According to Spotify’s latest report, Sub-Saharan Africa’s most exported artists are Burna Boy, Rema and Tems.

These musical trailblazers are taking traditional sounds and injecting them with contemporary beats, creating an irresistible fusion that’s captivating audiences worldwide. 

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The three aren’t just making waves within Africa; they’re breaking down barriers and teaming up with international superstars most recently Burna Boy with J.Cole, Rema with Selena Gomez and Tems with Rihanna.

These collaborations not only produce amazing music but are a cross-cultural dialogue that transcends borders and sparks a worldwide love affair with African music. 

Spotify Wrapped data for 2023 reveals the undeniable growing influence of African artists across the globe, with African music witnessing a 26% year-on-year increase in plays outside the continent. 

What makes them exportable?

Given how significant a force Afrobeats has become in recent years, it shouldn’t be surprising that Nigerian artists dominated the charts of most exported artists in sub-Saharan Africa, with the dynamic duo Rema and Burna Boy leading the pack. 

These two aren’t just Afrobeats ambassadors; they’re global music forces.

Rema’s got the first African-led single to hit a billion streams on Spotify, in his “Calm Down” collaboration with Selena Gomez, and he’s the first Nigerian Afrobeats artist to crack Spotify’s top 10 global chart of most-streamed artists in 2023. 

Additionally, they both also dominated the 2023 Billboard Awards. Burna Boy took home the Top Afrobeats Artist award, while Rema and Selena Gomez’s “Calm Down” snagged Top Afrobeats Song. 

Taking up the third spot, Tems is the most exported female artist in SSA. Her work on Black Panther as well as her writing credits on “Lift Me Up” performed by Rihanna made her one of the most talked about African celebrities in 2023. 

Ayra Starr, another Nigeria sensational artist snagged the title of the most streamed female artist in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda on Spotify in 2023. 

She also ranked number four on the top list of most exported artists in SSA. 

Asake also makes the list by mesmerising audiences beyond Nigeria which earned him the title of the most streamed artist in Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo, and in the top ten of most exported artists from SSA. 

Why is Nigerian music is exportable?

It’s not just artists; Nigerian music itself is dominating the charts. Nine out of the top 10 most exported recordings in sub-Saharan Africa are Nigerian tunes! 

Rema’s “Calm Down” and the remix version with Selena Gomez are both in the top, followed by Ayra Starr’s Rush and CKay’s “Love Nwantiti (ah ah ah)” – a song that’s still going strong even after its 2021 release.

Of course, artists from other countries in sub-Saharan Africa have seen international success too. 

Ghana’s Amaarae sits in the top 20. Expand things a little further and you’ll find artists from São Tomé and Príncipe (in the shape of Calema) and Côte d’Ivoire, through the Magic System. South African artists Master KG, Nomcebo Zikode and Black Coffee are all among the top 40 most exported artists in the region, the first two thanks to their track “Jerusalema”, which is still going strong since its 2020 release, and subsequent social media chokehold.

The success of these artists, and others, show how global the market for African music has become. 

Given how hungry some of the world’s biggest artists are to collaborate with their African counterparts – either as singers and musicians or producers – that growth isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon either. 

As Phiona Okumu, Spotify’s Head of Music for SSA says, “It’s music that transcends differences and brings people together, moving them to dance, sing, and revel in the shared experience.”

“African music is a force of creativity that’s breaking down barriers and weaving a global tapestry of unity. These artists, with their commitment to authenticity, diversity, and social awareness, are leaving an indelible mark on the world stage,” Okumu said.

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