NEWARK, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 12: Ayra Starr attends the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for MTV)

In recent years, the uptake of African musical talent globally has been extraordinary and 2023 was no exception. With the recent announcement from the Recording Academy on the nominees from Africa for the 2024 Grammy Awards, the continent has entered the global hall of fame.

Although this is not the first time African musicians have graced the Grammys, for 2024, Nigerian Afrobeats stars Damini Ebunoluwa Ogulu (Burna Boy), Ahmed Ololade (Asake), David Adedeji Adeleke (Davido), and Oyinkansola Sarah Aderibigbe (Ayra Starr) have all netted in the nominations.

In a statement released in November, the Academy announced three newly-added categories for the 2024 Grammys, one of which is the Best African Music Performance award, hailed a breakthrough acknowledging the commercial and cultural prowess of African music.

“Giving African music its own category would highlight and celebrate the diversity and richness of Africa,” Shawn Thwaites, project manager at the Recording Academy, said at a roundtable. “This is a great step forward!”

The youngest nominee on this list and lone South African artist is 21-year-old Tyla Laura Seethal, with her viral song, Water, already nominated for two South African Music Awards.

Seethal’s recent and fast climb to the top is testament to the excellent emerging pool of talent in the industry.

When you open the explore pages of video-sharing social media platforms such as TikTok or Instagram Reels or even YouTube shorts, hit songs like Yahyuppiyah from Lungelihle Zwane (Uncle Waffles), Tony Duardo and Justin99, and Unavailable by Davido featuring Musa Makamu (professionally known as Musa Keys) stream into your soundscapes. People from all over the world have taken to social media to ensure they get the energetic moves right for the vigorously viral songs.


Davin Phillips, Executive Director at Celebrity Services Africa (CSA), an agency that specializes in brand marketing in the culture and entertainment space, says that social media has amplified the  reach of African artists.

“I think social media, maybe more technology, has allowed us to actually go into other regions across the continent that previously didn’t have access to certain streaming or publishing. We’ve been able to identify the continent a lot more and bring it together. Also, another thing, as we know, in any emerging market, sometimes we only give our own artists the recognition, but we are seeing the international community recognize them,” Phillips says.

“Social media has amplified the careers of so many artists on the continent, so its role cannot be understated,” adds Phiona Okumu, Head of Music for sub-Saharan Africa at Spotify. “Reaching a global audience, instantly, looked different a few years ago and required significant resources. But now on the back of social media, accessibility has taken a new form for artists.”

Data shows that social media platform TikTok has over 1.677 billion users globally out of which 1.1 billion are its monthly active users as of 2023; South Africa alone makes up about 11.83 million of those users. Instagram’s data also shows there are 2.35 billion active users, and 14.9 million of those users are reportedly from Western Africa.

This has allowed young artists like eSwatini- born DJ, Uncle Waffles, Nigeria’s Rema, and even South Africa’s Musa Keys to take the world by storm in what feels like the blink of an eye. “The pool of artists is a lot younger,” concurs advocate Katlego Malatji, Head of Legal and Business Affairs at Sony Music Africa. “I think the internet has created quite an opportunity for a lot of young acts and a lot more diverse acts to come out with different interpretations and variations of various sounds.”

“Sustainability being obviously a different question altogether as to how sustainable are some of these careers because of the lack of depth that comes with being young; but at the very least, they’re getting their moment”

Katlego Malatji

But a big concern for Malatji, especially from a revenue perspective, is if social media offers a viable and sustainable future for the artists.

“Sustainability being obviously a different question altogether as to how sustainable are some of these careers because of the lack of depth that comes with being young; but at the very least, they’re getting their moment,” Malatji says.

“The challenge is that a lot of the songs that I see go viral are not really listenable songs, like we can’t just be chilling at home [and listening to it],” Amapiano artist Makamu says. “You always have to hear that specific part of the song which is kind of dangerous for some songs, however, some people really need viral moments and some don’t.”

Be that as it may, Dataxis however has predicted that Africa’s annual music streaming revenues will grow (from $92.9 million in 2021) to $314.6 million by 2026. Recently, PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) annual report, Africa’s Entertainment & Media Outlook 2023-2027, highlighted that the music streaming market will continue its march across three of Africa’s biggest markets; South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. Marketing streaming subscription revenue in South Africa alone is set to rise at 10.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach R1.1 billion ($58,494,304) in 2027.

Spotify’s Okumu adds that in 2022, revenues generated by Nigerian artists from Spotify alone reached over NGN11 billion (approximately $14.3 million). While Nigerian music industry revenues overall have grown 63% from 2021 to 2022, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), revenues generated by Nigerian artists, from Spotify, grew 74% over this same time period. Similarly, in 2022, revenues generated by South African artists from Spotify reached nearly R200 million (approximately $10 million) which is three times what it was four years ago.

“These figures only represent a part of the picture. Spotify is one of many music-streaming services that generate revenue for the music industry, and streaming only makes up a portion of all industry revenues,” Okumu adds.


“Africa has incredible creativity that people in Europe and the US marvel at once they get to know about it,” two-time Grammy- award winner Wouter Kellerman says. “I’m very upbeat about the future of African culture and music.”