Distell leads the way in supporting the local entertainment industry

Darren Sandras, director, and co-owner of entertainment marketing and communications agency One-eyed Jack knows just how devastating the effect of the COVID 19 Lockdown has been on the local entertainment industry.

‘It breaks my heart to see how badly the entertainment industry has been hit. When all gatherings were prohibited and events, festivals, concerts, and the like were cancelled or postponed, we really saw just how far-reaching job creation in the industry goes.

Thousands of people are employed across the industry, many of them paid per event. With no events, they don’t get paid, ’he says. ‘The challenge is that with a ban on large gatherings, our industry can’t do what it does. Opportunities lie in creativity and technology and how we merge these two to make for new and interesting ways of bringing shows and events to people.’

With attendance capacity at live events strictly limited, for now, live streaming or a hybrid of both looks to be the way of the foreseeable future, and local artists and bands like Good Luck, Nasty C and Arno Carstens, are among those who have successfully live-streamed their shows over the past months – with the National Arts Festival the first large-scale event to go fully digital in July this year.

According to research conducted by Steve Cuzen, chief operating officer at online ticketing company Howler, the COVID 19 pandemic has resulted in a 40% increase in online streaming of events. He says, among the trends they spotted were that live music and entertainment were top of the stream charts, along with online education. This means there is an audience out there. The question is – with unemployment rates now the highest they have ever been, and people counting every cent, how many people can afford to pay the ticket price to live-stream their favourite musicians rocking it out on the Big Screen? And if they can, how often are they doing this?

‘This is where Business needs to step in’ says Sholto Sims, Regional General Manager for Distell – South Africa and Africa’s leading producer and marketer of wines, spirits, ciders, and other ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages. ‘Our entertainers, producers, and production crews need to feed themselves and their families, and sponsored free-to-air platforms can create consistent revenue-generating opportunities to assist them.’

And he should know.

Sims is the driving force behind the Distell E-Stream initiative that was launched in April 2020, shortly after the onset of the COVID 19 Lockdown, to provide free quality at-home entertainment to South Africans who were starting to feel the economic and social impact of the global pandemic. Six months down the line, this live-stream show series continues to support the local entertainment industry, providing much-needed income for performers, production teams, and other industry role players. It’s the only consistent free-to-air streaming initiative in South Africa of this kind and of this magnitude.

According to Sims the Distell E-Stream initiative currently employs 52 people per month. ‘ It also makes good business sense as we reach over 200 000 people per month through the E-Stream platform on Facebook, and the other livestream platforms we utilize – like Youtube, MixCloud, and the SA Music Library App. In addition, this campaign reaches between 400 000 and 450 000 people per month through the social media and digital platforms of the participating artists.’

He attributes much of the success of this initiative to radio partnerships with Cape-based radio stations Good Hope FM and Heart FM that have been instrumental in getting the word out and keeping the vibe going.

Popular Heart FM radio personality and MC Tyrone Paulsen says he and his team are proud to be part of the Distell E-Stream initiative. ‘There’s no doubt that this platform has carried many people through these months of crisis. It’s also great that the show series content extends beyond music to encompass cooking shows, comedy, and interactive industry discussions, with the idea of encouraging support among artists and production teams. It’s been rewarding to see this come to life.’

From October onwards these monthly events take place over two days each month, with the most recent shows – the Hunter’s Chilled and Savanna Angry Lemon parties – live-streamed on 9 and 10 October.

All E-stream shows can be viewed online at www.facebook.com/estreamcpt/

Alternatively, download the SA Music Library app from the Play Store or App Store. Look out for the YouTube and Mix Cloud links on the E-Stream CPT Facebook page at estreamcpt. These are activated an hour prior to each show. To be part of the conversation during the shows follow E-Stream CPT on Instagram at @estreamcpt; or on Facebook @estreamcpt.

For further information about upcoming live stream shows visit: www.facebook.com/estreamcpt/ or www.distell.co.za/newsroom/

*Comment by Darren Sandras and Steve Cuzen from Bizcommunity.com

The Distell team supports responsible drinking and encourages all South Africans to go slow, stay safe, and consume alcohol responsibly, wherever they may be. Alcohol Not for sale to Persons under the age of 18 years.

Sholto Sims, Regional General Manager, Distell