African music is witnessing explosive growth on YouTube, in a marked departure from the continent’s past struggle to gain a foothold in the global scene.
by Seth Onyango, Bird Story Agency
More African hits are reverberating far beyond the continent’s borders, amplified by the global music reach on YouTube and other streaming services. Growing smartphone adoption and affordable and fast internet in Africa also drive the local consumption of music on YouTube. From the catchy Afrobeats and soulful sounds of Afro-soul to the energetic rhythms of Afropop and the traditional melodies of African folk, the diversity of African music is captivating listeners worldwide.
To most African musicians, YouTube has revolutionised how music is consumed, providing a platform for independent, undiscovered African artists to reach a global audience and gain success without the need for major record labels. As more people turn to YouTube for entertainment and to watch virtual concerts, subscriber traffic has increased steadily. African music is quickly rising among the most-viewed and most streamed. Here are some of the most viewed songs by African artists on YouTube at the time of writing.
Jerusalema by Master KG –– 539 million views
Jerusalema is breaking records as the most viewed African music video on YouTube, with an impressive 539 million views. The track, released in November 2019, received a music video in December.
Magic in the Air by Magic System ft Choki –– 405 million views
Magic in the Air is a mesmerising hit single released in 2014. With over 400 million views, it’s not just the most-viewed West African music video on YouTube, it’s also the second-most-viewed African. This infectious track is sure to get you moving and singing along.
Love Nwantiti Rmx. by CKay –– 346 million views
Love Nwantiti is a standout track from Ckay’s 8-track EP, CKay the First. Its addictive rhythms and melodies earned it a remix with Afro-pop star, Joeboy, and Ghanaian singer, Kuami Eugene, released in 2020. The revamped version became a global sensation thanks to its viral success on TikTok.
Calm Down by Rema –– 318 million views
Rema’s Calm Down has cemented its place as one of the highest-viewed Afrobeats music videos on YouTube, surpassing the impressive 300 million views mark. This hit single has continued to soar to new heights, further solidifying Rema’s status as a world-class artist. He recently teamed up with international pop sensation Selena Gomez on a remix of the club banger, which already has 210 million views.
On the Low by Burna Boy –– 310 million views
On the Low
Baby’s on Fire by Die Antwoord –– 266 million views
Baby’s on Fire has captivated audiences worldwide, accumulating over 266 million views on YouTube and solidifying its place as the second most-watched South African music video on Youtube after Jerusalema.
Fall by Davido –– 254 million views
Fall has achieved tremendous success with over 200 million views on YouTube and Gold certification in the United States and Canada. The song’s popularity has helped to elevate the Nigerian singer’s international profile and boost even more sales.
Ye by Burna Boy –– 219 million views
Nigerian singer, Burna Boy, unleashed a fiery and infectious anthem with Ye, a standout track from his critically acclaimed third studio album, Outside. Released on August 6th, 2018, Ye quickly rose to the top of the Nigerian charts and has become one of the most-watched African songs on YouTube. Its dynamic blend of Afrobeat and hip hop, paired with Burna Boy’s commanding vocals and catchy hooks, make it a must-listen for fans of contemporary African music.
Joro by Wizkid –– 218 million views
Wizkid has achieved massive success on YouTube with his hit song, Joro, which has garnered over 200 million views and counting.
Way Maker by Sinach –– 217 million views
The hit gospel song, Way Maker, has made a huge impact on YouTube, racking up over 200 million views and securing its place as the most-watched African female video of all time. With its uplifting message and powerful vocals, it’s no surprise Way Maker has resonated with audiences across the globe.
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