The South African music industry is finding creative ways to deal with the lockdown. Before the lockdown started, Texx and the City, a popular South African music news podcast, wrote an article about how fans can support musicians during the COVID – 19 lockdown, which dozens of musicians and bands showed love for on Instagram. Since then the musicians themselves have been coming up with innovative ways to support themselves and entertain others during the lockdown.

On 31 March, Arno Carstens put on a livestream on YouTube, all fans had to do was buy a ticket and they were emailed or SMSed a private video link from which they could live stream the concert. The National Arts Festival (NAF) has announced that the entire festival will be held online to continue supporting artists. Bloemfontein’s OFM radio station has made plans to support South African musicians and bands during this time by committing to play more South African music so that musicians can get more royalties. Black Coffee has started live stream sessions in order to raise money for the Solidarity Fund. YouTube launched a new online music festival called Stay Home#WithMe, which features African artists, mostly from Nigeria and South Africa, performing in the festival via live streams.


…musicians themselves have been coming up with innovative ways to support themselves and entertain others during the lockdown


The online festival kicked off on 27 March. TikTok has started #AtHomeWithMe that features South African artists doing at-home performances for fans, one of them being Cassper Nyovest. Musicians are trying to ‘work from home’ which is harder for them than most, so live streams are one of the only ways they can support themselves. On the international front, many celebrities are also finding ways to deal with quarantine as a large chunk of the world’s population is staying at home. Music can come from unexpected places, as Gal Gadot, most known for her leading role in Wonder Woman (2017), posted a video of her along with other celebrities singing “Imagine” by John Lennon on 19 March. Will Ferrell, Natalie Portman, Mark Ruffalo, James Marsden and a slew of other celebrities were featured in the 3-minute Instagram video, at the beginning of which she explains the inspiration and message behind the project. It was, however, received poorly by the general public as people were questioning how it was helping the ongoing situation, and consequently became a meme soon after it was posted.

Another quarantined celebrity decided to dip their toes into unfamiliar musical territory. Although no stranger to the art of music, Will Smith tried his hand at a genre known as LoFi, posting an hour and a half long video titled “chill beats to quarantine to” on his YouTube channel on 20 March. The visuals of the video take heavy inspiration from the most popular Lofi YouTube channel, ChilledCow, depicting a cartoon Will Smith wearing headphones and writing in a notebook with a cat laying on the windowsill. Not one to be left out, rapper Drake released a new song titled “Toosie Slide”, accompanied by visuals of him dancing in his newly built Toronto mansion. Posted on 3 April, the video begins by showing the empty and quiet city streets, gives a brief tour of his gargantuan home, and concludes with a New Year’s worthy fireworks display.


Illustration: Sanele Zulu


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