especially salsa, have spread across the world.  



Cuban musical genre and dance style with African influences, particularly from Congo. The sound arrived in New York in the 1940s, later becoming a transnational popular cultural phenomenon.



Named for a formal dance that originated in late 18th-century Spain, bolero emerged as a romantic, troubadour-based popular music form a century later in Cuba.  


Listen to the sound of Cuba




The music of Puerto Rico bears strong Spanish and West African influences. Its popularity is widespread, with a distinct rhythm that can be heard across the globe.


Bomba & Plena:

Bomba & Plena rhythms are part of the folk music of Puerto Rico. Bomba is described as a dialogue between dancer and drummer as if the drummer were challenging the dancer to a rhythmic duel. Plena is an informal folk-song genre, in which alternating verses and refrains are sung to the accompaniment of panderetas.



This younger genre which originated in the clubs of San Juan, Puerto Rico influenced by hip-hop and Caribbean music. Vocals include rapping and singing, typically in Spanish.


Listen to the sound of Puerto Rico




The music of the Dominican Republic is primarily influenced by West African, European, and native Taino influences.



Merengue was already a decades-old folk music when it was popularized in the New York City nightclubs of the first half of the 20th century, and by the Dominican dictator Trujillo. It has a moderate to very fast 2/4 rhythm played on güira (metal scraper) and the double-headed tambora (drum).



Originally known as amargue ("bitter music"), bachata drew elements from bolero and son. For years the music was considered low-class, but today it is widely accepted through many classes of Dominican society.


Listen to the sound of Dominican Republic



The music of Brazil encompasses various regional musical styles influenced by African, European and Amerindian forms.



With roots reaching as far back as the 16th century, samba music is the Brazilian musical product of the West African slave trade. From the beginning of the recording era, it has been recognized around the world as Brazil's chief cultural expression.


Bossa Nova:

Translated as "new wave," bossa nova's blend of traditional samba with American jazz created the breezy sound of Brazil that took over the world in the 1960s and remains popular today.


Listen to the sounds of Brazil



[1] Pandora Hispanic User Study, January 2017

[2] comScore Media Metrix, July 2018

[3] Pandora Internal Data, August 2018