K-pop invades Africa – Gadget
The dominance of Western music in global listening trends is over – for now. South
Korean pop music, known as K-pop, now competes head-to-head with American pop, rock, rhythm and blues, and the like.
Fueled in part by the popularization of South Korean culture through TV dramas, boosted by the virality of South Korean artist Psy’s smash hit Gangnam Style, K-pop is on a meteoric rise. This year, K-pop boy group BTS made history by becoming the first Korean act to be nominated for the 5th time, in as many consecutive years, at the Grammy Awards.
While Africa made its musical presence known to the world, Korean culture and music gradually permeated the continent.
“There was a 93% year-over-year increase in K-pop streams in sub-Saharan Africa in 2022, thanks to more than 3-billion hours of streaming,” said Spotify CEO Phiona Okumu of music for Africa south of the Sahara.” It’s clear from this data that K-pop is not just a passing phase, but has a dedicated and growing African fandom.”
Some of the key markets contributing to this increase are Nigeria, where there was a 267% increase in K-pop streams, Ghana with 236%, and Kenya with a 140% increase.
Some, like National Geographic, attribute the global rise of K-pop to the pandemic, which inadvertently focused the world’s attention on this East Asian cultural powerhouse. Around the world, millions have used their time watching K-dramas like Squid Game and at the same time discovering various facets of Korean culture.
While this is equally true for the African continent, other factors such as increased internet access may also have a hand to play. With a population that is young and online – it makes sense that Africa is a strong emerging market for K-pop, which enjoys mass youth appeal. A recent survey of 400,000 BTS fans around the world found that around 50% of their fans are under the age of 18, with a further 42% between the ages of 18-29. Spotify’s Wrapped data for Africa paints a similar picture – with a combined 88% of K-pop music streams coming from people under the age of 29.
“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,” says Okumu. “Streaming has become instrumental in not only enabling the discovery of African music abroad, but also exposing African listeners to new and unexpected sounds.”
Although it is called Korean pop music, K-pop spans a large number of musical genres such as Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Disco, and even traditional and folk Korean musical stylings. K-pop is not really a music genre, but simply music from Korean artists.
African inspiration is increasingly emerging in K-pop.
Holding the top spot for K-pop artists streamed in sub-Saharan Africa and dominating the list of most streamed tracks, BTS covers nearly every genre of music in their discography – including South African-grown Gqom. The band’s hit IDOL features Gqom-style beats as the video tips its hat to the continent in the band’s dance moves and their African print suits. Girl group BS (or Black Swan) made history in 2020 when they introduced the first African K-Pop idol, the Senegalese model Fatou Samba.
K-pop idols are also known for their extremely tight and extravagant choreography, high-value stage and music video productions, and the signature style and “concept” of each K-pop group. Not to mention the polished good looks and fashion of the artists.
“K-pop demonstrated its staying power in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) this year with millions of streams in countries such as South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – respectively the top three for K-pop consumption on the continent. Other countries that made it into the top 10 K-pop markets in SSA include Mauritius, Ghana, Uganda, Namibia, Tanzania, Zambia and Botswana.
“K-Pop stars have also increasingly targeted global audiences through collaborations with acts from the West. In Africa it seems to have real appeal – the number one streamed K-Pop track is My Universea collaboration between BTS and Coldplay, with second place taken by Left and Right, another collaboration between Charlie Puth and Jung Kook (of BTS fame).
|TOP 10 MARKETS FOR K-POP IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA||TOP STREAMS K-POP ARTISTS IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA||TOP STREAMS K-POP SNAPS IN SUB-SAHARA AFRICA|
|1. South Africa||1. BTS||1. My Universe – BTS, Coldplay|
|2. Kenya||2. Stray Kids||2. Left and Right (feat. Jung Kook of BTS) – Charlie Puth|
|3. Nigeria||3. BLACK PINK||3. dynamite – BTS|
|4. Mauritius||4. TOMORROW X TOGETHER||4. MONEY – LISA|
|5. Ghana||5. TWICE||5. Butter – BTS|
|6. Uganda||6. j-hope||6. Stay Alive (Prod. SUGA of BTS) – Jung Kook|
|7. Namibia||7. INHIBITOR||7. More to come – BTS|
|8. Tanzania||8. Jung Kook||8. christmas tree – Q|
|9. Zambia||9. ATEEZ||9. Start BTS – BTS|
|10. Botswana||10. SEVENTEEN||10. Pink Venom – BLACK PINK|