Innovation In The Time of Social Distancing

Social distancing, one of the measures suggested by the World Health Organisation as a way to delay the infection rate of the highly contagious novel virus Covid-19, has completely disrupted our way of life. Social distancing means limiting the freedom of movement and human contact in an effort to limit human to human spread of the virus and its impact on the health system.

This includes the prohibition of gatherings with over 100 people, an end to non-essential travel, and a ban of alcohol sales after 6pm weekdays and 1pm weekends amongst other measures.

Although these measures impact all industries, the entertainment and hospitality sectors are hardest hit. For entertainers, this means no gigs, no performances and no performance income for the foreseeable future.

With the first open weekend with discouraged socialisation and no bookings for all industry, Black Coffee announced a live streamed performance for Friday the 20th. The live stream saw Black Coffee reach over 50 000 viewers during the three hour marathon set.

On Saturday evening, DJs Shimza and Maphorisa hosted a #QuarantineOnlineParty with a line-up that included DJ Zinhle, pH, Black Motion and Kabza de Small. This live stream reached over 100k viewers over the five hour stream.

Travel content creator Lelo Boyana created a travel virtual chat with like minded travellers to chat about how they’re coping with the travel restrictions and creating a platform for the passport gang community to engage in a fun and interesting way.

None of this might be innovative, but the foresight to pivot to the use of existing technology to reach audiences as a pivot from live performance during the restrictions should be applauded.

For a collectivist and social society like South Africa, creating platforms that enable a sense of community and belonging in the same way that social media does goes a long way. Who would’ve thought we could experience some of the best talent and music SA has to offer during the time of social distancing and isolation?

The internet’s ability to connect us from anywhere in the world, is a benefit we shouldn’t underestimate, and music is already leading the way. From John Legend’s Instagram concert, Trevor Noah’s Daily Show hosted from his couch, to your favourite DJ blazing your living room, the internet is an opportune escape.

This is an opportunity to find new ways to connect with and deliver content to your tribe.

Now for Skhumba or someone funnier to give us a live comedy sit-down… Just a thought.

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