African Music in The Global Market

In recent years, with worldwide hits like Master KGs Jerusalema and Essence by Nigerian singer Wizkid, the rhythm of Africa has been making a massive impact globally.

For the longest time, African music was exiled to the category called “World Music” – which is any music outside Europe, Great Britain, and North America. Slowly over the years, European, South American, and Asian music has been welcomed into non-world music categories and ultimately taken seriously. It was only inevitable that African music would be the next untapped music gold mine for the music industry to invest in as the next frontier.

Musically speaking, Africa is a landscape that is so culturally rich, vibrant, and dynamic. However, it is a continent that lacks the resources and infrastructure to meet the rest of the world at their level in a business sense. There is great potential for African music to be exported on a scale larger than ever before, however, Africa needs a tailored approach and there is more work to be done to support the local African industry.


The African impact slowly started making its footprint on the world with Nigerian musical exports and the introduction of Afrobeats. Afrobeats has encouraged a whole generation of musicians from Nigeria, across the continent, and maybe even globally.

One of the factors contributing to this is the Nigerian migration and diaspora which is vast and expansive. Nigerians are spread out throughout the world. Over and above this, the Nigerian community is a tight-knit one, no matter where they are in the world. They are also generally quite successful while strongly maintaining their attachment to their culture. As a community, they continuously prioritise the consumption of their culture and this includes watching Nollywood movies and listening to or producing their music. This has influenced the massive export of their music to all these places. These three ingredients make for the perfect recipe for a global music takeover.

International Collaborations

Afrobeats is the major and original music genre exported from Nigeria during the diaspora discussed above. The impact of Afrobeat’s collaborations with global styles has even further cemented the genre and Africa in the West with international superstars joining forces with some of Africa’s most exciting artists including Major Lazer and Mr. Eazi, Wizkid and Beyoncé, and Burna Boy and Chris Martin.

Another major artist to invest in the potential of the African market is an English singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran. Since the South African tour of his album Divide, he has been mixing things up music-wise. Recently he has released dance tracks like Bad Habits which are already different from his usual love songs. With this evolution of his sound, the artist has embarked on his first-ever afrobeat track as he hopped onto the remix of Nigerian superstar Fireboy DML’s hit single Peru. While Sheeran has been venturing into other genres of music afrobeats is not something anyone would have expected from Sheeran next as it is an even further step away from his normal sound.

Peru has also charted well in parts of Europe, making it a little more understandable as to why Sheeran would jump on a track like this. Taking risks seems to be where the Perfect hitmaker is at. He is banking on Africa and his bets are paying off.

In the song, Sheeran even sings a couple of lines in Yoruba, a language predominantly used by millions of people across West Africa, especially in southwestern Nigeria.

The success of the Peru remix is incredible with it only being kept off the top of the UK Official Singles Chart by We Don’t Talk About Bruno, from the Disney movie Encanto. This is a massive achievement for the success of African music.

The Rise of Amapiano and its forthcoming success

A distinct sound that is currently vibing around the world is the deep house, log-drum-driven basslines, and soulful piano melodies of “Amapiano.” While Amapiano dance challenges are currently sweeping TikTok, the streets of South Africa have been thrumming with its sound for years

Amapiano is more than a genre of music, it is said to be a lifestyle. It influences style and dance and is making an impact on South Africa’s music industry. Believed to have started in 2012, this underground trend exploded in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic and has been on the rise ever since.

Even during the pandemic, amapiano, bright, jazzy dance music culled from local house flavors and global R&B has persisted as the country’s top genre, according to prominent South African artists and DJs.

It is the first time a local genre of music is dominating the radio waves more than international songs. While amapiano is huge in South Africa, it’s also transcended borders. On TikTok, the #amapiano hashtag stands at more than 570 million views. Shares of global streams on the AmaPianoGrooves playlist on Spotify have increased 116 percent globally over the past year; the increase in the U.S. is 75 percent.

The great thing about Amapiano, for the artists that create it is that it has changed the way the record business works. Amapiano artists no longer need all the big companies and overheads. Social media is its main marketing resource.

