Erykah Badu wants her fans who are socially distancing to stay close to her music, so the R&B songstress decided to innovate and came up with the “Quarantine Concert Series” as the latest in her string of ideas.
When the coronavirus first began to spread across the U.S., Badu launched a streamable interactive music experience shot in her bedroom. The first installment, “Apocalypse One,” rolled out on March 23. Her enterprise has since spawned two more livestream concerts, “Apocalypse Two,”and her forthcoming “Apocalypse Three,” this Sunday (April 19).
Ahead of Sunday’s night show, Badu spoke to Variety about her brainchild. “I’ve toured eight months out of the year for the past 22 years, and it’s how I make my living and support my band and my techs and my crew,” she said, adding “I’d never seen a world where I couldn’t perform.”
Like many other artists, she set her sights on the digital landscape since live shows were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I wanted to create a livestreamed interactive experience that had the same integrity, ingenuity, creativity and technical aspects of my live shows because I had to charge something: This was gonna be pretty expensive to bring in techs and engineers and musicians to my house, and I found out I didn’t have enough broadband,” she explained.
“When you’re doing something live, you’re creating a moment, and I wanted the audience to feel like their dollar not only got them into the show, but they also got to help create the moment by choosing what song I did next. It was so very important to me that that was a part of the experience."
Badu admitted that she hasn’t made much of a profit from her quarantine concerts, but she’s treating it as “learning experience” to expand her creativity. She’s already thinking ahead for another experience to launch once her “Apocalypse” series concludes that might combine “music, drama, [and] comedy.”
Likening herself to an “accidental Harriet Tubman in the streets,” Erykah told Variety the experience has inspired her to start her own livestream company once the world gets back to normal. “It’s all creativity — even creating the business model was creative for me,” she elaborated. “Becoming a tech entrepreneur is a little different from what I’ve done in the past, but I can do it. And I have proof of concept.”
(Photo: Brian Killian/WireImage)