In Mexico, Musicians — And Workers — Returning to Venues for Paid Livestreams

Pepsi Center WTC
Pedro González Castillo/LatinContent/Getty Images

Pepsi Center WTC in Mexico City, Mexico

Mexican executives are joining forces to launch an ambitious project that they hope can help revive the industry's economy.

As musicians around the world continue to experiment with livestream shows -- often offering free virtual concerts from their home while in confinement -- a new proposal in Mexico plans to take the livestream concept to the next level while creating thousands of jobs for industry workers in the process.

While the business of monetizing livestream shows is still in its developmental stages, Mexican executives, including promoters, managers and venue owners, are joining forces to launch an ambitious project that they hope would revive the industry's economy by creating more than 1,000 temporary jobs during the month of June in Mexico City and Guadalajara, Jalisco. They also hope to apply sanitary measures that can potentially set a precedent for shows post COVID-19.

The plan, called Reactivation of Entertainment and Music in Mexico (REMM), is to open two venues in June -- Pepsi Center WTC in Mexico City and Conjunto Santander de Artes Escénicas in Guadalajara -- where artists of all genres will offer concerts behind closed doors with fans watching the show via live streaming.

To access the livestream, which can be viewed globally, you'll pay for a code through the ticket sales company Accesso ShoWare priced between $3 and $5 dollars, which translates to 60 to 100 Mexican pesos per concert.

All the income generated by the sale of codes and sponsorships will be deposited to Asociación Civil MEXIMM A.C., which will manage and distribute the funds to musicians and professionals of each concert.

"The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 altered the rules of the game in the entertainment world -- it's important to recognize that," said Norma Gasca (Rock Show Entertainment), co-founder of the REMM initiative. "All areas are being affected. From security personnel, accesses and technicians, to bartenders, waiters, drivers, aides and catering. It's not just about talent, promoters and booking agencies. It's a timid next step to, based on the result, keep proposing ways until we get back to the times of live concerts."

The Mexican livestreams follow efforts in China to monetize virtual shows. In February, TAXX, one of Shanghai's biggest nightclubs, livestreamed a four-hour DJ set on China's TikTok, Douyin. The set attracted some 71,000 people and generated more than $100,000 (720,000 RMB). The next day, Beijing's SirTeen drew 1.2 million viewers and pulled in $280,000 (2 million RMB).

The idea of monetizing a livestream doesn't sound as wild as the re-opening of venues to musicians and their entire production staff, as Mexico continues to fight the spread of COVID-19. The country reported nearly 40,000 cases and almost 4,000 deaths as of May 13. According to the organizers' safety measures plan, artists and their staff will be provided with face masks, antibacterial gel and will have to stand at a distance from each other. Additionally, the venue, and all equipment, will be disinfected before and after shows.

"Is it safe? That was the first thing I asked when they asked me if I'd want to be part of the lineup," cumbia artist Pipo Rodríguez tells Billboard. "Sure we want to reactivate the industry but we have to do it carefully and not actually help spread the virus. After I heard the plan and safety measures, I was all in."

Pipo, along with his nearly 20 orchestra members and guest artist Café Tacvba's Rubén Albarrán, will perform at the Pepsi Center in Mexico City on June 13. "When I told my musicians that we were doing this, they got very excited and they're already rehearsing. The mentality going in is that we're putting on a great show and satisfy those who are wiling to pay."

Below, check out the lineup for June:

June 5: Sonido La Changa, Sonido Condor, Sonido La Conga y Sensación Caney
June 7: Fidel Nadal
June 12: Allison
June 13: Pipo Rodríguez (Ex Ángeles Azules) y Orquesta Pérez Prado, Feat Rubén Albarrán
June 19: Ese wey
June 20: Lola Club
June 21: El Haragán & Cia
June 26:  Mesoneros / Odisseo
June 27: Ruby Tates / Camilo Séptimo
June 28: Festival LGBT