THE DAUNTING SHADOWS OF COVID-19 ON BUSINESSES SURROUNDING MUSIC
7 MONTHS AGOFor almost a year now, the world had suffered through long reaching social, economic and political effects of living in a time of a pandemic. Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19 started its destructive journey from China, it went through each corner of the world devastating countries at various levels of development. Businesses that range from small ventures to some of the big corporates, needleless to say, are among those who had to endure the worst economic trauma of this coronavirus pandemic. It is thus a well-established and unfortunate fact that the music industry and businesses surrounding it come to the forefront of this list as several aspects of it came to a sudden halt not long after news of Covid-19 broke. Throughout the globe, giant music festivals got cancelled, concerts, eagerly awaited music tours and annually hosted live shows had to suffer the same ill-fated consequences. When it comes to concerts, artists such as Justin Bieber, Harry Styles, The Weekend, Bob Dylan, Hayley Williams, Taylor Swift, Shania Twain, Luke Bryan, Camila Cabello, Kelly Clarkson, Avril Lavigne, Ciara, Madonna, Mariah Carey and Alicia Keys are among international artists who have cancelled or pushed back some highly anticipated concerts. With regard to festivals, MTV Video Music Awards, Film Independent Spirit Awards, academy awards, BAFTAs, Academy of Country Music Awards, Eurovision Song Contest, Billboard Music Awards, iHeartRadio Music Awards, Tomorrow-land Music Festival have all devastated worldwide fans with cancelations as well as newly adopted means of transmission. It is to be recalled that even the Summer Olympics was cancelled in what is a first for the first time since World War II. Many African music artists are also said to have been impacted especially due to cancelations in Europe where they made huge returns. They have reportedly had to take a loss for concert dates scheduled between March and September 2020, with no guarantee that they will be able to resume their European tours later this year. Several African reports disclosed that closed borders are depriving musicians of a significant portion of their income, who have been struggling even before the pandemic owing to several reasons. This unfortunate affair left not only disappointed fans in its wake but also innumerable businesses whose biggest incomes depended on these concerts, shows and festivals. The Ethiopian music industry and businesses that surrounds it have also not been immune to the dark shadows of the pandemic, as the state of emergency declared shortly after the first covid-19 in Ethiopia, rendered the aspect of conducting business as usual impossible. ![text](https://awtar-website.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/ad06e224786248a981bc65a3c9b08b69.png) ABC Trading, a local Business that makes great amounts of its profit out of concerts is one of those that had to bear such horrid economic fate. Sales manager of ABC, Aleshia Girma told Awtar that, the holidays especially new year were normally a peak time in concert related businesses which have completely turned upside down this time. She has further explained that the beginnings of the pandemic in Ethiopia have had the worst effect on their business in general but through time their other ventures managed to return to status quo whereas rent of concert instruments remains at a standstill Aleshia further explained that since ABC trading is engaged in various businesses under a number of sister companies such as ABC studios, Universal and meeting point, it has managed to stay afloat. ![text](https://awtar-website.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/6d7eac34662346cd87aa1189cf5d5097.jpg) “We realize that instrument and sound system especially rental is an impossible area of business right now, all we can do is wait patiently and hope for the best” Aleshia told Awtar. She has also detailed the difficulties of maintaining a fully paid staff under such dire conditions stressing that paying salaries have at times came at grave financial costs. The reaches of covid-19 are also felt deeply in business sectors that run various kinds of photo studios. Owner of Ambassel studios Mekonen Kassahun explains some of these downsides saying that Cameramen, Djs and Décor businesses have suffered immensely. “We make our biggest profit out of weddings, and most of our clients usually come from abroad, as travel restrictions have left that impossible almost everything stooped even before covid-19 reached Ethiopia.” said Mekonen. ![text](https://awtar-website.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/81670e8ea1ac496084899a5e3a77b725.jpg) As such unlike several Ethiopian business sectors that fallen victim to the pandemic this sector has been doubly hit since its profits fell through the cracks even prior to the first case in Ethiopia. Photographers that chase daily incomes and conduct their business without the comforts of owning studios are said to be especially flop under covid19 as almost all sources of income perished. According to Mekonen such business hurdles have urged the need to ban together and help one another as the level of disaster has proved to be worse on some. “Some have taken up married life others started families depending solely on daily income of taking pictures, for them the difficulties have been more immense” This fact has accordingly led to, the establishment of a new association in the sector “Ethiopian Photographers Association” with an aim of supporting those that were hit the hardest under the pandemic. Mekonen also explained that the association is to mobilize government support which has so far been non-existent as it proved very difficult to acquire help without a united front. ![text](https://awtar-website.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/90e2fb0e859b4db4b369f37c6c58a892.jpg) Aside from expecting government help the association is said to be set on playing its part by organizing car campaigns that call for cautions against the corona virus as well as other supports expected of the profession. However, Mekonen mentioned that it is not all doom and gloom as small rays of hope are touching upon the business following the lifting of the state of emergency. He says some small wedding parties are now brewing up again. “The pandemic taught us many lessons; it mainly made me realize the need to engage in multiple sectors of business and the importance of standing together and helping each other, so I call upon all videography and photography professionals to use this new association for great things.” Mekonen stated. Jorka event Organizer is another company that had to bear covid19 conditions. In an exclusive interview with Awtar, general manager of Jorka, Aga Abate said that the company had to cancel almost more than half of the events it had planned for 2012 owing to the fact that many of their events require big gatherings. ![text](https://awtar-website.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/aa77d9da7ca3424596feff364d1a222a.png) According to the GM, a music festival involving big international reggae artists, Jorka fest: the annual food and beverage festival, as well as international exhibitions are among the biggest events that were forced into cancelation. When it comes to government support in pulling such companies out of the gutter, Aga says government remains insensible to the sector “ I do not even think that the government knows of us, no education whatsoever is provided in the field of event organizing we thus did not expect much from the government” Aga asserted. However, the particular sector is said to be set on fighting such governmental ignorance as it plans on opening up schools, collaborating with other sectors such as the media to bring more attention. Aga also told Awtar that covid-19 had not only presented challenges but also some opportunities in disguise. “We are experimenting with new business ideas that we have never conducted before instead of focusing on a few big events we are now working on several different projects” says the general manger. ![text](https://awtar-website.s3.ap-south-1.amazonaws.com/70bedf09664140d0a692277f2f06738f.jpg) With regard to making a comeback in the post state of emergency period Aga explains that Jorka plans to work on a more gradual change than springing up a full blown concert. Accordingly, the event organizer in collaboration with Kana television plans to broadcast a two-hour TV program for the Meskel holiday dedicated to recognizing Ethiopian musicians. “Our plan is to start out with events we can broadcast and generally adapt to innovative, time sensitive and improved business ideas” Aga told Awtar.