Jerusalema, the catchy South African hit recorded in the Zulu language, is a global sensation thanks to its talented creators, and also to the distribution efficiency of international streaming platforms, social media and other sharing-enabled digital media like TikTok.
Recorded by local producer Master KG and distributed internationally by Africori, a Warner Music Group subsidiary, the hymn-like track is at the forefront of an undeniably exhilarating new movement – the globalisation of local music genres.
The Jerusalema phenom – a case study
Recorded with the vocals of fast-emerging South African singer Nomcebo, Jerusalema was produced by Master KG’s own label Open Mic Productions and released end of 2019. It became a local hit via YouTube, was picked up by Africori, which licensed it to Elektra Warner France for international distribution in July 2020.
By September 2020, Shazam, the music-discovery app belonging to Apple, declared Jerusalema the world’s most searched-for song worldwide for several weeks. By December, the music video had 265 million-plus YouTube views, been streamed 100 million-plus times on Spotify, and hit the No1 spot in several European charts. The #Jerusalem hashtag boasts more than 657 million mentions on TikTok.
Master KG has seen his Spotify listeners soar to more than 8 million; he has been interviewed on BBC national radio stations in the UK.
In December 2020, he made history when he became the first-ever African act to collect France’s prestigious NRJ Award as Jerusalema clinched the International Song of the Year gong.
Phiona Okumu, who is Head of Music Sub-Saharan Africa at Spotify, observed the song’s impact as an anthem for these challenging pandemic times:
“Somehow, within this Covid crisis, I feel it was connecting with people’s need to feel good, optimistic and upbeat. That is where it really took off and that is what I mean when I say we are going to move away from genres and really focus on how the music moves you.”
Download the “The Globalisation of Local Genres – a Digital-Age Phenomenon” report to learn more about the globalisation of local music and discover that, in the 21st century, a global hit can truly come from anywhere >>>