“Back then there was salsa,” reflects 25-year-old Puerto Rican superstar Ozuna in the new documentary “Música Sin Fronteras.” “In another era you had rock, then you had time for electronic music. Well now today it’s time for reggaeton.”
Led by the meteoric rise of “Despacito,” with its 4 billion views and counting, reggaeton and other Latin genres have dominated YouTube’s charts all year, with no signs of slowing. Currently, six of the top ten music videos on YouTube’s charts are by Latin artists, with tracks like J Balvin’s “Mi Gente” looking like they might give “Despacito” a run for its record-breaking money.
Arriving right on cue is Ozuna, who for the past three weeks has reigned at the top slot of the global YouTube Artists chart. Produced by YouTube, “Música Sin Fronteras” traces Ozuna’s rise from local talent shows at his school to the biggest stages in the world, all while celebrating Puerto Rico’s vibrant musical culture.
“YouTube is a universal platform that allows me to reach people in Japan, China or Egypt, countries that I would never be able to reach otherwise” the San Juan, Puerto Rico, native explains. “It is the most important platform to reach the entire world.”
Writing his first song at the young age of 12, Ozuna found early inspiration from other Puerto Rican artists who turned to YouTube to spread their music. What followed were a series of do-it-yourself videos showcasing the young singer and songwriter’s undeniable raw talent. “They were low-budget videos: just us in the rain with a camera and an umbrella." Ozuna explains with a laugh. "But they came from the heart. It was starting something from nothing.”
With time the production quality increased — and so did the view counts. Early fan favorites like 2015’s “Si Tu Marido No Te Quiere” crossed 100 million views within a year of being uploaded. But while this early work established the Puerto Rican native as an undeniable star, it was the release of his debut LP “Odisea” that helped Ozuna truly cement a chapter in reggaeton’s global success. A vast departure from the EDM maximalism that reggaeton was known for in the mid-’00s, the album’s distinct sound — replete with glowing trap beats, arresting dembow rhythms and Ozuna’s unmistakable falsetto — resonated far beyond San Juan, earning massive views in places like Bogotá (317 million), Mexico City (285 million), New York (74 million) and Barcelona (31 million). Ozuna’s subscriber count now stands at over 8.1 million, with his total views across the platform recently crossing the 8 billion views mark.
“I carefully try to plan how I release my music,” Ozuna explains of his continued viral success. “I start by uploading my music videos to YouTube before anywhere else. This is to guide everyone to one single place. That way they can enjoy the full experience: the song, the visuals, the meaning.”
It’s a strategy the singer took to new heights with the video for “Siguelo Bailando,” the latest single from his debut. Teaming with YouTube, Ozuna is leveraging the power of his social media following to speed up the release of the highly anticipated video — when the hashtag #SigueloBailando hits 20,000, fans across the world can simultaneously experience the video’s premiere on YouTube.
For Ozuna, the creative release is yet another way to spread his music to wider and wider audiences. “I put on YouTube one single and, in 20 hours, have 5 million, 6 million people,” the crooner recently explained to the New York Times on his continued success. “In one month, I have 100 million. In one year, 1 billion.”