On 13 March 2018, Spotify officially went live in South Africa. Over the past five years, the global streaming platform has provided the soundtrack to many people’s lives, recorded some major milestones, and helped thousands of artists and creators find an audience for their craft.
Spotify data provides a look into the early days of the streaming service in the country, and the growth of streaming over the past five years.
A new stage for creators:
Over the past five years, artists in Mzansi have added almost 1 million tracks to the platform. Over the years, more South African artists have joined, becoming part of a global cohort of over 10 million creators.
“Spotify provides a global platform for these creators to share their music and podcasts with the world and our entrance into the market has allowed local artists to grow their audiences and monetize their creativity. Spotify programmes like EQUAL, Fresh Finds, RADAR and GLOW have also helped to market and support local, emerging, and underrepresented artists,”
says Jocelyne Muhutu-Remy, Managing Director for Spotify in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The first song streamed on Spotify in South Africa on launch day was the 1998 remastering of Jazz artist Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight and this sense of nostalgia is a trend that has consistently been seen in South Africa since Spotify’s launch.
The only South African track to feature in those first ten tracks is Shekhinah’s Thirsty, which is fitting as she also performed at the official launch party.
What are South Africans listening to?
“The country has eclectic tastes and Spotify features like New Music Friday and Made for You allow them to keep discovering new artists and music that they love,”
The most streamed track across the nation since launch has been The Weeknd’s Blinding Lights, followed by The Glass Animals’ Heat Waves and Lewis Capaldi’s ballad Someone You Loved.
The most streamed track by a South African artist in Spotify’s five year history is SETE by K.O, Young Stunna and Blxckie, which ranks at number five. Also featuring in the top ten is Abelele by Kabza De Small, DJ Maphorisa and Ami Faku.
Rapper Drake is the most streamed artist on Spotify over the past five years, with Amapiano artist Kabza de Small at number two, out-streaming The Weeknd, and Juice WRLD. DJ Maphorisa rounds out the top five most streamed artists in the country- a further testament to the massive appeal of the Amapiano genre.
Where are they listening?
City data since the start of 2022 shows that Drake dominates as the most streamed artist in most cities- although Durbanites buck the trend, where Puff Kennedy is the most streamed artist. AKA, whose posthumous album Mass Country was released earlier this month, and who saw a major increase in streams following his death, is the most streamed local artist in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Bloemfontein, Gqeberha, and Polokwane.
The country is also listening to a mix of local and international podcast content. Data since 2022 shows that the most streamed podcast in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein is the Joe Rogan Experience. The top streamed local podcast in many of South Africa’s bigger cities is MacG’s Podcast and Chill while Anything Goes with Emma Chamberlain feature in the top five for Cape Town and Bloemfontein.
How much time do they spend on Spotify?
Over the past five years, Mzansi has spent more than 1.2 billion hours streaming music on Spotify amounting to +30 billion streams.
The average number of hours South Africans spent listening to podcasts comes in at over 23 billion hours of podcasts since launch.
When it comes to who is listening to podcasts- it’s neck and neck between GenZ’s and Millennials, who make up 29% and 28% of the listenership respectively.
“The first five years in South Africa have been an incredible journey for us as we’ve worked to significantly grow music and podcast streaming. Research by Dataxis shows that music streaming revenue for the whole of Africa in 2018 stood at $26.9 million, but is estimated to reach $314,6 million in 2026 and we are excited to see African content creators reap the benefits of this burgeoning market, “