Tyla is the first winner of the newly created Grammy Awards Best African Music Performance category, celebrating the best of African music. Water, which is Tyla’s entrance into the global music scene, took home the award at the 66th edition beating out Burna Boy, Davido, Ayra Starr, Musa Keys, among others.
Tyla’s Water journey with Spotify started in July 2023, when the streaming platform hosted a pre-release party on the 18th of July at Greasy Tunes in Braamfontein. The pre-release party was as a result of her being one of RADAR Africa artists, Spotify’s program dedicated to driving the discovery of emerging artists across the world. Taking a cue from what was a monumental career-defining moment, Tyla alongside Spotify documented her quest to become a global artist, culminating in an exclusive first-look screening of her RADAR Africa documentary. This was also the first time public playback of Water to a small exclusive audience, 11 days before its release. Water was officially released on the 28th of July, 2023.
The birth of a challenge
Spotify partnered with Giants of Africa for its first ever festival in Kigali, Rwanda to showcase the power of sports and music. As part of the partnership Spotify invited Tyla to perform as a RADAR artist, leading to the birth of the viral Water challenge. The video, taken on the Giants of Africa stage on 19th August, went viral on social media, quickly racking up millions of views and challenges.
On Spotify, Water’s rise began on 26th August, less than a week after the performance, and had a million streams in a single day for the first time on the 15th of September.
The rise continued and a month later on 26th October, Water hit 100 million streams on Spotify. While most people with an internet connection have likely heard the song at some point in the last year, it appeals most to Gen Z, who make up 32% of the listeners. On playlists, Water has been added to over 8 million playlists on Spotify including Spotify and user-generated playlists and subsequently hitting 7 million saves in the last year.
The power of playlists
Spotify’s support for Water has continued, and it is currently on more than 200 Spotify editorial and algorithmic playlists, including the most popular ones such as Today’s Top Hits, Viral Hits and Hot Hits US and UK. Playlists contribute massively to the discovery of artists and their tracks.
“Watching this song grow globally in places like the Philippines and Indonesia has been amazing for us. Tyla is a massive talent from South Africa and the growth we have seen for this track, over 300M streams since release, is a testament to that,” says Jodie Tabisher, Artist, Label and Partnerships Manager, South Africa.
Water has traveled a long way from the streets of Johannesburg to the global stages, with the United States, Philippines, the United Kingdom, Brazil, and Australia making up the top five countries streaming the song in the past year.
With this Grammy win, it’s likely that the song will continue making waves, months from now.