What do Bogotá, Mexico City, São Paulo, Santiago, and Lima have in common? Well, a bunch of stuff, actually, but they’re also all far ahead of New York City when it comes to streaming numbers on Spotify or YouTube.

For years now, Mexico City has been “the world’s streaming Mecca.” Bogotá, despite having a population a fraction of the Americas’ largest cities, consistently tops YouTube’s user rankings, and recently, Brazilian fans of superstar Anitta managed to stream her to the top of the global charts — the first time any musician from Brazil had managed such a feat.

A few crucial factors come to mind when determining what makes the region such fertile ground for digital content. For instance, Latin America’s population is extremely social media savvy — and yes, platforms like YouTube and TikTok do indeed blur the boundaries between streaming and social platforms. 

But this whole situation begs the question: Why, if Latin America clearly has the market for digital content, is there no local platform to monetize that mass of people?

One problem may simply be one of attitude. In a continent that faces such dire inequality and poverty, investing in content creation may well seem frivolous. But take South Korea and its government-led creation of a cultural export giant. 

Back in the early ’90s, Korean lawmakers realized that entertainment was a massive moneymaker when Jurassic Park raked in about as much revenue as Hyundai did after selling 1.5 million cars. It turned out that people playing make believe around animatronic dinos could draw a clearer line to success than the serious business of building the cars that get people to work.

Maybe Latin America’s giant army of content consumers, creators, and fans are simply waiting for a concerted effort by businesses and governments to create a local platform to turn the region into a streaming/content powerhouse. Perhaps, there are deeper, unseen issues that are preventing that from happening. Nevertheless, the first step is certainly for founders, government officials, and society more broadly to stop seeing dance challenges and fan giveaways as frivolity, and more as the path to future greatness.