BWW Interview: Osman Osman: THE COMEBACK IS STRONGER THAN THE SETBACK. Blu Blood, a South African and Middle East Entertainment Company
BWW: As a full-time entertainment executive, how has this pandemic affected your day-to-day working life?
Osman: Entertainment has always been reliant on gatherings in order to be a success. With us following the patterns globally and monitoring how countries were reacting to the pandemic with our business, we needed to have plans in place to ensure that the right processes were being followed. One thing the pandemic has taught us is that doing things virtually now makes sense as part of a new reality.
BWW: What other factors, apart from the pandemic, have influenced the entertainment industry in South Africa recently
Osman: We have been dealing with a slowdown in the economy, load shedding, and people holding on to their disposable income. Our shows were selling out but at the very last minute. There was a lot more variety to choose from and many people spending money becoming energy self-sufficient.
BWW: What impact will our current situation have on the future of theatre, film, and television?
Osman: The entertainment industry will restart slowly. We are not going to see large audiences, as people try to recover financially. Television and film will have a huge upswing with people choosing to stay home and entertain themselves including via online services.
BWW: What are the alternatives to 'live' events for artists- how realistic is the idea of online events?
Osman: Artists are now seeing that they can monetize their online performances while people to stay at home. People are still looking for content to keep themselves entertained and for one ticket an entire household can be part of the event, allowing people to start supporting their favorite acts.
BWW: How do you see the entertainment industry recovering, over the short (3 months), medium (3-6 months), and long term (plus 6 months)?
Osman: In the short term there will be a two-part approach in marketing events. You will have to address safety concerns and once we get past that, I think the audiences will start growing but it will definitely not return to the capacities that it was for the next 12-18 months. People still want entertainment and hopefully, as we understand how to live with Covid-19, the audiences will start making their way back to normal life.
BWW: How do you see an easing of restrictions changing the live entertainment scene?
Osman: In the coming months I think people are going to be more conscious of the environment. That is key. You are going to start seeing socially distanced events with people adapting to new floor plans and the artist adapting to the new reality of what audiences are.
BWW: What tips do you have for companies, musicians, and other live artists who depend on the audience's feedback, as far as their artistic process is concerned?
Osman: We can look at soccer leagues which have started with no spectators, use that experience in digital performances, and gradually build to having live performances with restrictions. Artists and musicians need to adapt very quickly to reality. Some artists who are using online platforms are bringing in a digital audience so that they can see the reactions and hear them, which they are dependent on. Similarly, the musical aspect of online shows is proving to be difficult as the reality is if the artist wants his band to be part of the digital event they have to be together in the same environment, so doing pre-recording and then hosting them might be a way for musicians.
BWW: Have you noticed some international trends that have reacted to the situation?
Osman: Yes, countries, promoters, entertainers, and artists are adapting to what seems to be a new reality. Music festivals have been held as a drive-through concept. Theatres are allowing audiences to a 10/20% capacity. This obviously means a higher ticket charge but does allow you to see the performance live. I think as we understand more and more every day in terms of the pandemic, more ideas are coming together to start the industry again.
BWW: And to end on a more personal note, how are you keeping busy during lock-down?
Osman: I think it started off with going into a panic and realizing that this is a reality and trying to ensure that we will still be able to move on. Now it is more about self-focus and determination in order to ensure that we adjust to this. I believe the comeback is always stronger than the setback.