It’s been 23 years since the debut of the Irish boyband Westlife, who have been continuously making waves in the West, with their hit songs since the late 1990s such as Uptown Girl, Flying Without Wings and You Raise Me Up. Now the legendary band has spread the buzz from 8,153 km away in the UK to China, thanks to the medium of WeChat Channels, and in doing so has gained a large initial following.
The live-streamed concert, although physically held in London, shows a dedication to the audience in China, with the band singing The Ordinary Road in Mandarin – a popular Chinese song. The online show had attracted nearly 28 million Chinese viewers to tune in on 17 December and generated more than 160 million likes on WeChat Channels – a new short video platform embedded in China’s popular instant messaging app WeChat.
The hit of Westlife on WeChat shows the power of this young video-sharing platform in supporting the music industry, especially those based overseas who want to reach China’s lucrative demographics of listeners.
Soon after its official account launched on the channel on 12 December, the band has seen hundreds of thousands of fans in China flocking to the page welcoming its arrival, and the following online concert teaser featuring some of the band’s classic rhythm had resonated with some 300,000.
As WeChat Channels has played a crucial role in connecting this long-established foreign band to its Chinese audience, in particular, the country’s Millennials. Born between the 1980s and early 1990s, these generations grew up listening to the band’s songs, and the concert naturally has provoked a feeling of nostalgia from their youth, which has further added to the social media buzz around the concert.
In addition, home to 1.25 billion monthly active users (MAU), WeChat possesses a large user base that would benefit the growth of the brand more than other Chinese media platforms. As it is reported, the Chinese Tik Tok Douyin had seen some 670 million MAU, while the figure at another Chinese short-video rival Kuaishou stood at 410 million as of this September.
The bigger access to the audience could also be the rationale that the band had chosen WeChat Channels as its first landing in China’s digital landscape, instead of the latter. It is also a large reason behind the push into this new venture for WeChat, with platform’s value being based upon their size of user base and theirs being the largest, allowing another in-app feature to soar naturally.
The online sensation seen at Westlife also shows that with the video channel’s connection to WeChat, it has also allowed a quicker penetration to Chinese users, thanks to the homegrown platform’s understanding of its audience. Therefore this platform can help international players to curate languages that speak to their target audience more effectively, allowing them to reach the required markets whilst also increasing the scope and value of WeChat further.