One-hit Wonders And The Missing Link Between Music and Entrepreneurship

Nnamdi O. Madichie
4 min readSep 12, 2021


I would like to believe that millions of people have heard about, danced to, streamed or written about “Gangnam Style” by Park Jae Sung aka Psy (2012) and “Jerusalema” by Master KG (2020). These one-hit wonders originating in South Korea and South Africa respectively have some lessons.

First things first. Here’s where it all started for me.

In an article I published about a decade ago, “Marketing Senegal through hip‐hop – a discourse analysis of Akon’s music and lyrics,” I highlighted hip‐hop’s contribution to the entrepreneurship and place marketing literature. My exploration was from the lens of an individual artist, Akon, whose music and lyrics — a “hybrid of silky, West African‐styled vocals mixed with North America’s East Coast and Southern beats” — arguably provided fresh insights for place marketers.

The article relied on a “discourse analysis” of the lyrics from two non‐chart songs “Senegal” and “Mama Africa” as a conceptual base for ‘a better understanding of the fusion of music and entrepreneurship with place marketing.’

I posited that, “through music, Akon has bridged socio‐cultural (ethnic cuisine, immigration and social exclusion, faith or spirituality) and economic attributes (notably remittances) — with implications for entrepreneurship and place marketing.”

I also called for future research to “consider how to leverage the potential of celebrity endorsement or partnerships in place marketing strategies.” Little did I know I would be talking about accidents a decade later, I made the following statement:

It was by no accident that Akon was recruited by PepsiCo for the recently concluded 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa through a charity single – Oh Africa!

In my claim to originality, I argued that “the value lies in extrapolating a well‐known, but little discussed, subject in academia, i.e. the role of hip‐hop music in the place marketing discourse.”

Not long after that publication another one-hit wonder appears on the scene in 2012— Oppan Gangnam Style!

Fast forward to 2021

Since the “Gangnam Style” global craze, which started in 2012, I have been exploring the link between music (hip-hop, pop, country etc.) and Entrepreneurship.

I got that opportunity only recently in my article “Oppan Gangnam style! A series of accidents – place branding, entrepreneurship and pop culture”, I sought to highlight a series of accidents epitomized by the success of a music artist, bringing three streams of literature together – pop culture, entrepreneurship and place branding.

Using an illustrative case of a 2012 YouTube hit song, Oppan Gangnam Style, by Korean artist Park Jae-Sang, the artist’s attempt to lampoon the extravagant lifestyle of Gangnam District’s residents accidentally puts them on the global map. The narrative is built around the storytelling approach.

The study highlights the intersections of pop culture creativity and entrepreneurship (albeit accidental) with implications for place branding.

The study is overtly documentary analysis-based as is my usual research approach.

In a broad sense, that study was a pioneering effort in the field of entrepreneurship and its interconnections with other disciplines – marketing (place and entrepreneurship) and pop culture.

So where do we go from here?

Most music artists — including the likes of Psy and Master KG — have often, eventually, turned producers and even label owners, sometimes even collaborating with their proteges in order to remain relevant. Is this really sustainable? How about ‘living up’ to or ‘harnessing’ what the entrepreneurship literature says about ‘opportunity recognition?

I submit that “one-hit wonders” can become lifelong game changers with purposive entrepreneurial mindsets built in. Let’s borrow a leaf from Akon’s entrepreneurial exploits in his homeland of Senegal.

True, he was never a one-hit wonder, but his uncelebrated Senegal and Mama Africa not to mention the recent Akonda album were instrumental to his Akon City project.

Further Reading

Al-Yahyaee, K. H., Mensi, W., Ko, H. U., Caporin, M., & Kang, S. H. (2020). Is the Korean housing market following Gangnam style? Empirical Economics, 1-32.

Khoo, G. C. (2014). “We keep it local”–Malaysianising “Gangnam Style”: a question of place and identity. In K-pop-The International Rise of the Korean Music Industry (pp. 158-175). Routledge.

Lee, C. S., & Kuwahara, Y. (2014). “Gangnam Style” as Format: When a Localized Korean Song Meets a Global Audience. In The Korean Wave (pp. 101-116). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Lee, K. M., Barrett, K. C., Kim, Y., Lim, Y., & Lee, K. (2015). Dance and music in “Gangnam Style”: how dance observation affects meter perception. Plos One, 10(8), e0134725.

Lie, J. (2014). Why Didn’t “Gangnam Style” Go Viral in Japan?: Gender Divide and Subcultural Heterogeneity in Contemporary Japan. Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review, 3(1), 6-31.

Madichie, N.O. (2021), Oppan Gangnam style! A series of accidents – place branding, entrepreneurship and pop culture, Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 103-121.

Madichie, N.O. (2011), Marketing Senegal through hip‐hop – a discourse analysis of Akon’s music and lyrics, Journal of Place Management and Development, Vol. 4 No. 2, pp. 169-197.



Nnamdi O. Madichie

Nnamdi O. Madichie, PhD. Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM); Research Fellow Bloomsbury Institute London .