The future of Amapiano is uncertain. We can’t tell for sure whether or not Amapiano is here to stay or whether it will evolve into another new sound, one thing is certain — the genre’s impact on the South African music industry.

While Afrobeats enthusiasts in the US are familiar with amapiano, Covid-19 lockdowns likely impeded its spread internationally. Amapiano described as being a lifestyle, is said to be enjoyed like any musical art form, but a big part of it is to be experienced on the dance floor.

A promising sign of amapiano’s potential for global impact is its popularity across Africa, particularly in Nigeria, which is emerging as the world’s fastest-growing entertainment and media market.

The Black Coffee Impact

Over the years, we have seen Black Coffee rise from strength to strength in the Global Music market. The superstar DJ – who has performed to hundreds of thousands of people at America’s prestigious Coachella music festival, in Ibiza, and clubs around the world, also collaborations with global hitmakers including David Guetta, Drake, and Pharrell Williams. has certainly become a powerful pillar in music for Africa to be proud of.

Now, the musician, whose real name is Nkosinathi Maphumulo, is celebrating a Grammy award win for Best Dance/Electronic Album for his seventh studio record. This is a long-held dream for him. He is the first African to win in this category. Previously, African Grammy award winners have achieved their awards in the World Music category.

It is no secret that Black Coffee’s purpose and the reason is to fly the flag of South Africa – his home country. He wants to use his music, which he describes as “home-brewed but future-focused”, to empower and inspire more African musicians to get recognition on a global stage. Black Coffee hopes his win will help shine a light on African musical talent. “It’s not about music alone but anything that they want to do. The Grammy is a symbol that it is possible to get here.”

He recognises the fact that more artists from the continent are starting to break through to a more mainstream audience. He is hoping for the growth of this to increase over time.

His success comes at a time when the influence of South African and African music is already growing around the world with the likes of Amapiano and Afrobeats.

Major Labels investment in Africa

Over and above the success of Black Coffee, Amapiano, and Afrobeats, the major international labels are seeing the investment value in the African music market and are expanding their footprints in Africa. This includes a range of investments in business, talent, and new headquarters. In 2021 the creation of Def Jam Africa was created by Universal Music Group (UMG). Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Lagos, Nigeria, the label is expected to target artists working in hip-hop, Afrobeats, and trap from across the continent.

Another major label, Warner Music Group also confirmed the news of investment in Africori. African is a distribution, rights management, and artist development company, which gives them access to a roster of 6,500 African artists and 700 labels.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing South Africa and Content Connect Africa (CCA) have also entered into a new strategic partnership and Downtown Music Holdings bought Sheer Music Publishing, the continent’s largest independent music publisher.

These major moves toward the African music industry, by major labels, are more proof of the major predicted value sitting in the African music scene.

With the successful rise of Afrobeats, and the continued rise of Amapiano, paired with Black Coffee’s Grammy win and the major label investment and acquisitions taking place in Africa,

it is safe to say that this is only the beginning of a bright future for African artists and music. There is work needed to be done in terms of infrastructure development to ensure artists have the support they need and are paid for their art. Africa is rich with culture and diversity so expect to be blown away by the music set to come out of this rich and dynamic landscape.

Muziki Africa at FAME Week Africa

The launch of FAME Week Africa and its dedicated music show, Muziki Africa aims to connect Africa to the world through music. From 24 to 26 August in Cape Town, this business-to-business marketplace is a first for Africa, focussing on the core music business (labels, publishers, rights societies and more), the technology sector (start-ups, developers, and big tech companies), and brands and the agencies that represent them (for music and brand campaigns). It also is a platform for showcasing new African artists, musical trends and music-related products and services. This is another example of how African music is become part of the main stage.

Watch this space… it’s about to get interesting.

Read more FAME music here

FAME Week Africa

FAME Week Africa

FWA Connect bringing the Film, Arts, Media and Entertainment sector together by providing creative industry professionals on the African continent with news, trends and in-depth articles.

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