Rema Spotify

The milestones keep tumbling for Afrobeats in 2023, with the latest focusing on Nigerian star Rema’s hit ‘Calm Down’.

It has just joined Spotify’s ‘Billions Club’ thanks to more than 1bn streams of the version of the track featuring Selena Gomez. In fact, with 477m additional streams of the original solo version, the track reached 10 digits some time ago.

Still, it’s a big moment. “This is the first African artist-led track to join the Billions Club on Spotify,” said Spotify’s artiste and label partnerships manager for West Africa Victor Okpala, according to news site Vanguard.

The careful wording is because Drake and Wizkid’s ‘One Dance’ was actually the first ever track to reach 1bn Spotify streams, back in 2016, but Wizkid was a featured artist. In the case of ‘Calm Down’ the roles are reversed: the African artist was the lead, and the North American star the feature.

“It’s a blessing. It’s not just a big win for me, my team and my family; it’s also a big one for the culture,” said Rema in a statement this weekend. ‘Calm Down’ was originally released in February 2022, with the remix featuring Selena Gomez following in August 2022.

The track played its part in Afrobeats’ wider success on Spotify that year, with the genre generating 13.5bn streams on the service in 2022. Spotify has also said that Nigerian artists generated more than 11bn naira (around $14.2m) of payouts from its service in 2022, up 74% year-on-year.

Rema is also a key ingredient in the success of Afrobeats label Mavin, accounting for more than 3bn of the company’s 6bn streams globally – a milestone that it announced in August to celebrate its 11th birthday.

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