With a smash-hit album, sold-out tour and more opportunities on the way, Bad Bunny is redefining success for a modern Latin artist.
By Griselda Flores
Bad Bunny selling concert tickets that can only be purchased in person in the year 2022 is a very Bad Bunny thing to do. It’s also, perhaps, something only Bad Bunny can do right now.
He made the announcement about his three upcoming shows at Puerto Rico’s Choli from July 28-30 during an Instagram Live on July 2, with nearly 500,000 people tuning in. The move was intended to avoid inflated ticket prices on the secondary markets for the Puerto Rican superstar’s homecoming — which could have very well reached astronomical levels. After all, Bad Bunny is headlining one of the hottest tours of the year, in support of his streaming blockbuster Un Verano Sin Ti, which spends its fifth nonconsecutive week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart (dated July 23).
The decision to only sell tickets in person turned the island’s Coliseo into a campground, with scores of fans lining up as much as a full day before they could purchase them. And not surprisingly, Bad Bunny’s three shows – which will officially kick off his stadium summer tour, a few months after wrapping up his sold-out El Último Tour del Mundo in April – sold out in a day.
Part of the Bad Bunny Effect is his personal touch; the way he engages fans – whether it be getting free tattoos, a trip to the box office with friends, or buying 50-cent beer to celebrate the release of his latest album – makes them part of whichever project he’s working on or promoting, and turns any Bad Bunny experience into an event. Yet the successful in-person ticket sale gambit also demonstrates just how the Puerto Rican hitmaker has become bigger than his music.
Both anecdotal evidence and every music industry metric suggest that Bad Bunny is a cultural phenomenon – an icon, even – whose influence on pop culture is both unprecedented and not done growing. At 28 years old, Bad Bunny has broken plenty of records – he’s the first artist to reach the top of the Billboard 200 singing solely in Spanish, he’s sold out back-to-back arena and stadium tours, and become Spotify’s most-streamed artist globally. To top it off, he’s also joined the Marvel universe — becoming a fictional hero in addition to a real-life one.
Those are all fascinating milestones on their own, but taken together, they redefine what it means to be a Latin artist. At one point, Latin artists had to play by a certain book in order to achieve mainstream success — to have a radio hit and/or record in English to cross over. That formula has helped catapult many artists, like Ricky Martin and Shakira, to superstardom. But Bad Bunny didn’t play by the rules, and so far in 2022, he’s rewritten a bunch of them.
Prior to the May release of Un Verano Sin Ti, Bad Bunny’s El Último Tour del Mundo, which played arenas across North America from February to April, grossed $116. 8 million and sold 575,000 tickets, according to Billboard Boxscore. The trek was No. 1 on the 2022 mid-year Top Tours chart, and topped the chart for February and March, breaking several local Boxscore records.
Yet at this point, the trek looks like a prelude to Un Verano Sin Ti, which was released one month after the arena tour wrapped, and cemented Bad Bunny as a streaming heavyweight who needs little to no radio airplay to score a No. 1 album. Ahead of releasing the 23-track set in May, he said it was “a record to play in the summer, on the beach, as a playlist.” Safe to say, his zealous fans have been doing just that.
Un Verano Sin Ti debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 (dated May 21), earning 274,000 equivalent album units in the U.S., according to Luminate. That number marked the largest one-week total for a Latin music album since Billboard began utilizing equivalent album units as a measurement on the Billboard 200 chart, back in December 2014.
And with 356.66 million on-demand official streams for the set’s songs in its first week, the album registered the largest streaming week ever for a Latin music album. Bad Bunny also posted 24 simultaneous songs on the all-metric Hot Latin Songs chart, as every track from Un Verano Sin Ti flooded the list; that bested Ozuna’s previous record, after he placed 21 songs on the chart from his 2018 set Aura. Additionally, 22 songs from the set debuted on the May 21-dated Billboard Hot 100 — the most in a week for a core Latin music artist and the most in a week performed all in Spanish.
All of those numbers are over two months old… but as Un Verano Sin Ti spends another week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Bad Bunny’s latest LP has barely slowed down as summer rolls on. According to Luminate’s 2022 Midyear Charts, Un Verano Sin Ti has racked up 1.76 billion total audio and video on-demand streams in the U.S. since its release (all numbers through June 30). Billboard estimates total streaming revenue generated by the album is a little over $9 million in the U.S., for recorded master royalties (not publishing).
With 1.287 million equivalent album units, Un Verano Sin Ti is the biggest album released this year, and the second-biggest album of 2022 so far (behind the Encanto soundtrack, which was released last November). Bad Bunny’s latest is followed by Morgan Wallen’s January 2021 release Dangerous: The Double Album (1.216 million), Harry Styles’ Harry’s House (1.180 million) and Gunna’s DS4Ever (926,000).
Although Harry’s House and Kendrick Lamar’s Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers scored bigger first-week album debuts than Un Verano Sin Ti, and while Styles’ Hot 100-topping “As It Was” is bigger than any one single from Verano, Bad Bunny has enjoyed a wider breadth of singles on the Hot 100 — with a whopping 10 still on the chart, nine weeks after the album’s debut. (Harry’s House and Mr. Morale only have a combined three songs still on the Hot 100 this week, despite both sets dropping more recently than Verano.) Latin pop’s mainstream breakthrough came five years ago with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s 2017 global hit “Despacito” — to this day, it’s only one of three tracks predominantly in Spanish to ever top the Hot 100. But with enduring, high-charting and sonically versatile tracks like “Me Porto Bonito,” “Titi Me Pregunto” and “Moscow Mule,” Bad Bunny is relying upon more than one song – or one type of song – to dominate.
There is not a single factor that we can point to that explains the craze sparked by Un Verano Sin Ti: Bad Bunny has used traditional promotional tactics to spread the word, reviews have been stellar, and fans, who had to wait nearly two years for a new Bad Bunny album, were ready to embrace this project. Bad Bunny has had a Midas touch for some time, but his 2022 achievements transcend the typical markers of mainstream success. At this point, Bad Bunny is no longer just making history for a Spanish-language act — he’s just making history, period.
And this might not even be the apex for Bad Bunny, who will make his debut on the big screen opposite Brad Pitt on Bullet Train in August, and is set to headline the Made in America festival in Philadelphia this September. He also has more achievements to potentially cross over his bucket list soon: Could he score his first solo Hot 100 chart-topper? Or become the first Latin act to win in a Big Four category for a Spanish-language work at the Grammys? How about headlining Coachella or Lollapalooza in 2023? For Bad Bunny, the possibilities are endless.