More than 27 million Chinese people watched the first online concert of the Irish pop band Westlife on Friday night, with the zeal lingering on social media long after the event.
The concert held in London was livestreamed on WeChat Channels, wowing the Chinese audience with hit songs such as "Seasons in the Sun" and "My love," as well as a popular Chinese song that stirred the fervor for Chinese fans.
In addition to their good Mandarin pronunciation in the Chinese song, the band thrilled the audience through their interactions and sharing their experiences of visiting China.
For many Chinese, the first English song they learned was by Westlife.
"The event brought back a flood of memories for many born in the 1970s, 1980s and even the 1990s," said Li Yijie, a post-80s Chinese fan who watched the whole show. According to Li, the band left a deep impression on many Chinese fans during their youth, and the concert allowed them to share their music-related memories with their peers across the globe.
The WeChat team had connected Westlife members, who expressed a wish to resume their tours in China and to communicate with their Chinese fans online.
WeChat Channels is expected to become a connector of cultures thanks to the influence of WeChat, which has 1.2 billion users worldwide, said Zhu Liqun, who leads WeChat's marketing department. The Westlife concert was WeChat's first move in its project to invite more global celebrities to WeChat Channels, said Zhu.
While the concert was free to everyone, many netizens sent digital gifts to the band through the platform.
Zhong Xin, a professor with Renmin University of China, said that music is an important medium for international cultural exchanges, and online concerts can connect people worldwide at the same moment, a fact that embodies the concept of a shared future for humanity.
The format also creates commercial value, as the enthusiasm of the fans provides a material basis for the sustainable development of online concerts, Zhong added.
The ecstasy that Westlife brought to Chinese netizens follows a series of online concerts performed by Chinese singers.
Yeshi Lhamo, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the profit model of online concerts is still in a preliminary stage.
"Online co-creation is an irresistible trend, and this concert is a good example," Yeshi Lhamo said.