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Urban Sessions 2020 livestreams over 150 concerts throughout lockdown

Urban Sessions 2020 livestreams over 150 concerts throughout lockdown

Urban Sessions 2020 livestreams over 150 concerts throughout lockdown

South Africa:

With South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown in full force, Urban Sessions 2020 was created to enable musicians to live-stream concerts to their fans. A joint project by Militia Broadcast, technical supplier Stage Effects and Smack Entertainment for audio, resulted in the creation of a dedicated studio, that has already played host to over 150 performances to date.

Back in May 2020, the trio were able to secure an empty warehouse at Thabo Mpelo Studios in Johannesburg and converted it into an intimate environment with a nostalgic feel – giving viewers at home the impression that they were part of a rehearsal or jamming session – with rugs, ambient lighting and five cameras set up in 180° to capture close-ups of the musicians. Choosing lighting that would need the least amount of maintenance, Stage Effects’ Erik de Bruin opted for LED-based fixtures, including 15 Robe Robin 600+, five Robe Pointes, 15 Mac Quantum Profiles, 12 Portman P1 retro lamps and Elation DTW 1000s bars with control on a grandMA2 light.

Under normal circumstances de Bruin, an active lighting designer, would be on the road with festivals and music concerts. Now based in the same location, week in and week out, from Wednesdays to Sundays, he and the team have changed the set several times to keep it looking fresh and new. He has also invited some of his lighting operator friends, including Marius Coetzee and Ethan Benjamin, to come over, play on the control desk and light some of the performances.

Marius Coetzee, Erik de Bruin and Duncan Riley
Marius Coetzee, Erik de Bruin and Duncan Riley

The Urban Sessions 2020 projects works as a revenue swap. Artists are invited to perform in the professional space at Thabo Mpelo Studios. Tickets to watch the livestream are sold, while there is also an option to purchase a View on Demand (VoD) ticket to watch anytime, for those who missed the live stream. Ticket sales are split, with 50% going to the artist and the remaining 50% divided amongst the Urban Sessions team, which encompasses camera operators to tech suppliers.

“It has given us a lot of encouragement and hearing the positive comments and creating an archive of stunning video productions, has made it worthwhile,” said de Bruin. “From rock and roll to jazz, any band is welcome to join us. It’s great to see that South Africa has die-hard followers who want to see the show and support the artist, it’s really cool from their side.

Singer Jacques Moolman at Urban Sessions 2020
Singer Jacques Moolman at Urban Sessions 2020

Besides promoting the various shows on our social media pages, we leave the marketing up to each artist, and it gives them the opportunity to realise who their fan base is and to communicate directly with them,” he added. “Because it’s not just a paying gig, they also make an effort and push really hard to earn some bread and promote their online event. We have tried to create as much content as possible, to show people that something is happening, even during these Covid-19 times, and to try to give hope. We want people to know that there is still a music industry out there and because Stage Effects comes from a music and festival background, we need and rely on the artists.”

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