How Virtual Shows Are Keeping Puerto Rico’s Concert Industry Alive

Puerto Rico Concerts Industry

Image Courtesy of Coliseo de Puerto Rico

By Mivette Vega

May 25, 2020

The venue’s first live-streaming event boasted half-a-million views during the broadcast and has more than 3.2 million views on YouTube.

San Juan — The entertainment industry is finding creative ways to keep moving forward as large gatherings won’t be taking place in the near future due to social distancing.

The Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot, the largest venue on the island, is working on a new concept that will allow artists of many musical genres, production crews, producers, and employees to be able to work after more than two months of a lockdown.

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“The main concern for me is our team on unpaid leave. Some have unemployment benefits, others do not,” said the general manager of the Coliseo aka “Choliseo”, Eduardo Cajina, adding, “there are many technicians in the industry who have been working here for many years. I was worried there would be a lot of people out of work. We had to find a creative way to start doing something.”

The first event took place last week with a concert by urban artist Rauw Alejandro. The “reguetonero” presented his show to an empty venue. His mom was the only person in the audience.

The concert was shown live on YouTube and reached almost a half-million viewers from different countries during the live transmission. The video already has more than 3.2 million views. 

“I see this as a total success in all areas. The reception was incredible. And that is very important because, without viewers, there wouldn’t be any more [concerts]. What happens before [the show], is also a success. When doing this type of event, it is not necessary that we prepare for an audience in attendance. The broadcast requires us to work with a small team, and the staging was worked step by step. Everything was executed as planned,” said Cajina.

The manager is planning on presenting a weekly concert. Cajina is already discussing with producers to put together a calendar of events. He anticipated the venue is negotiating events for children, a tropical music concert, a stand-up comedy show, and live tv shows.

“I always say that Puerto Rico is a blessed country because we have the talent to spare in all areas. In sports, in different music genres, in theater. We could fill the calendar for a whole year featuring local talent only. And I am not only referring to the Coliseo, but also to the different venues that we have, such as the Centro de Convenciones, the Centro de Bellas Artes, the new Coca-Cola Music Hall. I think there is enough talent here to keep the industry going at a healthy level.”

Cajina is aware that none of these events will replace the experience of a live concert. They do fulfill a mission during the pandemic, where people look for entertainment from their homes. He mentioned how people got dressed up to see Rauw Alejandro’s concert at home. Cajina expressed his admiration for the artists, who have to make a concerted effort to perform without an audience.

The manager concluded that when more flexible social distancing rules go into effect, the “Choliseo” will prepare by taking the proper measures to entertain attending audiences as the rules permit.

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