A look at Radio Monitor‘s Top 100 most played songs on radio from 1st Jan to 27th April this year gives us a glimpse into the South African music landscape; With 3 336 plays on 87 radio stations, House music golden boy Prince Kaybee’s Fetch Your Life is the biggest song on radio this year. Chris Brown’s music is still surprisingly popular in South Africa with his single Undecided earning him the second spot on the chart. Sjava’s Umama, Black Coffee’s Drive and Sam Smith’s Dancing With A Stranger neatly wrap the top 5 up.
Local music has come a long way since the days of playing second fiddle to international music, only three songs making it to the top 20 is testament to this. In addition to more localised content, the industry has also gone back to its roots, with House and Afro-pop leading the pack in terms of genres. An overwhelming majority of songs on the chart are either identify within the house music genre or influenced by the genre.
Hip-hop, which has seen immense growth in the last few years, has taken a serious knock in terms of airplay. In fact, the biggest local hip-hop stars AKA, Kwesta and Casper Nyovest, make the chart courtesy of heavy afro-pop and house influenced music. Besides Boity’s Bakae at 32, the only pure hip-hop song could be Nasty C’s SMA at 39.
Unsurprisingly, major labels still maintain a massive stronghold over radio playlists across the board. Backed by powerful corporate machinery, its no surprise that Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment make up 61% of all radio airplay over the period. Indie releases are at a healthy 33%, considering the sheer might it requires to independently secure consistent airplay on South African radio.
Local music makes up an impressive 69% of all radio play over the period. Significantly, the top songs in the country are predominantly local. Powered by an increased level of local signings and licensing by major labels, local music is finally in a position of power. SAMRO has historically had to pay royalties out to international markets, and this trend should keep royalties in the local market.
With the growth of streaming services, improved internet access and low barriers to entry on digital platforms, a common misconception is that artists don’t need radio any more. Radio might no longer break music, but it could still turn your song into a hit song. Radio goes where the internet doesn’t.
*Media Monitor is an agency that provides music airplay data.