In its first ever virtual show, Jamaica’s annual Reggae Sumfest racked up over 3 million views for the show’s two days, exceeding the expectations of the organizers.
The festival took place virtually on July 24 and 25, due to the constraints of COVID-19.
Executive producer Joe Bogdanovich, chairman and CEO of Downsound Entertainment, said the global response was one that he never saw coming.
“Regarding viewership, the results of the festival streaming broke all records we know of. Between July 24-26, Facebook had 632,000 views, YouTube 1,642,000, Instagram 860,000, totalling 3,134,000 views. When you add global viewing parties, you get an estimated viewing total of 3,448,390 – 3,761,880 for the festival time window”, he announced.
Other impressive metrics reported between July 24-26 include The Reggae Sumfest Youtube channel having 275,000 unique individual viewers, and picking up 18,000 new subscribers, Instagram visits of 393,621, and picking up 47,400 new followers, and all of the performing artists showing social media follower gains of 1,000–10,000.
Even though the festival was held online, numerous employment opportunities were created for residents. Bogdanovich noted that the project was completed in a record time of three weeks by an all-Jamaican team.
“The partnership with Facebook was a monumental one as DSE created history as the first in the Caribbean country to do a virtual festival. The decision to include Instagram and YouTube as streaming platforms created a blockbuster. All three platforms showcased the all-Jamaican line-up, produced by an all-Jamaican team to rave reviews,” Bogdanovich said.
All throughout the COVID-19 period, Jamaicans have kept the entertainment industry alive with virtual productions like #BigParOnline and even the historic Verzuz battle between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer. As some semblance of normalcy returns, industry stakeholders have been encouraged to take this as one of the major lessons from the coronavirus pandemic: adapt to the new digital world or get left behind.