Olaf López, known as Freebot, is an artist from Monterrey, México, who focuses on Tribal, a mix of Latin American genres like Cumbia and regional Mexican with electronic sounds like House and Psy-Trance. Like many Undiscovered artists, he began sharing his music on social media platforms like YouTube but never imagined that his core fandom would come from a country thousands of miles away from his homeland.
Despite being based in México, Freebot’s top Spotify monthly listener cities include Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Pune, making India his top country on Spotify. Freebot is one of many Hispanic artists who are finding an audience in India and borrowing musical elements from the South Asian country to create fresh sounds.
Unlike a lot of music these days, Freebot’s popularity did not spring up from the TikTok well. Instead, listeners found his music through Instagram, shared it on WhatsApp, and brought it to life at street parties where local DJs spun it non-stop, organically increasing the exposure of his music to new audiences who might not have access to social media. This unique engagement trajectory means that even though TikTok is banned in India, Freebot has been able to make use of other platforms to foster relationships with his fans—including multiple WhatsApp groups where he shares tracks directly with his most loyal fans before anyone else.
The strength of this cross-cultural artist-to-fan relationship is thanks in part to data-driven decisions made by Freebot early on. After seeing he had a strong fanbase in India, Freebot released an album with Indian collaborators in March 2022 called “Welcome To Tektriland.” The album includes seven tracks that have reached more than 27K listeners through Spotify playlists.
Multiple Freebot tracks have broken into some of the most important playlists and charts in India. His 2022 hit “Dame” got to Spotify’s Viral 50 - India playlist in April 2022 and remained on it for more than a month. Meanwhile, his track "Tus Besos," is his most charted track despite being released in May 2022, with India being the place where it is charting the most.
While the pandemic made it hard for the artist to connect with his Indian fans live, in late 2022, he was finally able to perform in India, receiving massive support from attendants.
“A couple of days ago I was in Belgaum, I’ve never been received like this in any city. From the start, they were playing my music, people would ask me for pictures. The day of the event was probably one of the most memorable days of my life,” Freebot said in a travel vlog about his India tour. “Very beautiful Freebot. May your love for Indian culture remain forever. Love from India 🇮🇳🇮🇳” a fan commented on the video.
But Freebot isn’t the only Hispanic artist finding success in India. In our latest 6MO report, Spanish artist Wade surfaced as one of the Breakthrough 100 artists of H2 2022 because of his Chartmetric Score growth of 813 percent. Wade’s music started as House remixes sampling Spanish regional music and lyrics, like in his tracks “Mi Amor” and “Passion.” But in 2022, he started sampling Indian tracks and released “Guddi Riddim” with DJ Snake, which samples the Indian duo Nooran Sisters, and “Pan Jabi,” sampling from the 2003 hit “Mundian to Bach Ke.” Both tracks went viral on TikTok, increasing his Spotify monthly listeners and Chartmetric Engagement Score. Despite mostly performing in Europe, the majority of Wade’s Spotify listeners come from India with cities like Delhi and Mumbai in his Top 10.
While Freebot and Wade are recent examples of Hispanic artists finding success in India and working with Indian artists, many others have tried this cross-cultural collaboration before. In 2016, Ricky Martin released one of his biggest hits to date, “Vente Pa’ Ca,” and in an attempt to make it popular beyond his core fanbase, he recorded remixes with artists from all over the world, including Wendy from K-Pop band Red Velvet and Indian singer AKASA. The Spanish-Hindi track ranks in AKASA’s Top 20 and has more than 3.6M streams on Spotify.
Most recently, in September 2022, Panamanian Reggaeton artist El Chombo released “Ella Quiere” with Nio Garcia, Lalo Ebratt, and Offset, which samples “Mundian to Bach Ke.” The Reggaeton remix starts with the Indian track’s characteristic melody, but instead of Punjabi vocals, the lyrics are in Spanish. The official visualizer has 1.2M YouTube views while the track has 1.44M Spotify streams.
In a YouTube video called “El Chombo Presents: How to Make an Urbano Song,” El Chombo documents the process of making “Ella Quiere,” explaining his musical decisions in depth, including why he chose to sample “Mundian to Bach Ke.”
“Siempre me ha gustado el flow de esa gente. Por allá tienen una sazón que por acá no se consigue (I’ve always liked the flow of [Indians]. Over there they got some spice that you can’t find over here),” he says in the video.
El Chombo explains that in terms of musical similarities, the tumbi, which is a traditional Indian instrument used in the song, has a similar sound to the Caribbean congas, so he combined both instruments in the remix track as a representation of this cultural fusion. It’s thanks to this innovative cultural fusion that India currently ranks No. 4 and No. 1 for El Chombo’s Spotify monthly listeners and YouTube views, respectively.
While Hispanic artists are interested in drawing inspiration from Indian sounds, Indian artists seem also interested in this musical fusion. Bollywood’s latest record-breaking movie Pathaan features a song with lyrics in Spanish and Hindi called “Besharam Rang.” “En esta noche la vida es completa. En este segundo la vida es muy rica (Tonight, life is complete. This second, life is plentiful),” the song says as we see Indian superstars Deepika Padukone and Shah Rukh Khan enjoying the Mediterranean coast of Spain. While the song’s music video faced controversies due to clothing choices, and some have even asked for its removal from the movie, the track is climbing on streaming platforms. “Besharam Rang” currently has 41.5M Spotify streams and is in the first position on Spotify’s Hot Hits Hindi playlist.
The success of these Indian-Hispanic tracks proves that cultural fusions can open the door to new markets and lead to unexpected creations that contribute to the ever-changing global musical landscape. This process of glocalization, which we explored in our latest 6MO report, is likely to accelerate this year. So, as the digital world becomes more interconnected, expect more musical fusions bringing together regional sounds from all corners of the world.
Listen to the Artists
- Chartmetric Artist Rank: 42,688
- Genre: Electronic, Latin Dance
- Hometown: Monterrey, Mexico
- Chartmetric Artist Rank: 2,832
- Genre: Electronic
- Hometown: Spain
- Chartmetric Artist Rank: 417
- Genre: Latin Pop
- Hometown: San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Chartmetric Artist Rank: 2,764
- Genre: Latin Dance
- Hometown: Panama City, Panama
- Chartmetric Artist Rank: 686
- Genre: Indian Pop
- Hometown: Mumbai, India