Online service by artistes is the new normal in lockdown

Monday May 11 2020

Jazz Junc

A past Kigali Jazz Junction live performance. Many such events were halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. PHOTO | ANDREW I. KAZIBWE 

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Though eating into its space to make ends meet, the lockdown that has lasted weeks due to the Covid-19 pandemic has not only paved way for more online interactions among Rwandan artists, but also questions over its sustainability.

 Just like globally, where artists are accustomed to digital media for virtual concerts, Rwandans have in the past few weeks gradually embraced online media to reach out to their audiences.

Through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, various artists including Deejays Eric Soul, Pius, Marnuad, Selector K’Ru, Africano, Princess Flor, Toxxyk, musicians Adriane Misigaro, Bruce Melodie, Tom Close, Deo Salvatore, Miss Shannel, Dany Beats, and visual artists, and Comedy Knights, have since March, organised solo and joint performances for their audiences.

These have been the sole gateway to retaining relevance among their various publics. But some view things differently, “I definitely miss live performances, but am thankful for the Internet,” said Stella Tushabe, a saxophonist.

“I get to know what kind of content followers enjoy, through the analytics that social media provides, which is a bit different from live performances,” she adds.

“This breaks barriers usually involved accessing an artist and works; from booking flights, hotels, venues, organisation has been eased,” adds Eric Kirenga, a Deejay and administrator of AfroGroov, an events management company.


Having thus far brought together over 35 artists from Rwanda, Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Canada, Sweden, Belgium, for several live online sessions, he terms it a worthwhile experience. “It allows one to create richer experiences that would otherwise have been hard to attain in a normal setting,” Kirenga says.

Lessons learnt “We are exploring different ways of reaching the audiences online,” adds Clement Ishimwe, a music producer and manager of Kina Music Artists’ label. But the elephant in the room is whether artists are earning their keep from this adopted venture.

Mr Ishimwe notes that the difference between Rwanda and developed countries, where digital media is more established is that there are no guaranteed earnings in the local performance.  “Though it is not as huge as that of organising physical venue concerts, there is still a financial input,” Mr Ishimwe adds.

“In Rwanda, artists are not paid if it is not a live performance on stage,” he said. Mani Martin, an Afro pop and traditional artiste urges the public not to ignore the fact that the consumption of this works of art should also be paid for to support of its owners.

Ms Tushabe adds that it is difficult to attaining quality sound in homes, which affects the quality of content. Eric Soul adds that digital medial experience will encourage artists into producing more quality content for their expanded audiences