For a long time, the international success of the Afrobeats genre was mainly concentrated in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, and France because of the high concentration of Nigerians and Africans in the diaspora in these countries.
But, in a sign of just how global the genre is becoming, more and more Afrobeats artists are finding a strong footing in Asia and the Middle East and North Africa.
In the 2000s, superstars like 2Baba, P-Square, and D'banj dominated the African music scene and played a part in taking Afrobeats beyond the continent. By collaborating with American superstars such as T Pain, Akon, Snoop Dogg, and Rick Ross, these Nigerian music legends successfully brought Afrobeats some international exposure.
Afrobeats' international journey received a major boost in 2010 when D'banj released his smash hit record 'Oliver Twist' which went on to enjoy impressive success in the United Kingdom.
The journey gained momentum in 2014 after Nigerian-British rapper Skepta and Canadian megastar Drake freestyle on Wizkid's 'Ojuelegba' and brought the song and Afrobeats international exposure. Drake would later put Wizkid on his smash hit record 'One Dance' which further opened the international doors for Afrobeats.
But Spotify data shows the impact that streaming and social media are having in opening up new markets for Afrobeats artists and exposing people from all around the globe to new music.
Data for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) ranks Afrobeats superstars Rema, CKay and BurnaBoy as the most streamed artists in the region, while Ayra Starr and Tems rank as the top streamed female artists. In both Asia and India, Rema, CKay and Libianca occupy the top spots as the most streamed Afrobeats artists.
CKay’s journey to fame in the Middle East and Asia comes in the wake of his smash hit ‘Love Nwantiti' blowing up on social media in 2021, becoming Nigeria’s biggest international song.
The fame of the single in North Africa led CKay to record a remix with Moroccan rapper ElGrande Toto. The single also made history when it became the first African song to top the Indian International Singles Chart.
And since Ckay's music crossed over to Asia and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), more Afrobeats artists have started looking towards the Eastern audiences.
Rema is set to take things to a whole new level with the success of his smash hit 'Calm Down' remix featuring Selena Gomez. The footage of his 3-day tour of India emerged on social media, showing thousands of fans singing along to 'Calm Down'.
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The single topped the Indian International Music Chart (IMI), as well as the IFPI Middle East and North African (MENA) chart, the world’s first regional streaming chart, which earned him a Guinness World Record as the first number-one song on the chart.
The track is also the most streamed Afrobeats track according to Spotify data in the Middle East, India and Asia. His dominance in the MENA market is illustrated by the fact that the track, without the Selena collaboration, also holds the number two spot.
Fans in these markets are mostly GenZers, but an age breakdown shows that Afrobeats appeals to fans of all ages. In the Middle East and North Africa for instance, 11% of streamers are between the age of 35 and 44.
After establishing a strong footing in the West, Afrobeats is now planting its feet in the East. These efforts have delivered early gains with the help of social media, streaming services, and key collaborations.
With Afrobeats' growing international appeal and artists like Ckay and Rema's unprecedented exploits in the Middle East and Asia, it’s definitely a case of East meets West Africa as Afrobeats continues on its path to global domination.
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