Spotify Afrobeats

The global growth of Afrobeats music continues, and Spotify is intent on aligning itself firmly with the trend. It has launched a website called Afrobeats: Journey of a Billion Streams, but the title is very much a misnomer.

In fact, the site’s stats on the genre’s growth over the years reveals that in 2017, Afrobeats tracks were doing 2bn annual streams on Spotify, but that in 2022 this figure grew to 13.5bn streams, fuelled by its popularity well beyond Africa in cities from London and Paris to Rotterdam and Toronto.

Spotify’s new site also notes that 35% of Afrobeats streams on its service come from 18-24 year-olds, and offers a list of the most-streamed tracks of all-time, headed by Rema’s ‘Calm Down (with Selena Gomez’). It has 823.9m streams, although the non-Selena version has an additional 422.3m.

More growth in 2023 is already assured. “In 2023 alone, the genre has been played for more than 223 million hours, with streams exceeding 7.1 billion on Spotify,” said Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Spotify’s MD for sub-Saharan Africa, in the blog post announcing the new website.

As the stats show, Afrobeats’ international growth has been a longer-term trend rather than a sudden surge. It’s a trend that isn’t owned by a single platform, either. YouTube has been very important for Afrobeats artists breaking internationally, for example. In recent years Apple Music has also thrown its curatorial weight behind the scene.

The exciting thing about all this, from a continental perspective, is that Afrobeats has opened an international path for other African genres and scenes to follow. South Africa’s Amapiano, for example, whose growth on Spotify playlists was tracked in a blog post by Chartmetric this week – one of a three-part series with Shoobs and Musiio focusing on the genre.

“It’s just the diversity of the genres on the continent, and the opportunities that exist beyond Afrobeats in my opinion,” is how Warner Music Group’s Temi Adeniji described the scenario during the IFPI’s Global Music Report launch earlier this year, citing Amapiano as well as Bongo Flava from east Africa as examples.

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