Livestreaming DJs go viral amid coronavirus epidemic
Zhou Chenglong has been a disc jockey (DJ) for more than a decade, but blasting beats at the bar where he works has been restricted lately.
"Who would ever think that I would be a livestreaming DJ on the internet," said Zhou, music director of the Beehive bar in Shanghai.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, many bars in China have resorted to "cloud dancing" amid tepid business, which is a new experience for many DJs.
In the past, Zhou played music for a big, live crowd at Beehive, but now he has to pretend to be performing in front of a lot of people.
"I feel like I have to be more active, even though there is no one around," Zhou said. "The cameras are relentlessly focusing on me, and my moves can be seen all over the internet."
Dong Jie, video director of Beehive, said that such live broadcast is very different from live shows such as music festivals.
"For traditional live shows, 70 percent of the time the cameras focus on the faces of the audience to show the bustling environment, but there is no audience in the bar," Dong said.
Dong was a DJ himself for seven years. He later came up with the idea of having multiple cameras for livestreaming in the bar, in addition to split-screen technology during livestreaming.
"A close-up camera focuses on the hand movements of the DJ, while a big camera captures the entire stage and its light show," Dong said. "Several other cameras also zoom on the DJ's face."
Such ways of DJing warmed up the atmosphere in the bar and effectively grabbed attention on the internet.
Since Beehive began livestreaming its DJs playing music on Feb 16, viewing streams have topped 700,000 on the internet. Peak online participants exceeded 20,000, and the average number of viewers stood at 12,000. Most of the viewers are aged between 25 and 30.
Before the epidemic, the number of visitors to the bar stood between 1,000 to 1,500 each night, mostly aged between 25 to 40, according to Beehive.
"In the first few days of the livestreaming, each viewer usually stayed in the livestreaming room for one or two minutes," said Zhuang Wanci, brand director of Beehive.
To make them stay longer, the bar came up with a variety of themes, including interactive games such as "Guessing the songs" and the cardio exercise theme "Burning your calories."
"It's not just about playing the latest music singles anymore," Zhuang said.
Some viewers even started chat groups and began sharing their lives with others while watching.
The livestreaming session generated revenue from online rewards from the viewers, Zhuang said, adding that they will possibly continue livestreaming even after the epidemic.
"In the past, competition was basically regional," Zhuang Wanci, brand director of Beehive. "Now it is a national competition as we go online."