(BY DAWIT ENDESHAW FORTUNE STAFF WRITER) It started as a social media campaign, with a number of posts said to emerge mainly on Facebook, calling for a boycott on a number of concerts to be held by singers for Ethiopian New Year. The campaign rationalised its boycott to the current unrest in some parts of the Amhara and Oromia states, where “many” civilians are said to have been killed and arrested by security forces.So, the Facebook boycott campaigners argue that it is immoral to have a music festival in such a situation. Some singers, who spoke with Fortune on the basis on anonymity, say the campaign has affected them.
This campaign has in fact forced many performers in and outside the country to cancel their concerts. It has cost promoters, music bands and the individual singers millions. Close to seven concerts in and outside the capital were cancelled – not to mention those in Europe, the US and the Middle East.
“It is not like everyone who is cancelling their concert believes in the above argument,” said an industry source also affected because of the cancellation of their concert.
He, whose name is withheld upon request, said that his band, which was to host a major concert in the capital, has lost close to 100,000Br.
“It doesn’t make any difference whatever rationale they put out,” said the same source. “This is our job.”
Some of the artists have also decided to cancel their concert so as not to collide with the Diaspora community, as they believe that the push is coming from them.
Another big concert that is said to have been cancelled is the one at Ghion Hotel. The concert, organised by Eyoha Promotion, was planned to host Beruktawit Getahun aka Betty G, and Abdu Kiar. The promotion company behind the concert has been promoting the concert through a number of outlets, including billboards.
Abdu Kiar, as a performer, has also suffered from another cancellation of a concert that was planned to be held in Israel, on September 15, 2016.
Sources close to the organising of the concert told Fortune that the two singers were to be paid between 150,000 to 200,000Br.
Another singer, who wants to remain anonymous, estimated that the bigger concerts, like the one organised by Eyoha, would briny at least 300,000 Br lose.
He shared an experience where he himself was forced to cancel a small music show along with other performers.
“Ours was not that big,” he said. “We lost around 70,000Br due to the cancellation.”
This loss does not include advance payments for the performers.
“It all started from threats, insults and bullying made as comments on Facebook,” he explains. “So, we fear that this might erode our reputation as a performer.”
Eyoha Promotion is also know for its involvement in organising a number of entertainment activities, including exhibitions.
Another concert that was targeted by the bullying mob on social media was the one organised by Aurora Productions. The concert was supposed to host four internationally acclaimed singers, as well as Lej Michael, a raising Ethiopian musician. Later, Lej Michael withdrew himself from the concert because of the same reason as many of the artists.
“Most of them fear being singled out from the crowd and fear for their reputation,” Shewit Betew, CEO of Aurora, told Fortune.
Aurora has been negotiating with the four international artists for the past six months, in order to convince them to come and perform.
“We invested a million birr into it,” said Shewit. “And it is not fair to lose it in such a way.”
The impact of the push from social media did not only affect concerts in the New Year, rather it went on to affect events planned for the Mesqel Holiday, to be held in two weeks time, too.
Some of the organisers that planned for Mesqel are now contemplating cancelling their shows.
On the other hand, some of the Diaspora-based singers have publicly announced that they have cancelled their concerts given the unrest in the country. Abiy Lakew, Fasil Demoz, Ephrem Tameru, Haile Roots and Johnny Raga are some of those to have cancelled their concerts.
The impact of social media throughout the unrest over the past few months has been immense. Its impact on the overall information dissemination, for better or worse, has been huge.
It was also instrumental in sharing information, both authentic and made up.
Social media also continues to be abused by bullying people, who threaten families and individuals that are believed to have certain affiliations.