The global rise of Afrobeats is a trend we’ve been following closely for a number of years.
One of the latest stories highlighting Afrobeats’ global growth arrived last week with the news that Nigerian superstar Rema has joined the ‘Billions Club’ on Spotify with his hit Calm Down Remix (Mavin / Jonzing World/ Virgin Music) featuring Selena Gomez (Interscope).
The original version has over 480 million streams on the platform.
According to Spotify, this achievement marked the first time an African artist–led track has racked up a billion streams on the service.
At the time of writing, the track has reached over 1.015 billion streams on the platform.
Rema was originally discovered on Instagram by D’Prince and developed by Nigeria-based Mavin Records and founder Don Jazzy, who told MBW during an interview back in 2021 that Rema is “one of the young artists of his generation”.
Rema had under 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify at the time. Fast-forward two years, and Don Jazzy’s ambition of taking “Afrobeats to the world” is clearly being realized.
Today, the artist has over 31 million monthly listeners on Spotify, and in addition to joining the platform’s billions club with Calm Down featuring Selena Gomez, the duo won the first-ever Afrobeats award at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards last week.
The track peaked at No.3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June, the highest-ever charting Afrobeats artist In Billboard Hot 100 history, and has also been certified 3x Platinum in the US.
Spotify reports that the highest number of streams of Calm Down came from the US, India, Mexico, Brazil, and the UK, which, it added is “proof that the song truly transcends borders”.
The track has also been added to more than a million Spotify playlists.
Speaking with MBW following Rema’s streaming milestone, Mavin Records’ founder Don Jazzy argues that Rema “has the potential to be one of the biggest artists in the world” and that there is “no ceiling for what he can go on to achieve”.
He adds: “At such a young age, he is already one of Afrobeats’ most prominent torchbearers.”
“It’s not just a big win for me, my team, and family; it’s also a big one for the culture.”
Commenting on the billion stream milestone in a press statement issued by Spotify last week, Rema said: “It’s a blessing. It’s not just a big win for me, my team, and family; it’s also a big one for the culture.”
He added: “I feel really happy, and I’m really proud of the fans as well for going back to the song and putting people onto the song. Shout-out to the DJs and everyone who made this possible.”
“We are aiming big.”
Don Jazzy, Mavin Records
Commenting on the news of Rema’s Calm Down surpassing 1 billion Spotify streams, Victor Okpala, Spotify’s Artist and Label Partnerships Manager for West Africa, added: “This milestone is absolutely remarkable for Rema, marking a pivotal moment for this talented artist and the entire Afrobeats community.
“It’s clear that the genre is making a significant impact and gaining substantial influence on the global music stage, and we are excited to continue supporting it at Spotify.”
MBW caught up with Mavin Records founder Don Jazzy to ask about his predictions for Afrobeats and for Rema following his new streaming milestone…
What does Rema’s streaming success tell us about Afrobeats’ positioning in the global music business?
We’re certainly getting there for sure. Locally there is still a long way to go concerning streaming. Many of our people here still lack easy access to the internet. Many are understandably not so eager to pay DSP subscription fees.
“Right now, our music discovery is at an all-time high.”
But with time, we know things will get better. There will be easier access to data, the internet and people will be able to enjoy streaming services and in turn, consolidate the incredible growth we’ve witnessed in the past couple of years.
Right now, our music discovery is at an all-time high. It is great to see the result. Rema just won at the VMAs [in] a whole new category introduced to celebrate the incredible sounds coming out of Africa.
The Grammys did the same thing. The world is taking note and this only represents good things for the genre. I’m really excited about where we’re going.
What are your predictions for Afrobeats over the coming months and years following this milestone?
Growth. More collaboration. More discovery. To be honest, we are in a good place right now but I predict that the new generation of Afrobeats artists will capitalize on the current momentum and make sure this is not just a temporary wave.
“The new generation of Afrobeats artists will capitalize on the current momentum and make sure this is not just a temporary wave.”
‘Afrobeats to the World’ is the motto of how we started, but even now, people outside of Africa have started attempting [to make music in] the genre.
I expect that we will have more collaborations at the highest level. Live performances will have to improve tremendously in terms of production, as it is one of the drivers of our global discovery.
On the business side, we also expect a lot more partnerships and collaborations. I hope to see more investment in the scene, more global opportunities for the players behind the scenes, and cross-cultural exchange. We are aiming big.
What are your ambitions for Rema following this achievement?
For Rema, the ambition has always been to help him realize his immense potential. Working with an artist who has a similar vision and drive to be at the top means that there is really no ceiling for what he can go on to achieve.
At such a young age, he is already one of Afrobeats’ most prominent torchbearers, our ambition is to see him do more, win more, break more boundaries, and continuously open the door for artists of his generation to flourish.
We will keep working with Rema and discovering different ways to help him become what we know he has the potential to be one of the biggest artists in the world.Music Business Worldwide