Coliseo de Puerto Rico Preps First Post-Covid Show With Rauw Alejandro

Rauw Alejandro
Kevin Figueroa

Rauw Alejandro

Here's how a major arena opened its doors for a livestream show -- with no audience.

For perhaps the first time since the COVID-19 lockdown went into effect globally, a large venue will host a live concert, albeit one without an audience.

Puerto Rico’s Coliseo de Puerto Rico (full name Coliseo José Miguel Agrelot), the island’s biggest venue with a capacity of up to 18,500, will open its stage Saturday night (May 16)  for a livestream by rising urban star Rauw Alejandro.

Alejandro will perform a one-hour show with his three-man band and elaborate staging, lighting and even pyrotechnics. The concert will be livestreamed on his YouTube channel at 9 p.m.  If everything goes without a hitch, the show will serve as a blueprint for future livestreams or recordings that can benefit from the infrastructure of a large venue even if there is no audience.

Organizers of the Alejandro show are billing it as the first in a “Quarantine Live Concert Series” sponsored by Warner Chappell and Coliseo de Puerto Rico that will feature live performances through the end of the month.

“It’s a way to break the ice and reactive things,” says Eduardo Cajina, general manager of Coliseo de Puerto Rico. “We’re hoping more artists are interested and give work to people who lost their jobs, like stage hands. These are baby steps.”

The notion of opening up the coliseum for a livestream came from Cajina and Eric Duars, CEO of Duars Entertainment, who manages Alejandro.

“Rauw had been asked to perform a livestream by several different platforms,” Duars says. “But because Rauw is a dancer, we wanted to do a show where he could highlight that. Then, Eduardo Cajina called me out of the blue and said he was exploring the possibility of opening up the coliseum to tape certain things.”

Duars asked if it would be possible to bring in a full production inside. Cajina got clearance from the Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority, which oversees the coliseum, and ASM Global, the venue and event management company that manages it.

The coliseum, closed since March 16, underwent a deep cleaning.  A series of “strict” safety and security protocols were established following both CDC and ASM global standards and were approved by the government. The set up for the show, for example, was spread out in stages over several days to ensure there were never too many people inside the venue.

“Each Company we used had to submit a security protocol,” says Duar, who’s been putting the show together for the past two weeks. Musicians will play with face masks and Alejandro will dance alone, with no additional dancers.

In terms of production, says Duar, fans will be able to see everything they would get in a regular Rauw Alejandro show, with pyrotechnics, lighting and four camera angles.

“For the fan, it will be like having a VIP seat,” he says.

In terms of revenue, there will likely not be much, save for monetization from YouTube, which has been supporting Duar and will help promote the show. But, add both Duar and Cajina, making money wasn’t the point.  The coliseum, for example, has to charge Duar for the operating costs, but it won’t make money beyond that.

“We’re looking to recover the costs,” Cajina says. “We’re in no position to charge our normal rental fees and right now, that’s not the priority. The priority is helping each other as an industry and as professionals, as much as we can. Of course, health and safety are the priority. That’s non negotiable.” In terms of the actual production, Duar is eating those costs.

“It was my and Rauw’s decision,” Duar says. “Rauw had had a great year. His numbers have grown, his fans have grown. We had interest from sponsors, but we didn’t want this to look like a commercial presentation full of logos. We wanted this to be a show by Rauw for his fans. Our job is to invest in our artist. Rauw had played big venues but never the Coliseo.”

"Every Puerto Rican artist dreams of singing in El Choli, more than winning a Grammy," Alejandro says. "It's a magical and unique place."

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