Facts and numbers from Spotify showed how much power the award-winning group BTS had in the sub-Saharan African music marketplaces compared to other K-pop performers.
That solitary domination no longer applies to Western music. Now, we are witnessing the same global popularity spreading to music from other regions of the world. The South Korean pop music genre known as K-pop is the most recent to adopt this trend of globalization. K-pop is soaring, in part due to the popularization of South Korean culture through TV dramas and helped along by the success of South Korean musician Psy’s famous song Gangnam Style. The K-pop boy band BTS made history this year by becoming the first Korean act to be nominated for the Grammy Awards five times in a row.
What’s delightfully surprising, though, is that while Korean culture and music have gradually crept into the continent, their appeal has continued to rise, despite Africa’s efforts to make its musical presence known to the globe.
Phiona Okumu, who oversees Spotify’s music department for Sub-Saharan Africa, claims
“Surprisingly, there’s been a 93% year-on-year increase in K-pop streams in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, accounted for by over 3 billion hours of streaming. It’s clear from this data that K-pop is not just a passing phase, but has a devoted and growing African fandom.”
Some of the important markets driving this surge are Nigeria, where K-pop streaming increased by 267%, Ghana, with 236%, and Kenya, with 140%. What is driving the continent’s growing interest in K-pop, then?
Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s head of music for Sub-Saharan Africa, revealed:
“In an increasingly connected world, on-demand streaming services like Spotify have certainly made it easier than ever to tap into another country’s music. Streaming has become instrumental in not only enabling the discovery of African music abroad but also in exposing African listeners to new and unexpected sounds,
But the variety of sounds that K-pop has to offer is what’s winning over this new audience. Despite being referred to as Korean pop music, K-pop encompasses a wide range of musical genres, including Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Disco, and even traditional and folk Korean musical styles. K-pop is primarily just music from Korean artists, sometimes known as idols in popular culture.
BTS, who is the most streamed K-pop artist in Sub-Saharan Africa and has the most streamed tracks, covers nearly every music genre in their history, including South African-grown Gqom. The band’s hit song IDOL has Gqom-influenced sounds, and the band pays homage to Africa in the music video by dancing and wearing outfits with African prints. In 2020, the girl group BS (or Black Swan) made history when they unveiled Senegalese model Fatou Samba as the first-ever African K-Pop star.
K-pop stars are renowned for their incredibly precise and lavish choreography, high-quality stage and music video productions, and the unique style and “concept” of each K-pop group, in addition to their wide variety of musicality. Not to mention these incredibly skilled artists’ impeccable looks and attire.
And Phiona Okumu added
With millions of streams in nations like South Africa, Kenya, and Nigeria—the top three for K-pop consumption on the continent—K-pop demonstrated this year that it is still popular in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Mauritius, Ghana, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Botswana were among the other nations that made it into the top 10 K-pop markets in SSA.
Through their collaborations with artists from the West, K-Pop performers have also increasingly sought fans around the world. My Universe, a collaboration between BTS and Coldplay, is the most streamed K-Pop song in Africa. Left and Right, another collaboration between Charlie Puth and Jung Kook of BTS, is in second place.
|TOP 10 MARKETS FOR K-POP IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA|
TOP STREAMED K-POP ARTISTS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
- Stray Kids
- TOMORROW X TOGETHER
- J Hope of BTS
- Jungkook Of BTS
TOP STREAMED K-POP TRACKS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
- My Universe – BTS, Coldplay
- Left and Right (feat. Jung Kook of BTS) – Charlie Puth
- Dynamite – BTS
- MONEY – LISA of Blackpink
- Butter – BTS
- Stay Alive (Prod. SUGA of BTS) – Jung Kook of BTS
- Yet To Come – BTS
- Christmas Tree – V of BTS
- Run BTS – BTS
- Pink Venom – BLACKPINK