In the groove: Is Covid-19 still affecting the music industry?
Am I the only fool still talking about Covid-19 when most people seem to have forgotten about this pandemic?
I know the music industry has been affected by Covid-19 in one way or another even though things seem to be opening up now.
With this in mind, we must find ways to solve the resilient recovery of the music sector.
The music business is one of the sectors most affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and will be one of the last sectors to emerge from it.
The crisis has highlighted and accelerated many of the challenges the sector was already facing.
At the same time, he also highlighted the importance of music for individuals and society as a whole.
Music has demonstrated its power to unite and connect people.
Then came the Covid-19 crisis where musicians were not allowed to hold concerts of more than 50 people. It was a disaster. Musicians sometimes chose to perform in small villages that were not patrolled by the police in the hope of attracting huge crowds and, therefore, earning some money.
Even for small groups, touring was a minefield before Covid-19.
Between 2020 and 2022, with the Covid-19 pandemic at its height, people still gathered in small clubs, even in mining complexes, to listen and dance to music in small groups while enjoying their favorite liquor.
However, with all of the Covid-19 restrictions such as social distancing, wearing masks and avoiding crowded places, the pandemic has just thrown a few thousand more mines on the ground.
Anyone who’s been within reach of live music in the past couple of years — from road warrior musicians to anxious concertgoers and all the backstage workers in between — has been acutely aware of the precariousness surrounding live music. in general.
Since “things opened up” again (everything was really closed to begin with), concertgoers and performers have pretty much become oblivious to the intermittent waves of concert cancellations. In the past, before Covid-19, big artists like Jah Prayzah and Winky D never bothered to perform in small towns like Kadoma or even Kwekwe.
These were left for small groups. But now the effects of Covid-19 are being felt as it is now difficult for major artists to win back the crowds they took for granted in 2019 or before that.
In 2020, the “Best of Both Worlds Concert” in Harare, which was to feature Jah Prayzah and Winky D, was canceled at the last minute due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The concert was postponed to the 11th hour. Spectators were left stunned after learning that the event had been cancelled.
This year, Jah Prayzah has seen several concerts canceled in Zimbabwe and South Africa for a variety of reasons including poor sound, weather, Covid-19 restrictions and lack of proper preparation from promoters.
In the past, before the Covid-19 pandemic, a big artist like Jah Prayzah would not bother with small venues like Kadoma or even Gweru and Mutare because he was too busy either being overbooked in Harare or abroad. ‘foreign.
With the relaxation of Covid-19 regulations this year, big bands in Zimbabwe are now trying to win back their old audiences, but it hasn’t been easy as the music fans who attended these gigs have built up patterns of alternative listening. to music and had also found new ways to have fun.
This, combined with the economic difficulties, has been one of the main factors deterring fans from attending concerts now.
Low attendance at shows has annoyed many musicians, especially when a band travels hundreds of miles to a venue where their gig was advertised and ends up not performing due to poor logistics in the venue. organized by the promoters of the show.
This is, I am told, what happened at the Jah Prayzah show in Gweru on September 30th. Mbazo Entertainment, the promoters of the show, reportedly failed to provide an adequate sound system and Jah Prayzah decided to cancel his performance.
There were hundreds of fans at the venue but unfortunately Jah Prayzah’s performance did not take place.
For many fans who had come in for a good time, the news initially felt like a drop in an increasingly miserable bucket filled with disappointments. But Jah Prayzah’s statement explaining the canceled performance signaled even tougher struggles for touring artists on the horizon.
The statement pointed out that the stage, which was set up by the promoter, was not for a performance by JP as it was too small for his big band and the sound system was poor, causing it to made it unsuitable for his performance.
Two opening acts, Dadza D and Poptain had played over an inaudible sound system which caused Jah Prayzah to decide that he would not play over such an inadequate sound system.
“The sound system was well outside the range of specs we had agreed upon as music lovers struggled with the audibility of artists performing on stage. The performance of a band as large as ours with such a equipment was not possible,” says Jah Prayzah.
For casual music fans unaware of the financial and perpetually rusty nuts and bolts of the music industry, the news that Jah Prayzah wasn’t performing must have been shocking.
They started throwing missiles and empty beer bottles onto the stage.
Such skirmishes over obvious truths – in particular, that the music industry has failed to provide artists with a viable and safe method of performing live without discrediting themselves – are frustrating but, when adopting a large-scale view of the general, comprehensible societal landscape.
There were, however, a few critics who faulted Jah Prayzah for not performing. I suspect it was the people who launched missiles on stage.
However, shaming artists when they advocate for themselves situations that prohibit them from performing or for better fees is one of the worst socially normalized things in the industry.
Paradoxically, a professional ritual that Jah Prayzah went through was to publicly explain to his audience the reason for his non-performance. At least it had nothing to do with the increasingly untenable situation of post-Covidtouring life in general.
Tensions in the general fabric of society have been running high for a few years now, and the pandemic has only further laid bare the common truth that many people are struggling with health issues.
Amid the misery of the peak of the pandemic, it was hoped that effectively shutting down the touring industry would allow the music industry itself to address the myriad issues that musicians face while trying to earn their living. life on the road.
That obviously didn’t happen, and as artists continue to struggle at all levels of the touring ecosystem, there’s widespread questioning whether it’s all worth it.
The relaxation of Covid-19 regulations has not made it easier for struggling musicians. Many workers were laid off from their jobs between 2020 and 2022. This resulted in a loss of income for those people who used to have money in reserve to attend concerts.
Asked how Covid-19 is affecting attendance at music concerts, music bettor Eunice Samuriwo replied:
“People, especially young people in Zimbabwe, miss going out, partying and having fun, but unfortunately most of them are unemployed.
Therefore, they don’t have the money to do all these things. Additionally, a lockdown that began in March 2020 effectively shut down all gigs. We had nowhere to go except to stay indoors.
Even though restrictions eased somewhat from May this year, many people felt locked in. Now we are unable to know where our country is going because we have no money to enjoy these things again.
In a related interview, established music producer Mono Mukundu, who once worked as lead guitarist for Dr Oliver Mtukudzi and is also the founder and director of Monolio Studios, said that over the past 24 months he has never there was no work for him.
“The activity of music studios has decreased. The ripple effect of Covid-19 is that artists cannot find work. They can’t afford the studio,” he said.
Besides suffering from the economic recession, the lack of alternatives to selling their creative work also hits them below the belt.
While few artists have been able to make money selling their songs online, the majority of them don’t even know how to go about doing business.
Just a few hours after the release of a song or an album; they are pirated and sold in defiance of copyright laws.
“Zimbabweans haven’t yet prepared themselves to buy music online, so at the moment it’s nothing out of the ordinary. Piracy is killing our industry,” Mukundu said.
Yes, indeed, the Covid-19 affects the entire music industry.
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