Feature

Under SA’s current social restrictions because of Coronavirus, are live streamed gigs the way of the foreseeable future?

Since publishing my initial article on Monday, which outlined a few ways that you can help musos generate alternative streams of revenue during these trying times, things for the entertainment industry in South Africa have gotten substantially worse.

To be honest, things are looking bleak AF with people being forced into self-isolation, venues closing their doors with immediate effect, and festivals being cancelled wholesale.

From Sho Madjozi to The Shabs – this virus legit don’t give two shits – and if you ain’t getting onstage, you ain’t earning a living. Simple.

Now while my entire business is built online, I am in no way, shape or form an expert when it comes to a wholly systematic online operation for events. For me, this is an entirely new way of navigating an event space and so, in my mind, a pay-per-view system for events would make the most sense, right?

For SA artists with international fan bases who are streaming from all over the world, hell yes.

But for SA artists looking to appease their local audiences, apparently not.

After chatting to Julian Von Plato (Director of DiscovrTv & PockitTv) I found out that pay-per-view has had a pretty poor showing with past events in SA. The reason for this is simple – low credit card penetration. This is because not many South Africans own a credit card, and because credit card penetration amongst those who do is not enough to make a difference, due to the fact that consumers are still majorly paranoid about entering their details in online.

Von Plato also took the time to explain, #HomeConcerts, his newest live stream venture to me. #HomeConcerts is a joint venture between PockitTV, DiscovrTV and SA’s #1 Network for Mobile that aims to provide a live streaming platform for SA artists, where they will be invited to live stream a 30-minute performance from their studio, home or a behind-closed-doors venue.

“These live streams will be carried on all our digital platforms as free live streams to the public and our aim is to help monitize these live stream shows through a donation platform,” Von Plato clarified.

And while the ins and outs of how this donation platform will work is still being hashed out between all parties, #HomeConcerts looks promising.

Internationally, live streaming is kicking off. Chris Martin, John Legend and a bunch more high-profile artists launched a new series called #TogetherAtHome, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and our homies at Global Citizen, with the intention of entertaining the masses while aiming to raise $675 million throughout April towards COVID-19 relief.

Over in club land and Irish legends Dropkick Murphys streamed their entire St. Patrick’s Day celebration set from Boston last night. Meanwhile in Toronto a genius playwright called Nick Green created The Social Distancing Festival, a site that celebrates artists and their work that has been cancelled, delayed or disrupted.

Back on the home front and the annual National Arts Festival (formerly the Grahamstown National Arts Festival) announced yesterday that it would go ahead, but that they were going to run entirely virtually.

“Going virtual will mean that the Festival can continue to support artists and the arts in 2020, by presenting work within a digital space,” Monica Newton, CEO of the National Arts Festival told SA’s press in a statement yesterday. “This way we can share some magic and hope with those who may still be confined to their homes. An opportunity to connect when we are being asked to distance ourselves from one another.”

“Live does not always auto transfer very well into a digital online space – so the reality is that a lot of the work that you traditionally see at the festival, we won’t be able to present in a digital space,” Newton explained further to 702’s Bruce Whitfield on his show yesterday.

“So we need to re-conceptualise the festival – artists need to re-conceptualise their work. We’re looking at live-streamed performances, recorded performance, certainly a lot of work that’s happening in the digital world anyway – film, script readings, virtual reality, photo collages, Facebook gatherings. These are the kind of things we are looking to produce for the first ever virtual arts festival 2020,” she concluded.

This is, in my mind, a giant leap in the right direction. Steps are being made and processes are being implemented, no matter how small they might currently seem.

We gotta start somewhere, right?