Music

Trends driving 2022 music consumption

music

Gengetone artist Trio Mio performing on stage during the NYE Glow Festival held at the Ngong Racecourse Grounds on January 1, 2022. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NMG

Summary

  • By the beginning of 2021, it was already clear that gengetone, as the new voice of urban youth in Kenya, was going to scale new height.
  • But it is Hip Hop that was the dominant genre among music fans in Kenya, according to Spotify’s 2021 “Wrapped” which is the annual round-up of the top artists, albums, songs and playlists of the year.

Is it possible to have an inkling of the direction the music industry will take in 2022 against a backdrop of dynamic factors when trends are shaped by viral memes on video-sharing applications and the influence of a performer is weighed against their hashtags and ability to engage fans in online dance challenges?

There are a few clear deductions that can be made from the trends in the industry in the last year. The growth of digital streaming services for accessing music has expanded phenomenally, as witnessed with the arrival of the global giant Spotify, among other players, in Kenya last year.

By the beginning of 2021, it was already clear that gengetone, as the new voice of urban youth in Kenya, was going to scale new heights, but few would have predicted the extraordinary success of a genre that generated debate for its raw and sometimes lewd content.

Gengetone broke into the mainstream complete with its own playlist on Spotify and driven by the popularity of a whole new generation of stars, notably teenager Trio Mio and viral hits like “Shamra Shamra”, “Cheza Kama Wewe”, “Sipangwigwi” the latter which found its way into political campaign lexicon

But it is Hip Hop that was the dominant genre among music fans in Kenya, according to Spotify’s 2021 “Wrapped” which is the annual round-up of the top artists, albums, songs and playlists of the year. Six out of the top 10 most streamed artists in Kenya in 2021 were all rappers.

Canadian rapper Drake was the most streamed artist in Kenya, right ahead of Sauti Sol, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, and Nigerian Afrobeats star Burna Boy. It was not just American hip hop artists but also homegrown talent like Wakadinali who were in the Top 10 of the most streamed Kenyan artists in 2021.

The most streamed song was “Niko Sawa” by one of the revelations of 2021, Nviiri The Storyteller, a signee of Sol Generation label founded by Sauti Sol.

It is significant that by the end of the year, the individual members of Sauti Sol were dominating the charts with their solo projects leading up to the group’s next project in mid-2022.

With the impact of Covid-19 restrictions on the conventional business model for the recording industry, social media platforms have gained huge influence as the chief marketing tool for the business, setting trends and shaping tastes.

Record labels also re-engineered their formats to start hunting for the next generation of stars via songs that were already resonating with millions of users on video-sharing apps.

Universal Music, a world leader in music entertainment, signed a collaborative deal with TikTok to discover new talent and re-introduce legacy acts to a younger audience.

Where once YouTube was the channel of choice, now millennials turn to TikTok which drove consumer tastes thanks to its short format videos and a reputation as an incubator for emerging, often very experimental artists.

Just witness the explosion of gengetone as the signature Kenyan urban music genre in 2021 or American rapper Lil Nas X who was one of the early success stories on TikTok with a mashup of country and HipHop.

It’s not just new music that leveraged on the popularity of TikTok but the legacy catalogue from the different eras of pop music: the swinging 60s or the disco 70s or the dance-pop of the 80s found favour with a whole new generation thanks to the video-sharing app.

Classics by Paul Simon and Whitney Houston got back in the charts, either through cover versions of remodelled versions of the older hits as happened with Houston’s “How Will I Know”

Research shows that music fans are more likely to search for songs on streaming services after watching their clips on TikTok. Therefore, contemporary artists invest a great deal in gaining traction on such apps with an eye on the projected revenue via streaming data.

Video apps influence

There is little doubt that the influence of video-sharing apps like TikTok and its competitor Triller, will continue to drive music consumption around the world in 2022.

The challenge for artists and content creators, in general, will be in breaking the barriers and attracting audiences with bolder creativity and innovation that can last beyond the shelf-life of a trend.

The regimented industry players like radio and record labels face the prospect of constantly playing catch up in an environment when artists reach directly to the market and fans enjoy the freedom to create their own content in a format that appeals to their tastes.