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Music festival goes online to offset losses caused by coronavirus

Written by Wency Chen Published on 

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The fully online “Stay at Home Strawberry” festival will be streamed on Bilibili.

With all live performances canceled or postponed in China amid the coronavirus outbreak and millions of Chinese forced to stay home, one local indie label and music festival organizer is holding a free online streaming concert featuring musicians and rock bands on video platform Bilibili.

The organizer, Modern Sky, dubbed the unusual streaming festival “Stay at Home Strawberry,” showcasing replays of live performances from previous editions of the company’s renowned annual Strawberry Music Festival. In addition, some artists are also sharing their stay-at-home lives through the platform.

The event, which started on Tuesday, will be live-streamed daily from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. until February 8.

“Taking music festivals online is really a good opportunity to let more people know and enjoy music performances, especially at this time when most people are staying at home. This provides an alternative,” said Yang Moggie, a music fan who watched yesterday’s online show.

Still, the event did not quite reach her expectations in other respects. “Most of the performances are just pre-recorded videos. And I don’t see how this event is centered around the virus outbreak, except for staying at home. Even offering a way to donate would be better,” she said.

Yang added that not even Bilibili’s danmu feature—or bullet comments that allow viewers to interact with each other while watching—come close to the feel of a live performance.

Taking events online is a creative attempt to offset losses caused by the coronavirus. Modern Sky once announced in November 2019 plans to hold 50 live music events in 2020. However, in light of recent events, the firm will instead probably lose more than RMB 150 million, according to industry watchers.

A report from third-party research firm Analysys shows that the estimated market volume of China’s live entertainment industry was RMB 56 billion in 2019 with a year-on-year rise of 7.5%.

The Strawberry Music Festival is one of the biggest outdoor music festivals in China, popular among indie and rock music fans. The first edition was held in Beijing ten years ago and it has also taken place in other cities such as Chengdu, Shanghai, and Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus epidemic.

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