How Rema and Selena Gomez Bagged A Billion Streams

On September 12, 2023, the 23-year-old ravestar, Rema, emerged as the first African musician to hit a billion streams on Spotify with the Calm Down remix featuring Selena Gomez.

His success isn’t by chance, streaming farm or just big budgets. Rema put in the work to get his billion streams. We dived into his records to find out how he made history with the Selena Gomez-assisted remix, and summarised our research into these seven steps.

How Rema and Selena Gomez Bagged A Billion Streams

Rema consistently delivered

As long as you’re ready to learn and grind this music hustle with a positive attitude, you too could get documented in the journey of afrobeats as it blazes through history like its new prince, Rema.

Since his Dumebi debut in 2019, Rema’s honed his skills through consistent delivery of music, videos and tours. After winning the Headies’ Next Rated award in the same year he debuted, he’s shown versatility with two EPs, an album and a series of singles.

Worked with producers who understood the mission

Rema locked himself in the studio with Andre Vibez and London to give us Calm Down. The three collaborators rearranged the song and polished its layers until it became a hit.
While Calm Down pushed Rema’s album to become the first African album to enter 1 billion streams, the same song put its producers on Billboard 100 Hot Producers’ list.

Promoted the hell out of the song

One part of the job is done when an artist finds the hack to score a perfect afrobeats hit. The rest? You come up with schemes to elevate the song. Enter song promotion.

Rema was on the road for shows and media runs, which continued conversations around the single and generally his music, giving him more exposure.

Struck while the iron was hot

Barely a month after Calm Down dropped, Rema released his debut album Rave & Roses (March 2022) — one of the biggest debut afrobeats albums. Calm Down is the hottest and biggest song on the album, so it’s logical he chose to remix it.

Rema was keen to work with a female artist, and chose none other than Selena Gomez, a talented singer and actress with a very committed community. The remix was out in five months.

He made his collaborator his friend

From producer to features, tt’s necessary to work with people who see your vision. With Rema and Selena, it wasn’t just business as usual when they planned to remix Calm Down. (Business as usual is when the relationship ends after a featured artist drops their verse. They don’t promote or push the work.)

Selena and Rema were fans of each other’s music before their teams met and began working out the collaboration process. She liked Runaway, the closing track on Rave & Roses.

Kept pushing

Rema didn’t just stop at releasing a remix. He remained visible online and offline. Calm Down’s remix came out in August 2022 to criticism and acclaim, then it steadfastly climbed the Billboard chart, peaking at number one. The song entered the Billions Club on Spotify — setting a record that’s also the first of its kind.

Still pushing the song together

As the song got bigger, we saw them together in the media. Recently, on September 13, 2023, at the MTV Video Music Award, they both received a plaque for Best Afrobeats, the first of its category at the event.

You might not have Selena Gomez’s phone number or a solid label backing you, but hard work, consistency and collaboration will always be key ingredients to grow and reach a wider audience. If Rema hadn’t put in the work that got him noticed or fostered the relationship that birthed his most prominent song, Calm Down, he wouldn’t have a billion streams on Spotify.