Backstreet Boys livestream concert watched by 45m viewers in China via Tencent’s WeChat app

Live music has well and truly returned from its forced pandemic pause.

While thousands spent the past weekend (June 24-26) in the Glastonbury fields in the UK, concert giant Live Nation recently saw its revenues soar to $1.8 billion across all divisions in Q1 2022.

Livestreaming, meanwhile, a format that became vital for the live music industry in the absence of in-person shows during the pandemic, is showing no sign of going away.

On Friday (June 24), a free livestream performance from the Backstreet Boys was watched by 45 million viewers in China via WeChat, the social app owned by Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings.

The media statement announcing the news claims that the event, sponsored by Lincoln and produced by 24/7 Productions, was the highest-attended livestream concert on WeChat by an international artist.

The performance, which was recorded at Rock Lititz Studio, Pennsylvania,  reached 10 million viewers within half an hour.

WeChat had over 1.2 billion active users as of Q1 2022, having hit the 1 billion user accounts milestone in 2018.

An additional element to the event saw UK-headquartered Driift, a producer and promoter of live streamed music events, produce a guest appearance on the livestream from Irish boy band Westlife.

Broadcast from Smock Alley in Dublin and directed by Chris Howe and, the Driift-produced livestream saw the two boy bands duet remotely on the Backstreet Boys’ hit I Want It That Way and Westlife’s My Love. 

Driift sold a minority stake in its business to France-born music streaming company Deezer in October and followed Deezer’s investment in DREAMSTAGE, a US-based live music streaming startup.

Driift was launched in August 2020 and as of October had sold more than 600,000 tickets for live streamed gigs with artists like Nick Cave, Niall Horan, Kylie Minogue, Biffy Clyro, Andrea Bocelli, Laura Marling, Dermot Kennedy, Courtney Barnett and Sheryl Crow.

Friday’s event marked the second time Chris Howe and Driift have collaborated with Westlife and their management for a WeChat livestream.

The band’s previous show, which took place in December 2021, attracted 28 million viewers.

Driift says that on both occasions, the performances were filmed specifically for viewing and consumption on mobile devices.

“It’s been a real joy to work with Westlife again as part of such an extraordinarily successful collaboration.”

Sasha Duncan, Driift

Sasha Duncan, Head of Production, Driift, said: “It’s been a real joy to work with Westlife again as part of such an extraordinarily successful collaboration.

“Achieving this level of engagement in China is unprecedented for international artists, and also highlights the versatility of the livestream format.

“Whether it’s a high-end cinematic production or a performance like this, tailored for viewing on mobile devices, we’re proving it’s possible to forge a genuine connection with online audiences.”Music Business Worldwide

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