In an age where anything from Daft Punk to Debussy can be summoned at the touch of a screen, it’s hard to imagine that, like bills or milk bottles, new music-hungry Cubans get the latest tunes delivered by hand. In lieu of fast, reliable internet, dealers distribute El Paquete Semanal (“The Weekly Package”), a terabyte of choice music and movies, via USB stick.
This presents a challenge for musicians seeking the latest trends. “I didn’t send an email until I was 27,” remembers Hammadi Valdes, a Latin Grammy-winning percussionist who grew up in the capital, Havana. “That’s a big barrier. For the development of new music, the internet is crucial.”