The Rise of AmaPiano: South Africa to the world

Every journey begins with the proverbial first step and that is the story of AmaPiano, which represents a truly South African sound rooted in the genre of electronic dance music influenced by kwaito, another popular South African genre that emerged in the early 1990’s. It also features elements of R&B and hip hop, but deviates slightly with the inclusion of brighter jazz keys and vocal cuts.

The genre first found prominence in the ‘underground’ space of the pubs and taverns popular amongst South Africa’s township community.

By 2016, it began to fully emerge in the form we currently know it today and artists such as Kabza de Small, Gaba Cannal and MFR Souls began producing a slightly more ‘urban’ sound of the yanos, as it’s often referred to. By 2017 AmaPiano  had gone from an underground sound shared predominantly on messaging apps to being in high rotation on commercial radio stations countrywide. 

Spotify met the growing demand from AmaPiano-loving fans by launching its flagship AmaPiano Grooves playlist,  the first official playlist launched for the genre in South Africa. The introduction of the playlist offered Spotify’s global audience of over 365 million active users access to the genre, beyond traditional audio platforms. 

Through the power of its platform Spotify has not only worked with artists to showcase AmaPiano to an international audience but has supported its emerging and established artists through masterclasses that aim to upskill them to succeed on its platform, through tools like Spotify for Artists.   

“AmaPiano has helped to accelerate the export of African music to the rest of the world and as a platform that immerses itself in the cultures of all the markets we are present in, it was important for us to help support the development of the creator’s community and in turn further elevating the genre and driving its discoverability,” says Melanie Treigaardt: Lead, Music Strategy and Operations, Sub Saharan Africa.

AmaPiano is currently one of the most talked about and consumed genres in the industry and recent data released by Spotify indicates that streams of the AmaPiano Grooves playlist have increased by 210% globally over the past year and the genre has seen an increase of 170% over the same period. The rising popularity of AmaPiano outside South African borders was evident with the UK and USA claiming the second and third spots respectively for countries who have streamed AmaPiano the most over the past 90 days.

The latest data released by Spotify is validated by the recent successful tour of AmaPiano hitmakers to the UK, performing to crowds dedicated to the homegrown, South African sound. Artists including DBN Gogo, Focalistic and Cassper Nyovest were amongst the many artists and producers that took to the stage at AMA Fest 2021. 

With hits such as ‘Siyathandana’ by Cassper Nyovest, Abidoza, Boohle; ‘Sponono’ by Kabza De Small featuring the giants of African sounds – Burna Boy & WizKid with Cassper Nyovest and Madumane, and Banyana by DJ Maphorisa, Daliwonga, Kabza De Small, Sir Trill, Tyler ICU, topping the list for the most streamed AmaPiano tracks in Nigeria in the past 90 days, the genre continues to grow from strength to strength both locally and abroad.

Below is the complete list of the most streamed tracks of the genre.

Top 10 streamed AmaPiano tracks in Nigeria over the past 90 days 

  1. Siyathandana by Cassper Nyovest, Abidoza, Boohle
  2. Sponono by Kabza De Small, Madumane, Burna Boy, WizKid, Cassper Nyovest, 
  3. Banyana by DJ Maphorisa, Daliwonga, Kabza De Small, Sir Trill, Tyler ICU
  4. Izolo by DJ Maphorisa, Daliwonga, Madumane, Mpura, Tyler ICU, Visca
  5. Woza by Mr JazziQ, Kabza De Small, Lady Du, Boohle
  6. Dinaledi by League Djz, Mpho Sebina, Abidoza, Major 
  7. Ababuyanga by Major League Djz, Josiah De Disciple, Aymos,
  8. Soweto Baby (feat. WizKid & DJ Buckz) by DJ Maphorisa, DJ Buckz, WizKid
  9. Khuza Gogo by DBN Gogo, Ama Avenger, Blaqnick, M.J, MasterBlaq, Mpura
  10. Squander (feat. Niniola & Sayfar) – Remix by Falz, Kamo Mphela, Mpura, Niniola, Sayfar
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