African Music: Global yet?

African music has reached a new level of international standing. Listen closely, world, African sound is seeping throughout the globe.

With music consumption as a daily ritual for most, the international music sales increased by 3.2% in 2015, and 43% of digital revenue accounts for income was made from streaming, as noted in the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI)’s 2016 report.

With the mass usage of smartphones present in South Africa, there is a greater platform for South African music – and, by extension, African music as a whole – to reach a global audience. As noted in a Cable News Network (CNN) article on 5 May 2016, the increase in smartphone  usage went from 2% in 2010 to 11% in 2011 in Africa.

African music influences has increasingly been cropping up in world-renowned musicians’ beats. Nigerian Afrobeats artist Mr Eazi told CNN, “Afrobeat is now urbanized, the internet has made everything well-packaged.” With this packaging being accessible with a click of a button, any artists around the world can utilize African music samples, thus spreading African influences easily. “Now you see A-listers all around the world, like Drake and Nas, sampling African music; I’ve even heard Japanese music with African drums. It’s invading pop culture and it’s a marvelous time for African music,” says Mr Eazi.

Sketchy Bongo. Photo source: @SketchyBongo on Twitter.

Zooming in to a South African context particularly, Yuvir Pillay, more popularly known as Sketchy Bongo, has landed an international record deal. The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) announced, “The deal means that Pillay’s single “Let You Know”, featuring vocalist Shekhinah, will be the first of his singles distributed and released worldwide.” With Pillay’s home-grown talent breaking borders, it stands as more proof that African music is reaching a more solid footing in international markets. “I’m really happy to be signed to Ultra-music and Sony with two of the biggest dance labels and pop labels in the world. I’ve been wanting something like this for a very long time so we [the ‘wolfpack’, as they’re known, who are a group of artists who promote local talent] worked hard, I’m just happy to be getting South African music out there to the world,” says Pillay.

With this optimism for South African music, it is estimated that the South African Entertainment and Media Industry will generate R175.4 billion ($122 billion) in revenue next year. Politifact noted that total exports from Africa’s entertainment sector currently bring in roughly $480 million a year.

“We have been trying to push South African music to the world and its finally great people are actually getting noticed for this now,” says Pillay.

With Afrobeat, Sketchy Bongo and positive predictions about African music becoming global, South African markets have potential to reach the same world stages as the large American music market.



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