Not all is lost in the creativity industry
Covid-19 has dealt a huge blow to all sectors of the economy, and the creative industry has not been spared either. The sector could be bleeding, but there’s still a gleam of hope as JASMINE ATIENO writes
The coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc across the globe. In Kenya, the measures taken to contain the deadly virus have had a direct impact on the production, enjoyment and exchange of creative sector goods, services and experiences.
With this, there has been a massive slow down, postponement and cancellation of activities, which has had devastating effects on the sector.
All public arenas have been on a total lockdown, in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.
The cancellation or postponement of all the gigs and concerts has drove the creative almost to the end of the rope.
Most of our creatives depend on concerts and performances in public places for a living, and the lockdown has left a majority of them grappling with loss of income and staring at an uncertain future.
Top benga artiste Makadem has involuntarily become a coronavirus ‘refugee’ in Denmark, after all his gigs and flight back to Kenya were cancelled.
“I am literally a refugee here in Denmark. I received an email from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines on the cancellation of my flight.
There will be communication on the next available dates when I can travel. Here though, the artistes have virtual concerts on social media, which I am currently also doing.
Where there is a number for mobile pay so then the Danes can pay if they like. Money is not a problem for them here; they have it in plenty,” the Kisumu Bound Bus singer told Spice from Denmark.
Businesses on halt
For rapper and singer Fena Gitu, her major loss is on the cancelled events, although she is also trying to make the most out of the time.
“The lockdown has affected everyone, no one is exempted and it’s majorly on the events for me. And there is no formula on how to deal with it, so we are just taking it by the day and safety comes first.
Meanwhile, I am making the most on online live performance platforms to keep up with the time,” says the Save The World hitmaker.
Nairobi-based reggae artiste Binti Afrika also intimates that the lockdown has been really been bad for business, as now most of her works and releases are on pending.
She says, “Personally, most of my projects are just pending now. Cancelled shows are equally hurting the pocket.
I had songs to finish in studio, collaboration with Tanzanian artiste Magzee, but sadly it’s now on hold. New releases will have to be pushed to a later date.
What’s left now is a matter of doing a lot of creative digital marketing on music that’s already out there because royalties from downloads and airplay will come in handy in place of shows and event fees.
Other than that, it has given me time to meditate and reflect. My album is on hold, while at the same time I have been approached by some creative sponsors, so it’s not all a loss. I now have adequate time to weigh my options well.”
Despite the current lockdown on concerts, rapper and singer Nyashinski is readying himself to treat his fans to a live gig on April 8.
It will provide a sneak peek into his upcoming solo album titled Lucky You. The concert will be streamed live via his digital pages from 9.30pm.
“This album will be a dedication to my fans all over the world. So, I am inviting them to tune in to the live stream on my digital pages as we also do our part to stay #TogetherApart during this time,” he says.
Gospel spinmaster DJ Sadic, who also runs a deejaying academy and music production house, says the coronavirus has been immensely bad for his business.
“All my events have been cancelled. My deejay school has also been closed just like all other learning institutions.
The studio too had to close down too, so there are no recording sessions going on right now. It’s really bad for business. But at the same time, it’s not all bad.
It has given me the time to create new beats and mixes, which I send to the artistes I work with, so they can work on them while we are waiting for normalcy.
Meanwhile I am able to create enough content for social media where I am going live,” says Sadic.
No more laughter
Comedian MC Jessy intimates the lockdown has greatly affected things for him as a performer and businessman.
Jessy, the CEO of Brandface Media advertising agency, says his clients that include Coca-Cola have indefinitely stopped campaigns. Being a live audience performer, he says, he depends wholly on live gatherings.
Nine of his events that were spread across two months have been put on hold untill further notice, but he choses to stay positive.
“The break is a time to plan ahead, for when the pandemic ends, we must have things running again.
As an agency, we are utilising digital advertising and we’ve lowered the rates, to ease the cost burden for our customers.
We are also assisting the government to push awareness on Covid-19 as responsible parts of the society and I have even developed a new hobby, cooking!
I just realised I actually love cooking; it’s not all that good,1 but I am eating it,” says Jessy.
Reggae artist Mtapa Taa is not just an artiste but also the owner of Tapa Wear clothline and a dreadlocks salon in Nairobi. For him, business has screeched to a halt.
“Nobody is buying the clothes anymore because times are hard and everybody is trying to save as much as possible.
At the same time, no one is coming to the salon and I’ve been left with no option, but to close the doors.
On the brighter side though, despite the fact that gigs and events have been cancelled, this is an opportunity to push my music, especially on radio and TV.
People are finally home and this increases number of viewers and listeners. I am also recording new music, so that the time does not go to waste,” says Mtapa.
DJ Bunduki also shares that the disease outbreak has greatly dented his pocket, as many of his sponsored shows are international.
All his shows in Europe have been cancelled and he is left with nothing much to do right now.
“Honestly, I am confused and stuck. I think President Uhuru Kenyatta needs to address the issue pertaining the creatives.
What’s the plan? There are many of us crying; artistes, deejays and others in the entertainment industry,” Bunduki told Spice.
Creatives in limbo
Afro-fusion and pop artiste Ayrosh says the cancelled shows have greatly affected him as he solely depends on music for a living.
At the same time he says he is planning to still make the most of the period to put out more works and be creative to survive the lockdown. He says,
“Well, we are planning on releasing new music that we had recorded earlier. For example, we just released a new song titled Kuzitoka with Kris Erroh.
The remaining time is to practise and try to adjust and figure out ways of making a living.”
As much as the ‘quarantine’ period will call for extra creativity for the, this time might be transition moment for many people in all areas of business.
Time to work on the self and hopefully in relation to others around you.
“It’s time to learn how to do some chores too. For instance, I know a lot of people who can’t cook as they are used to eating out.
Now they have to cook. Also, it has a positive side because it is levelling things so that people can learn to value each other more. And in life whatever you give has a way of coming back to you.
Also if you can save up, do it. Not everybody can do that, but if you can, it’s really good to.
Other than that, musically I am just working on new collaborations, which will be out soon,” says singer Vivian.
Mombasa based hip-hop artiste Ohms Law Montana’s shows were cancelled all through to June.
He shares that Covid-19 is more depressing as he fully depends on his music for income. “I had just signed some work contracts, but I am just following the government rules about staying safe.
The period at the same time is giving me an opportunity to be available physically for my family at home; they miss me a lot as I am always on the move.
I am also creating more work while at home. I am working on a new album, so when this is done, we are back on a full swing,” shares Montana.
Music promoter and artiste manager Vincent Kras says the lockdown has been really bad on his business.
“We had to call off two shows for artiste Frankie Dee in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) and Qatar. Also we are unable to complete some of our projects since it’s not advisable to travel.
On the positive side, we have a best of Frankie Dee mixtape out on YouTube to keep our fans going.
We’ll be dropping a new audio next week as we network more since most industry players atleast have the time to give you an ear,” he says.
Kisumu-based performer Apesi says the government might have to step in to help artistes and performers.
“I am a live performer, so the lockdown means no gigs for me. I am also a music teacher, but then, no lessons ongoing.
So, I am now just feeding myself on the little I had saved. I think the government needs to come in and help us out because artistes from all backgrounds have been greatly affected.
Good side though, the studios are no longer jammed, so my album work is ongoing without a hitch,” says Apesi.
So, it’s not all gloomy in the creative sector, despite the pinch brought about by the coronavirus disease.
However, just like any other industry, the sector is calling for some bail out in order to lessen the effects of the global pandemic.