Chris Koney’s column: The 2023 Grammys and future of Africa’s music industries


Considered by many as the world’s biggest night in music, it started with a bang, a snub, and a whole lot of shimmer. The big night brought out some of Africa’s biggest and brightest to lend their glamour to the red carpet.

The world belongs to Tems Baby! Draped in a custom Viviane Westwood evening gown, the Nigerian songstress has become the first female Nigerian artist to win a Grammy award as she scooped her Best Melodic Rap Performance win alongside American rappers Future and Drake on their hit collaboration ‘Wait For U’. The singer continues to break records as she adds the latest win to her abundant collection.

South African comedian Trevor Noah was tasked with keeping the night’s crowd entertained and in order during the ceremony at Los Angeles’s arena while Ghanaian singer-songwriter, Rocky Dawuni, brought along his beautiful daughter, Safiyah Dawuni, to celebrate his nominated single ‘Neva Bow Down’ featuring Jamaican Blvk H3ro. The two-time Grammy-nominated musician missed this year’s award for Best Global Music Performance.

British-born Ghanaian-Barbadian singer-songwriter Yola attended the award show for her work in the 2022 musical/drama hit Elvis. South African three-some Wouter Kellerman, Zakes Bantwini and Nomcebo Zikode showed up to snag this year’s Best Global Music Performance award for their hit single ‘Bayethe’. The collaborators’ win set the Internet ablaze as they beat Africa’s Giant, Nigerian artist Burna Boy.

Doja Cat is clearly having a ball with her fashion sense lately; this time, the ‘Woman’ songstress channelled her inner femme fatale in a black leather look by Versace. The singer was nominated for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Record of The Year, Best Music Video, Best Rap Performance, and Best Solo Performance.

Ugandan singer Eddy Kenzo waved the flag proudly this Sunday as he attended as the country’s first Grammy nominee. The crooner missed this year’s Best Global Music Performance award for his track ‘Gimme Love’ with American rapper Matt B, but we trust the Masaka-born star will be back with a vengeance.

After all the glitz and glamour, one will be tempted as ask, what is the future of Africa’s music industries?

The fourth track at this year’s NY:LON Connect conference focused on Africa, with a particular emphasis on the collaborations – between artists and businesses alike – that are going to take the continent’s music industries to the next level of growth.

The track began with Helena Kosinski, VP global at MRC Data, showing some of the research firm’s latest data on Africa as well as how African music is spreading globally.

Africa is only going to become more important, more central to world affairs, and more central to the music industry. Is it about the revenues? Not necessarily, and not just yet from a global perspective. However, is it about the growth – absolutely, and about the potential also.

Recorded music revenues in the Africa and Middle East region grew by 8.4 percent in 2020, according to the IFPI, with streaming revenues up by 36.4 percent “from a small base, but increasing rapidly”.

However, South Africa and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) accounted for 86.7 percent of the region’s revenues. “There’s certainly room for discovery and room for growth.”

Kosinski then presented an exclusive snapshot of data from a single week at the end of 2021 (Week 51 to be precise), when Nigerian artists accounted for 34.1 percent of the total on-demand streams tracked by MRC Data in Africa. US artists were close behind, with Ghanaian and Tanzanian artists also popular.

Kosinski also talked about the key African artists in terms of global streams, noting that they hail from across the continent: Mali (Aya Nakamura); Nigeria (Burna Boy, Wizkid and Ckay); Algeria (Soolking); South Africa (Master KG); Egypt (Amr Diab and Tamer Hosny); and more.

“It’s not just one or two markets that are really getting their music out there. We’re seeing lots of different countries represented,” she said while noting that African artists only accounted for 0.5 percent of on-demand global streams in 2021.

“While we’re hearing more and more about African artists around the world, still, as a percentage, there’s certainly room for discovery and room for growth.”

Much of that discovery is happening through collaborations and remixes. Wizkid, Tems and Justin Bieber, and Fireboy DML and Ed Sheeran being two recent prominent examples.

These collaborations are sparking communities of fans of Afro-Pop, Amapiano and other African genres across the world. MRC Data’s surveys show that in Brazil, 39 percent of music consumers listen to Afro-Pop or Afro-Beats, with countries like Italy (38 percent), Germany (34 percent), France (30 percent), Colombia (29 percent) and Mexico (27 percent) also scoring highly, although it’s only 6 percent in the US.

Kosinski warned that the demographics of these listeners differ between countries. For example, the gender split is roughly equal in Italy, skews much more female in Brazil, and much more male in the US. Age varies too.

“The Afro-Pop fan is not the same in every market around the world. You should not make that assumption,” said Kosinski, before summing up. “Is Afro-Pop the next global growth engine? Is it the new genre that’s going to be taking over the charts more and more? Quite possibly,” she said.

“Collaborations, of which many are happening,… certainly bring exposure. Big runaway hits always help in terms of focusing the global music listeners’ ear on a particular region, and ‘Jerusalema’ a couple of years ago was definitely one of those.”

In some countries, African music is already mainstream, she concluded. “It’s becoming a much more fundamental part of the sound of those countries. “In addition, remember the demographic profile of the populations of Africa. “I can’t overemphasise how young a population the continent has, and how much of an impact I think that’s going to have on music and artists. And how exciting it is the sounds that we have coming out of the continent.”

‘Africa will grow in terms of what it’s doing from a revenue perspective’


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