Rwanda, like the rest of the world, has seen several people lose jobs and some businesses shut down due to the pandemic.
The creative industry is among the sectors most hit by the pandemic after all concerts and entertainment events were banned since March last year.
This came as a huge setback for local musicians, DJs and comedians among other artists who depend on performances from concerts and other entertainment events.
Eventually, many artistes began to think of alternative means to make a living and adapt to life during the pandemic.
It’s during the pandemic when King James, for instance, started to extend his business beyond just the supermarket that he has been running for the past two years.
He told The New Times that the pandemic gave him ample time to focus on and expand his business to a factory that processes maize flour.
“I had the idea in mind even before the pandemic but I implemented it during the pandemic. Though I kept recording songs, the pandemic however, has accorded enough time for my business because there are no concerts” he said.
Musically, the pandemic didn’t stop King James from recording more songs and entertaining their supporters through his new releases like ‘Poupette’, ‘Bikurimo’, a collaboration which features producer Zizou Alpacino and his latest ‘Ndagukumbuye’, which features rising female artiste Ariel Wayz.
However, like other artistes, the singer has been struggling to earn from his music after concerts and other entertainment events were banned since the first case of Covid-19 was reported in Rwanda in March last year.
He was only able to perform at virtual concerts including the Iwacu Muzika Festival and Heroes Day celebrations. He is currently working on new strategies through which he can sell his music without depending on performances.
“We can’t perform at concerts because they are banned due to the pandemic. But we are still going to studios to record songs.
All players in the creative industry need to start thinking of alternatives to making an income out of their artistic works in case there are no events. I think this pandemic taught us a lesson, as artistes, to desist from expect money merely from concerts but also be able to create more business alternatives from our music,” he said.
Apart from King James, singer Danny Vumbi runs a motel business in Musanze while rapper Ama G The Black resorted to his other field of experise, fridge maintenance.
Emmanuel Klapton Mugisha, commonly known as Kibonge, shared that he decided to take all his content online so that his fans could follow his comedy and films.
In May, a few days after Rwanda’s first lockdown, Mugisha immediately started a film series ‘Umuturanyi’ that garnered good viewership on his YouTube channel.
He was also able to sign new comedians under his management, Daymakers Edutainment, and they successfully earned their fame throughout the pandemic.
“My focus is now on my film. I can’t make money directly from comedy that I post on social media, but it’s an opportunity to advertise for companies because they believe I am able to attract the attention of many people. Whatever I am doing to earn a living, I don’t go beyond my profession and that’s why I am putting focus on film because it makes money,” he said.
DJs relocate their decks
For nearly a year now, all clubs across the country have been closed to contain the spread of Covid-19. Deejays like club owners have been affected given that every club in town hires its exclusive DJ to entertain their clients.
In the beginning, most of the DJs took their decks online so their fans can dance to their music live on social media.
They however, wasn’t sustainable as only a small number of their audience was willing to support them financially.
They were eventually left with no choice but make radio or TV stations their new home as they were hired as exclusive DJs.
DJ Diallo, for instance, is now a DJ at Isibo TV, DJ Fla at TV10, Selkta Copain and DJ Brianne (both Royal FM) while an increase of entertainment talk shows at Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA), saw the likes of DJ Klean (RTV), DJ Rugamba, DJ Sonia and DJ RY (all at Magic FM), make moves to the state broadcaster to keep people entertained while staying at home.