Creatives get smart as virus dims lights on shows

Pandemic or not, the competitive nature of being a creative is not a secret. One has to win the hearts of a consumer in co-existence with peers that offer more or less virtuoso-wise, are marginally different or similar to you, or just have nuances about them that make them slightly leveraged or disadvantaged.

Sometimes, you’re not even in the same line of work as them and this frees up space for one to ‘operate’. Either way, one’s creativity, intellect and ability should be able to separate them from the pack.  

With social distancing and quarantine now being the norm, content creators are scratching their heads for ideas that would eventually find way into our living rooms, and ultimately earn them dividend.

Many were not prepared for this but are nonetheless slowly adapting to the new culture, hopefully hoping to make themselves as reliant as they were before.

“My main income source was playing live gigs. Through that my team and I would earn from ticket sales, partnerships with the venue, beverage companies, even the people that bring the technicalities such as perishable washrooms,” artist and folk fusion performer Ayrosh says. “It has wreaked havoc, because even industries such as licensing agents have to look for alternatives, not just us creatives.” 

The times are interesting, and the reactions from the responsible divide of artistes even more compelling. From working remotely, and channeling that intuition, these times call for ideas and technology savoir faire to be king.

“It’s an opportunity to be innovative. You can see lots of artistes working on live-stream shows; this has been great. Some of us can work remotely, but for many, it remains to be seen what can happen from there,” musician, producer and sound engineer Jaaz Odongo shares.

Rapper-singer Nyashinski played his cards in announcing a much anticipated album early but this coincided with the coronavirus pandemic. However, he could not turn back and let a multitude of supporters down.

His robust reaction to manifesting a high calibre roll-out of his magnum opus Lucky You had to be so thorough and twice the effort he would employ in normal circumstances. And so it was, a livestream of a performance that was textbook, from visual and sonic quality, the bar was raised so high, even a ‘normal’ event would have to struggle to oust that dexterity and execution. To top it off, it wasn’t just a typical virtual event; he had it so mapped out that viewers could support him with proceeds through a Safaricom partnership that only cost Sh20, which ended up looking like the bargain of bargains.

Even DJs who are not such strangers to proxy experiences through their live sets uploaded on to digital avenues are embracing the shift temporarily.

“Honestly, I love playing live than uploading sets. Right now though, I have had to get resources up, from internet and equipment. I just need some passion and my stage to keep me going,” says DJ IV, who coincidentally was the first Kenyan DJ to take to her Instagram and upload a live set during quarantine.

She claims all she needed to do was start to make this a regularity in her schedule.

Besides these pristine acts displaying a heart full of determination, more content creators in Podcasting – Chaxy and Ayrosh (Just Kidding Podcast); DJs – Blinky, Xclusive, Styles; comedians – Seth Gor, Flaqo, Sammy Kioko, Eric Omondi; music producers – Provoke, Thomas Olango, Savara Mudigi and vloggers – Miss Mandi with her throwdowns among others, there is certainly no lack of entertainment, as normal programming on broadcast media and digital spaces keeps many occupied when necessary.

Even an apps bonanza such as Onlyfans, Tiktok, Triller, House Party, and Zoom have imploded and brought lots of joy as people can curate while not being socially isolated from loved ones.

Business acumen

There are the passionate, and there are the Wolves of Nairobi entertainment streets - a crop of entertainers that know how to look for opportunity and make it count. They are still delivering top tier content while making bank rolls dance for them.

“There are still corporate organisations that are working. They are giving out good cash to relevant entertainers to brand their stuff,” says DJ Xclusive in a candid Instagram Live session with musician Naiboi.

DJ G-Money has scored exclusive deals with brew company Ballentines and e-commerce giants Jumia through Jumia Party. Hennessy is said to be looking for partners as well. While Seth Gor has been staying on top of his game with Dettol promoting sanitisers in his vines, while marketing William Lawsons through this stay-at-home period.

“Don’t stop planning, be shrewd, and also realise the importance of passive income. Investment and savings are what are coming through for artistes right now. Hopefully people also recognise the kind of leaders they have chosen. Western countries are bailing out their artistes, while we can see our situation,” Jaaz Odongo shares.

Artistes are still in shock after receiving peanuts from the year’s first quarter payments of royalties from the government.