Entertainers virtually reach their fans through online platforms

Friday, April 24th, 2020 00:00 |
Azziad Nasenya.

The Internet has played a major role in the entertainment scene during the Covid-19 pandemic. Entertainers are virtually reaching their fans through  online platforms following the blanket ban on gatherings, writes CHEBET KORIR

As with many sectors across the economic board, the entertainment industry has been heavily impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic.

A whole year of musical events and local tours has been thrown into great disarray, as the world almost screeches to a standstill.

However, all is not lost, as Kenyan entertainers have been on their toes to do what they know best, entertain.

And they will have their online presence to thank for the constant engagement they have maintained with their fans across the world.

The Internet has played a major role in the entertainment scene as many showbiz celebrities have embraced different online tactics; some might be considered bizarre and funny, while others are inspiring, engaging and absolutely thrilling.

Take for example the rise of TikTok, a social media app that allows users to post short videos on  different aspects of life. People have been seen lip-synching to music, doing make-up tutorials, performing synchronised dances or indulging in comical skits.

“TikTok was created to bring joy and inspiration to our community. That idea has come to life through the playfulness of our creators who’ve brought dance challenges, funny performances, creative memes and delightfully unique moments. It’s been largely about having fun,” says TikTok president Alex Zhu.

Keeping up enthusiasm

Kenyans have since found ways to beat the boredom by participating in the quarantine-related challenge dubbed #BoredAtHome, which definitely helped pass the time in a much more fun way.

The challenge attracted over 8.5 billion views and a few favourite local celebrities including Sauti Sol’s Willis Chimano and Shiv Simani participated.

Sauti Sol’s first post on TikTok featured lead singer Bien in bursting dance moves to the group’s latest hit song Suzanna. The post immediately attracted more than 105,000 views in a matter of days and more than 10,700 likes.

In the US, for instance, the video-sharing social networking service has so far donated more than US$2 million (Sh200 million) to The Actors Fund Covid-19 Emergency Financial Assistance programme.

This is to provide critical financial assistance to those in the entertainment and performing arts with immediate need.  

“Covid-19 is giving all of us a new perspective, and in the face of this unprecedented crisis, we are collectively seeking moments of joy and inspiration.

Sometimes that means dancing and having fun where we can. Sometimes that means experiencing the comfort and warmth that comes through simple human connection in the face of adversity.

The TikTok community is uplifting one another, caring for one another, and lending a hand to one another,” added Alex.

Online comedian and TikTok ambassador Javier Aranzalez aka Kamau, has been an active user of the app for two years now. He says having more musicians on TikTok brings more visibility to those who create African relatable content.

“The sudden rise of more celebrities on TikTok is a good thing because they post it back on Instagram, which diverts to more traffic back on TikTok.

During this period, I have been able to grow my following from 100,000 to 130,000 meaning there is more engagement,” he says.

Adding to the fun

Azziad Nasenya can be described as an overnight celebrity as she gained her popularity through her TikTok video, where she displayed her dancing skills as she lip-synched to Femi One and Mejja’s viral song Utawezana.

This led netizens to start the #UtawezanaDanceChallenge where people posted short videos imitating her as they danced to the video.

She says the TikTok video was made out of fun and she never expected it to trend.

“I was trolled on twitter, but the hashtag #istandwithazziad played a big role in my life and I realised that I should continue creating more content through the platform,” she says.

Mejja says the song was already doing well, but Azziad’s effort boosted the views, for which he was grateful.

Deejays have also been quite busy. While most of us would think that this would be their perfect time to take a breather, they have been busy entertaining the masses.

Rodney Afande aka Deejay Nruff has been in the music industry for more than a decade now. He teamed up five of his friends and created a Facebook group known as ‘254 Diaspora DJs Live Mix’, as a platform to entertain people online.

“We never expected it would be a favourite to many, but as per now, we have more than 70,000 interactive members both locally and internationally, which is a good thing,” he tells Spice, adding that the internet has played a major role in bringing people together and uniting DJs all over the world.

A fortnight ago, DJ Sunny Sistuki from Raleigh, North Carolina in USA, went live on the platform and dedicated that night’s show to Kenyan gospel singer Gerriey Wainaina’s medical fund, saying that all the proceeds collected would go to support the fund.

Wainaina, now based in Seattle, Washington, has been fighting stage five renal kidney disease since 2018 and has been on the transplant list with no success yet.

He has been undergoing peritoneal dialysis, four times every day for the past two years.

“We all came together for Gerriey Wainaina and it was beautiful. We were able to raise US$6,634 (Sh664,000),” Sunny said in a Facebook post.

DJ Kriss Darlin also raised more than Sh250,000 while entertaining on his social site and used the funds to purchase food and sanitisers for residents of Kibra in Nairobi.

Streaming it live

As more festivals, performances and concerts are cancelled due to the coronavirus shutdown, musicians are taking to social and streaming platforms to play live for their fans.

Rapper Octopizzo, known for hits such Kanye and Noma Ni, held his first virtual YouTube concert that attracted more than 20,000 viewers.

“It was quite interactive and I appreciated how Kenyans supported me. The second virtual show will be dropping soon, so they better be on the lookout,” said Octopizzo.

Recently, fellow rapper and singer Nyashinski also treated his fans to a thrilling live concert, which provided a peek into his much-anticipated album Lucky You.

During the 1.5-hour show with the 4Count Band that had more than 30,000 viewers, he debuted Glory, the first single from the upcoming 12-track debut solo album.

April has also experienced a lot of new music that has been seemingly doing well.

Last week, more than 10 songs were released, including two acoustic songs by Bensoul titled Forget You and No Kisses, Dunda by Sailors, Roll With You by Khaligraph Jones, Cece by Kristoff ft Gabu and Toto by Arrow Bwoy.

Keeping the party going

According to Arrow Bwoy, the Internet has boosted his viewership during this period.

“I thought that it would not be received well, but more fans are now online and have supported me the best way they can.”

He adds that he tries as much to promote his art during this time by sharing in most of his social media pages and engaging through live shows both on Instagram and Facebook.

Kenyan online sensation Xtian Dela has also kept many of his followers wide-awake with his Instagram live show dubbed Club Covid.

His concept is quite simple; he sits on a chair with a tumbler on his right hand as he plays songs awaiting for women who he can ‘wild out’.

The catch is, the best dancer goes home with a cash prize to help them push on through the hard times.

His online presence has interaction of more than 25,000 viewers per show. Efforts to reach him for a comment were in vain, but he seems not to stop anytime soon.

He has followed in the Tory Lanez’ footsteps— a Canadian rapper, singer, composer and record producer—who has also kept his worldwide viewers glued on his Instagram live with his much-publicised Quarantine Radio, with women aggressively joining in to show off their dancing skills. Indeed it has not been a gloomy period at all!

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