By Charles Mgbolu
Global streaming giant Spotify last week launched a new platform dedicated to all the latest news and developments about Afrobeats.
‘’Our mission is to continue to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and by giving fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators,’’ Spotify’s Head of Music, Sub-Saharan Africa, Phiona Okumu, tells TRT Afrika.
The new site titled 'Afrobeats: Journey of a Billion Streams', will feature interviews with entertainment experts, Afrobeats videos, and trends around the genre. Last year alone, Afrobeats had over 13 billion streams on Spotify.
Nigerian music star Rema’s song 'Calm Down', which featured American singer Selena Gomez, remains the top streamed Afrobeat song of all time, followed by Nigerian star CKay's ‘Love Nwantiti'.
Spotify says the Afrobeats platform will be updated on a biweekly basis for the next two months.
But it will remain a rich resource that offers fresh updates on Afrobeats developments and an interactive experience for fans to discover and connect with key stakeholders as well as acquire knowledge on the past, present and likely future Afrobeats.
‘’Streaming services have progressively enhanced and changed the way artists connect with their fans, and this has helped them build their careers and audience reach,’’ says Okumu.
According to data from Spotify, the genre has been played for more than 223 million hours, with streams exceeding 7.1 billion so far this year.
‘’We created this site for both new and longtime fans of the genre who would like to have a better understanding of how and where this explosive sound came to be,’’ Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Spotify's Managing Director in Sub-Saharan Africa said in a statement.
There is also a special dedication to Women of Afrobeats on the platform to highlight the contributions of key female figures to the genre which has become a global sensation.
Despite the latest developments, stakeholders in the music industry believe the endemic problem of piracy remains big and streaming is not an enough solution.
‘’There are challenges, but these are not insurmountable. Piracy is the most common challenge in the music industry and in markets where accessibility to high-quality audio is a challenge,’’ Okumu says.
The Recording Industry of South Africa (RiSA) says piracy costs its sector some R500 million to R690 million ($40 million) every year.
‘’Education becomes a key driver,’’ Okumu adds. ‘’It is important for us to work with partners such as creators and media to educate users on the benefits of streaming services—the benefits of legally streaming music and the impact on creators.’’
Afrobeats continues to evolve and attract some of the most creative musical minds and music platforms, with Apple, Qodox, Tidal, and Amazon music already streaming big. The announcement by Spotify will certainly not be the last initiative in the industry.