Local lockdown content is lekker: New streaming service a boost for SA artists

'Loca’ comes from local, things from ekasi. Then ‘flix’ is a slang word meaning chilling.' Saxophonist Bongane Radebe talks about his new streaming platform LocaFlix.

LocaFlix co-founder Bongane Radebe. Picture: Facebook

JOHANNESBURG – “What’s good to watch?” Social media is rife with this question as people seek new and exciting in-home entertainment during the COVID-19 lockdown.

LocaFlix is a new addition to your list of platforms to stream South African content.

The streaming service is a black-owned company that was established in December 2020. The platform’s co-founder, saxophonist Bongane Radebe, said that the streaming service was born out of the necessity for new ideas after the arts industry’s dramatic drop in revenue during the pandemic.

It’s an idea he’s brought to life with businessperson Thabo Matlomatsane.

“LocaFlix is a streaming service inspired by lockdown. Not being able to make money as artists made us think that we need to create a space where artists are able to monetise their content so they can make a living,” Radebe said in a virtual interview with Eyewitness News.

While COVID-19 has been devastating to the global economy, video-streaming services like Netflix, AmazonPrime and YouTube have found a captive audience.

A prohibition on live music has been in place since the beginning of lockdown, now a few weeks shy of its anniversary in March, and is how many musicians make money outside of royalties and product endorsements.

Radebe said that with the resurgence of COVID-19 infections and restrictions on event attendance, it had become almost impossible for artists to earn a living.

“Musicians and other artists generate a large proportion of their income from live events,” he said.

While the platform’s name is reminiscent of the globally used US streaming service Netflix, Radebe said that it took a while for the company to come up with it.

“’Loca’ comes from local, things from ekasi. Then ‘flix’ is a slang word meaning chilling, so this means local content which you’d be enjoying.”

Locaflix has two things that current streaming sites don’t.

  1. It offers a streaming service for local music and recorded live concerts; and

  2. It’s pay-per-view.

“Other streaming services are subscription-based. LocaFlix’s subscription is free… you go there to purchase what you want. We’re based on local content and give local content creators a platform.”

The musician said that he aimed to make the streaming service a home where African content lived, as well as to spread ownership among more black people outside of international offerings.

“We spend money and time supporting businesses that are not black-owned. Black people need to move into a space of ownership; that ownership also benefits the local content creators,” said Radebe.

The entrepreneur is also adamant that LocaFlix can offer other artists within the industry an alternative income. According to Radebe, LocaFlix can produce between a 45-minute episode to a one-and-a-half-hour film and make enough money to sustain it.

Radebe said that in the future, the service would become a one-stop-shop where people could stream and buy music, watch music videos, comedy specials and access courses on filming and music.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Radebe has a special event planned for viewers.

Sax Renditions Volume 3 will be aired on 14 February. It is a live concert with some of his friends, played straight into your lounge.

Radebe said that the event was already seeing success, with viewers scooping up tickets to watch. The show is priced at R60 per view.

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