Chinese rock star's first online concert sets record
Published: Apr 18, 2022 12:38 AM
Photo: Screenshot of Cui Jian's online concert on Friday
The four-hour long online concert by the 61-year-old musician Cui Jian on Friday evening has topped nearly 45 million views. Photo: Screenshot of Cui Jian's online concert on Friday

"In 2022, where terrible things constantly happen in the world and people's minds are disturbed by the pandemic, we need a Rock and Roll gala like this to soothe restless feelings," said a rock fan named Yalin. Chinese rock legend Cui Jian held his first online concert, which has attracted millions and also set a record for the highest number of viewers in the country.

The four-hour long online concert by the 61-year-old musician on Friday evening has topped nearly 45 million views with the website constantly crashing due to the large number of users trying to connect at the same time.

The concert created a wave that has lasted throughout the weekend.

"This is an unprecedented cultural event for Chinese music fans. Until midnight there were still hundreds of thousands of people on the livestreaming platform savoring the concert replay," Yalin, one viewer of the show, told the Global Times on Sunday.

A gala for all

"For me, personally, I am not one of those keen fans of Cui Jian. But still I did not want to miss such as 'symbolic figure' and his impressive performance," another spectator surnamed Zou told the Global Times.

The 26-year-old Zou added that for the vast majority of people who have been depressed during these times, Cui's music is "very much in line with their emotions."

The music has successful brought the public from 2022 back to 1986, when Cui Jian became the trailblazer of China's Rock and Roll music when he released his album Nothing to My Name at The Workers' Stadium in Beijing.

For older Chinese music lovers, Cui is not only a symbol, but also represents memories of the 1980s when society was at the early stage of opening up to the world stage, shortly after the reform and opening-up.

Cui's family belongs to China's Korean ethnicity and both of his parents worked as artists. In 1988, the 27-year-old Cui gained more popularity after he appeared in media, such as People's Daily, for his unique style two years after his Rock and roll debut in Beijing.

Since then, Cui's music has been a steppingstone for a string of Chinese singers and musicians over following decades, in addition to his constant appearance in many hit movies, including The Sun Also Rises and Mr.Six. His fans have since then shown their love and admiration for his rock spirit.

The Cui Jian phenomenon continued until the beginning of the 21st century, when Chinese music began to blossom and the former trailblazer also reached his 40's and gradually faded out of the public's attention.

Yet, this was a sensational concert, far from a nostalgic performance by the leading figure in music, and for business insiders, this was also "a successful exploration of the independent operation model of online concerts since the COVID-19 epidemic."

Transformation sees value

During the past two years, the concert business has been stricken heavily by the pandemic but the industry saw a slightly of recovery since 2021. However, a huge gap still exists due to attendance restrictions inside venues.

Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based industry analyst, told the Global Times on Sunday that live-streamed concerts, although not something new, have been greatly capitalized in the pandemic-hit era and are expected to release huge commercial value in the next few years, especially with the advance of high technologies like the metaverse.

Many music and video platforms in China, including Tencent and NetEase Cloud Music, are seeking opportunities online, where a visual feast combined with digital technology can be provided to the audience.

It is also highly expected that live-streamed concerts could someday provide the audience with a real immersion experience, just like offline concerts, through VR goggles and the development of the metaverse could create such an environment, according to Liu.

"So far, we can see that the successful online concerts on WeChat Channels, including Cui Jian's and Westlife's, did not earn revenue. Yet, they were actively promoted by big platforms like Tencent because it is important to set up landmark online concert events at the initial phase," Liu said, noting that the profitability models are very clear ahead.

The venue limitations during the pandemic also brought the number of livestreaming concerts viewers in China, from 116 million in June 2019, to 190 million at the beginning of 2021, nearly doubled within 1.5 years, based on data from the China Internet Network Information Center quoted by IResearch in March, 2022.

"Advertisements and sales of music-related virtual and physical products could all be the way of making profits," Liu noted, adding that sales of tickets could also be explored.