Hong Kong’s Andy Lau smashes global live-stream concert record with 350m viewers on ‘China’s TikTok’

Credit: Shutterstock/Marcello Farina
Andy Lau pictured at the Venice Film Festival in 2010

Hong Kong singer-songwriter and film producer Andy Lau surpassed his own worldwide record for the most number of viewers during an online concert, attracting a whopping 350 million on Saturday (September 3).

To put that into context: 350 million people is around 30 million more than the entire population of the United States.

Lau’s concert was aired on ByteDance-owned Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. It broke Lau’s previous record set in July last year when the artist’s Douyin concert drew 100 million viewers.

The two-hour online event initially attracted about 100 million viewers within 30 minutes and amassed hundreds of millions of views before it ended, the South China Morning Post reported on Sunday (September 4).

By Sunday afternoon, the number of views rose by 60 million to 410 million as more users watched the replay, the report said.

Lau’s concert incited nostalgia for fans of Canto-pop, a genre of pop music sung in Cantonese that reached its peak in the 1980s and 1990s, the SCMP said.

“I hope everyone can have more than 10,000 years of love, I love you for 10,000 years,” Lau told his audience, according to Douyin’s post on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo.

The 60-year old artist, also known for his Hong Kong films including Running Out of Time (1999) and Internal Affairs (2002), performed some of his hits including Ice Rain and It’s Not a Crime For a Man to Cry.

Online concerts have become increasingly popular for platforms like Douyin amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, Lau also held an online concert on Tencent Music Entertainment’s in-house live music performance streaming arm TME Live, which attracts sponsorships from high-profile domestic and international brands.

Meanwhile, other acts that performed on the Douyin platform include Hong Kong singer-songwriter Eason Chan Yik-shun, Singaporean pop star Stefanie Sun Yan-zi and Malaysian songstress Fish Leong Jing-ru.

Amassing 350 million views in a single concert underscores Douyin’s growing presence in China despite being launched just six years ago.

In comparison, its rival platform Kuaishou, which counts Tencent among its backers, was launched in 2011. Tencent also operates its own livestreaming app called Channels within its WeChat app.

In June, ’90s boy band the Backstreet Boys drew 45 million viewers on WeChat on a free livestream performance.

The event was the highest-attended livestream concert on WeChat by an international artist, according to its sponsors.

That number pales in comparison to Lau’s concert. Douyin reportedly had around 710 million daily active users in China as of 2021 from 600 million the previous year.

That marks a large leap from 400 million daily active users in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns attracted more users to these platforms.

WeChat, on the other hand, had 1.27 billion users in 2021 from 1.22 billion the previous year, suggesting that Douyin added more daily active users last year versus Tencent’s app.

Tencent only started to roll out short-form video contents on WeChat via its Channels feature in late 2021 as more platforms in China and overseas adopt the TikTok-style user experience that uses algorithms to keep viewers and generate ad revenue.

But back in August 2021, Tencent President Martin Lau said monetization “is not a focus for now.”

“Right now, we are very focused on increasing the content, improving the content ecosystem, including increasing the high-quality content, as well as enhancing our core capabilities such as our recommendation engine… We know that at some point in time, there will be monetization because monetization mechanism is actually well established in that industry,” the executive said in an earnings call.Music Business Worldwide