The Miami Story
Located in the crescent of Latin America and the Caribbean, Miami has become the center of the Latin music recording industry.
In the 1930s Miami was a popular stop for touring bands like Machito and his Afro-Cuban Orchestra. But the city’s live music scene developed slowly, forging strong ties to Cuban and Caribbean traditions. Unlike the pattern of economic immigration seen in other U.S. cities, Miami was strongly shaped by the political exodus from Cuba following the 1959 revolution. The city became a Latino business hub because of the large number of Cuban exiles who migrated there. They held onto their traditions and culture, but young Cuban-American youths began listening to U.S. radio, as well as music by Miami-area musicians, many of whom were emigrants from other Caribbean, Central American and South American countries. Gradually, the younger generation of Cuban-Americans began blending Cuban musical traditions with elements of rock, pop, disco and funk to create something new and highly danceable. By the mid-1980s, the “Miami sound,” as it was labeled, became widely popular throughout the world. The success drew the attention of the major record labels which set up offices in Miami to capitalize on the city’s location and that many of the biggest stars in Latin music, including Gloria Estefan and Ricky Martin, lived there. Today, Miami continues to be the nexus of the Latin music recording industry and the city annually hosts the Calle Ocho Festival, the world’s largest street fair featuring Latin music and culture.