Top livestreamer throws all-star free concert for fans

Key takeaways: 

  • Crazy Little Brother Yang, one of the top livestreamers in China, has held a free concert for fans.
  • Yang did not monetise the concert, leading to speculations that he was seeking to rehabilitate his image after controversies and being labelled “vulgar”.
  • The event was also designed to expand reach of Yang’s own brand “Yang Selection” and its WeChat mini-program.

Crazy Little Brother Yang, the first Douyin streamer to reach 100 million subscribers, held a concert in Hefei on the 26th of November. The city is where Yang’s company Three Sheep Network Technology Co., Ltd. is based. The concerts featured stars such as Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung of Hong Kong pop duo Twins, Taiwan pop star Jeff Chang, Russian Singer Vitas and mainland singer-songwriter Pu Shu. What makes the streamer-held concert even more special is that it was free.

What makes the streamer-held concert even more special is that it was free

Livestream’s Woodstock moment?

Yang had been teasing this concert as early as mid-October. After announcing the concert, he also confirmed that he would give away all 30,000 tickets for free. Tickets were given away in two ways: either through prize draws at his streaming channels or WeChat mini program, or securing VIP tickets by topping up the account on his mini program to a certain amount. Users got one go at the prize draw for each 10 RMB (1.41 USD) they spent. Topping up 3,000 RMB (423.14 USD) would get you a VIP seat, while 5,000 in your account meant an SVIP ticket. Some report that they won a ticket after spending roughly 100 RMB (14.10 USD) at one of Yang’s channels.

The news set the web abuzz. On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, the topic “Little Brother Yang’s Concert” (#小杨哥演唱会#) received over 160 million views, topping the Hot Search list. “Little Brother Yang’s Concert Twins” (#小杨哥演唱会 twins#) also made it to number 2 on the list. Of course, much of the traffic was brought by fans of the artists performing at the concert, but this was precisely the point of having such a star-studded line-up. Yang’s claim that he spent 30 million RMB (4.23 million) on the concert also made it to number 4 on the list.

Much of the traffic was brought by fans of the artists, but this was the point of having such a star-studded line-up

The 3-hour concert itself went smoothly, with over 100,000 viewers tuned in online. But it was sometimes criticised for under-rehearsed performances and even accused of lip-syncing. But most netizens were forgiving enough because it was streamed online for free.

Money can’t buy me love

Apart from the prize draw requirements, the concert did not contain any sales events. No transactions were made during the livestream and even gifts for the streamer were turned off during the concert. The concert also included further giveaways to fans. By minimising monetary returns for the concert, Yang played the long game and aimed for PR and marketing gains.

Controversies surrounding big-name streamers such as Li Jiaqi, Xinba and Yang himself erupted this Double 11. One of Yang’s apprentices was criticised for her “vulgar” behaviour during livestreaming, causing both her and Yang to be named and shamed by China’s top consumer watchdog the China Consumers Association.

Some commentators believe Yang aimed to restore his image by throwing a free concert without monetisation channels. It did work as netizens praised Yang for his service to fans and fir not selling out even after his huge success.

Unauthorised ticket resale has long plagued event organisers. Not long after the announcement of the concert, resellers started to list the tickets for the concert online, some for as high as 2,000 RMB (2891.98 USD). Yang turned the threat into an opportunity by announcing that he had fired several employees caught scalping. This stunt also earned Yang praise among followers.

Yang turned the threat into an opportunity by announcing that he had fired several employees caught scalping

The host city of Hefei was also heavily promoted by Yang during the concert, even more than his channels. This is a move viewed by some as Yang’s attempt to receive more support from the authorities.

New Yang and Crazy Hauls

Marketing-wise, the concert was officially sponsored by “Yang Selection” (小杨臻选), Yang’s own brand of products. Both the mini program and one of the livestream channels are for this brand as well. The prize draw and top-up are both aimed at gaining users for his brand and the mini-program. Indeed, “Yang Selection” gained over 4 million followers after the concert, more than doubling its following. Yang’s main account also gained 800,000 followers.

Yang’s move towards his own brand and mini-program is part of this trend of diversification

With controversies surrounding top streamers, platforms are trying to move away from over-relying on a few top streamers. At the same time, top streamers are also trying to be less reliant on platforms that take a cut of their earnings. Oriental Selection, the educator-turned-streaming company diversified their channels and started their own app this year, trying to be more independent. Yang’s move towards his own brand and mini-program is part of this trend of diversification.