The world is still coming to terms with the recent coronavirus outbreak.
As countries put in place various lockdown measures in the hopes that social distancing will prevent the further spread of the pandemic, African artists have been hard hit. Scheduled performances have been cancelled and entire tours in some instances.
On the other hand, the grim reality has also allowed artists to become more creative with how they put out their music and engage with fans. Artists such as DJ Black Coffee and singer Berita have already led the way with livestream performances on social media—a trend that’s fast becoming popular.
And so we spoke to a few African artists about how they’ve been personally affected by the coronavirus outbreak and tried to find out some of the ways they’re going about connecting with their audience.
Prince Kaybee, South African artist
“The outbreak has affected my work and performances. Gigs have been cancelled but it’s given me more time to work on my music, my other business and work on ways to brainstorm with my teams—to be present. I have more time in the studio and I’m going to release more music very soon because of that.
As far as recording is concerned, it’s a bit of a mission because you don’t know if other artists are infected or not. So what we do is you’ll send a project and someone will send it back. Although I prefer being in the studio while they write to a song, unfortunately, in this circumstance we’re forced to send and trust that someone will write something meaningful to your song, record it properly and send it back so you can finish it up. But if you’re only doing beats, it’s easy and it gives you more time to do that at home.
I’m going to be doing the livestream thing. I’m just looking for the right concept, the right aesthetics. I just don’t want to do something normal. We need to create the mood, give people the nostalgic feel of dance music. I love dark colours so it’ll probably be all-black with a bit of light. I want the focus to be on the art more than anything. I need the perfect aesthetics for it and then I’ll do it.”
Lady Donli, Nigerian musician
“The outbreak has really put a shadow of uncertainty around my life. Shows are my primary source of income so cancelling my tour was pretty big for me. Regardless, this period is giving me time to re-group. I’m thinking of new ways to interact with my audience, so we can both get through this together—hopefully, stronger.
Laylizzy, Mozambican rapper
“For the past two/three months I’ve been working in a lot of different studios here in Maputo, Mozambique, where I’m at right now with different engineers, different producers and artists but because it’s dangerous to be in those studio environments right now, I’m gonna have to get back to recording at my home studio.
I see DJs already started doing live-streams with other DJs which is interesting because we can play from the livestream to our speakers and then play it through our homes. If you’re like me, and you live with two or three people, it’s entertaining during this self-isolation period. But when it comes to being a rapper, my performances are more about energy, the sweat and jumping around so my fans are going to see a big difference. We’re making a plan to see if we are going to do the live performances or just keep it at dope freestyles and a lot of music.”
TRESOR, Congolese musician
“The outbreak has affected my workflow and that of artists under my label. I had multiple booked shows that have been cancelled throughout till May meaning loss of income. Right now I am rather focusing on creating and writing more music. I will see how I feel in the coming days and maybe might do an online live show but can’t promise anything yet.”
Shingai Darangwa, founder of Punchline Media and manager of Boskasie, South African artist
“The coronavirus outbreak hit us right when it mattered most. [Boskasie] was supposed to release her single and we’d planned a whole press run. We had to cancel that. We had planned a launch at Sumo and we had to cancel that. We’d planned a whole media run and we’re gonna have to cancel most of that including the promo shows in support of the single. That hits hard because we’ve been planning this for the last three months.
We’re gonna have to find a creative way of doing music drops as opposed to the conventional ways. We’re working on how to maximise social media. It is an opportunity to be creative though. During this period, we’ll see who’s made of the real stuff, the people who can stand the test of time and those who will crumble.”
Lucille Slade, South African artist
“All promotional radio tours have been cancelled for both the songs I have out. TV shows for promotions and further gigs have also been put on hold. It puts a huge weight on you financially because any income that was expected is now cut.”
How are African Artists Dealing With Coronavirus?
The coronavirus is a global pandemic with communities across the world taking precautions to stop the spread of the disease. Some countries are in nationwide lockdowns, while in other places, people are encouraged to self-isolate.