FRUKT Global Scenes #1 - The rising Arabic new music scene
Recently one of the most noted global music titles Pitchfork ran an article asking whether Arabic pop artists would be the next breakout global scene. It’s a question FRUKT has also discussed in recent years across our music reports and reviews, having worked with exciting new acts across a region whose music industry is growing as new companies emerge and investment arrives from global major labels.
According to IFPI's annual Global Music Report, which tracks sales around the world, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region saw a 35 per cent growth in music revenues in 2021, a larger increase than any other area. In 2022, this went up a further 24%. It’s clear the scene is soaring locally, and it’s likely the fruits of this will be an increased number of artists also exporting to a global audience discovering them online.
FRUKT has worked with a selection of talented emerging artists in Morocco, Tunisia, and the Middle East in recent years, including Moroccan rap artist Ouenza who has soared in popularity in recent months and now has millions of streams and over 1m social followers. Kouz1 is another fast-rising artist with over 110m Spotify plays, making him one of the biggest acts in the country. There are undoubtedly hugely talented artists emerging and the next stage is for them to burst out of their homelands and win over global audiences like J Balvin, BTS, and Wizkid.
The three major breakout global music scenes of the last decade have been Kpop, Afropop, and Latin Pop (with each scene encompassing splinter genres such as reggaeton) and the global streaming charts are now packed with acts from these areas. But it wasn’t always like this. Pre-streaming it was rare for clusters of overseas artists from the same region to regularly break into dominant and traditionally closed-off global music markets such as the US and UK, but Spotify and TikTok have helped create a thrilling magpie music scene which blends the musical heritage many Gen Z artists’ grew up with global pop scenes like rap and house music.
Artists to watch to break through include Elyanna, whose main markets are evenly split between the major music markets like the US and Germany, and Arab nations including Morocco and Egypt. She recently played the first fully Arabic set at Coachella and drew a huge crowd. At The Great Escape Festival in Brighton in May, FRUKT also caught Lana Lubany live, a London-based artist of Palestinian heritage who has over 600k monthly Spotify listeners and 11.5m Likes on TikTok. Her new EP ‘HOLY LAND’ is about her personal journey. “I wanted music to be fun again, to mean something to me, and so I decided every song I wrote from that moment on would be for ‘THE HOLY LAND’. Growing up here made me who I am… When I moved to London, I found myself missing my comfort zone, which I had to get out of in order to follow my dream, and suddenly my identity finally made sense to me…”
The Arab music industry's growth will continue to be bolstered by increasing investment - Universal and Warners are just two of the global music firms that have set-up bases in Morocco in recent years, and IFPI has recently established a MENA chart, which uses streaming data from 13 markets across the area. As the world becomes more interconnected, Arab pop music is going to boom as a testament to the rich diversity of our global community.