South Africa is one of the top markets for K-pop in Africa



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  • South Africa is the top market for K-pop in Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • There has been a 93% year-on-year increase in K-pop streams in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022
  • The most popular K-pop artist is BTS, their Coldplay collaboration song My Universe being the most streamed K-pop song on Spotify.

According to a press release by Spotify, South Africa is the top market for K-pop in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). South Africa’s number one position is followed by Kenya and Nigeria, respectively, states the press release.

K-pop, or Korean pop, can feature a range of musical styles, including “Pop, Hip Hop, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Reggae, Disco, and even traditional and folk Korean musical stylings”, states the press release. K-pop is usually performed by Korean artists known as idols.

K-pop keeps growing

The popularity of K-pop has seen significant growth in SSA. “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,” says Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s head of music for Sub-Saharan Africa, in the press release.

Music markets like Nigeria have seen a 267% increase in K-pop streams, with Ghana seeing a 236% increase and Kenya with a 140% increase, says the press release.

The top three most streamed K-pop artists are BTS at the number one spot, followed by Stray Kids and BLACKPINK. The top three most streamed K-pop songs were Coldplay and BTS’ My Universe, followed by Left and Right by Charlie Puth, which features Jungkook from BTS and then Dynamite by BTS.

The reason behind K-pop’s meteoric rise

The popularisation of K-pop is congruent with the rise in popularity of South Korean culture, which has been propagated through South Korean television shows, referred to as K-dramas, according to the press statement. The South Korean series Squid Game has raked up 1.65 billion hours of streaming alone on Netflix, according to CNET. The viral hit Gangnam Style by Korean artist Psy may even be a contributing factor to the popularity as well, says the press release.

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National Geographic has attributed K-pop’s global rise to the pandemic, which also turned the world’s attention to East-Asian countries, states the press release. Another factor that may also be considered is increased internet access, especially with a youthful and online population, according to the press release. The press statement says that results from a survey that polled 400 000 global BTS listeners found that 50% of BTS fans are under 18 and 42% are between the ages of 18-29, indicating a youthful fanbase.

“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,” according to Okumu. “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,” she added.