Nothing can equal the magic that comes between a live performer and the audience watching. But in our current world where gatherings are not just discouraged but can mean real trouble, both sides have to make do with the next best thing.
A few days ago I joined a presser for The L.O.V.E Project, the acronym standing for Live On-request Virtual Entertainment, which according to its initiator Resorts World Manila (RWM), aims to help its regular performers and other partner artists “to continue their livelihood despite the current COVID-19 situation in the country.” It is an online platform allowing “interested patrons to book and pay for online live performances via livestream.” The gig format may come in various forms such as mini-concert, dance performance, date night serenade, and the like.
To make it even simpler arithmetic, a booker will spend as low as P600 to enjoy a 15-minute exclusive live performance viewable by way of whatever gadget and app available to see the performer. The artists, it adds, “will be directly corresponding to those who will book upon paying via bank transfer, GCash, or remittance.”
RWM’s current roster includes, among others, Singing Sensation’s Cris Pastor, Charlotte Fergusson, and Jasmine Fitzgerald; El Calle regulars Jay Kent, Hans Dimayuga, and Rox Puno; Grand Bar and Lounge performers Jon Joven and James Uy; ballet dancer Kim Abgrogena, vlogger and singer Julia Serad, pop-rock artist RJ Jimenez, and theater actors Lance Reblando, Jom Logdat, and Kiara Dario.
Michael Stuart Williams, co-artistic director of Full House Theater Company, emphasized that the said artists can wholly enjoy their fees in this arrangement,” clearing out, “Potential customers now have the chance to directly interact with and book the artists of their choice, without having to go through talent managers and coordinators. They can also request appropriate performances for the specific occasions they are celebrating.”
Learning about this project reminded me that a couple of weeks back, my 75-year-old father, now based in California, requested during a Zoom family gathering that I sing his favorite classic song “Boulevard” by Dan Byrd and he’d pay me. I took the challenge for fun and put out my guitar. My father being generous, I earned a few dollars equivalent to two thousand pesos. I do play as a bass player in a band and get paid in some gigs. But I can’t recall ever earning that much for a one-song solo performance.
While online performers can come everywhere and in “any wear,” booking RWM performers means dealing with world-class singers and thespians. Professionalism is a major edge that separates experienced acts from bathroom singers. Be likewise aware that apart from having to see them perform without going through traffic and other hassles of watching a live show, these artists usually feeding off energy from live stage atmosphere have to double efforts in delivering their all.
Mind you, true artists won’t ever shortchange the audience so extra internalization will go with their online performance. That's value-added.