From grassroots to professional, from niche to mainstream, in the past 15 years, 5sing has been through dramatic change alongside the music industry.
2002 to 2007 was when internet music came into being. 5sing was founded right at the same time. At first, it’s a music social platform for millennials; now it’s for the even younger generations.
Let’s take a look at how the platform evolved.
First 10 Years: Nurturing Grassroot Musicians
5sing was a significant contributor to the development of ancient Chinese style music.
Fifteen years ago, when 5sing first launched, Ye Luoluo was 11. In 2007, he went on 5sing for the first time. In 2013, he uploaded his first original ancient Chinese style song. Now he has more than 270,000 fans on the platform. He Xin went to college in 2009, majoring in life science, got into 5sing in 2010, and since then, accumulated 12,000 fans and created his production studio.
For up-and-coming/amateur musicians, meet their following demands all at once:
First, convenience. They can download and upload songs on the platform freely.
Next, socialization. 5sing’s well made comment areas and other interactive features fostered a lot of meaningful communications between listeners, singers and writers.
Third, equality. In most cases, listeners also take on other roles, like content creaters, songwriters and mixing engineers. Everyone consumers, and everyone produces.
Fourth, promotional support. 5sing has recommendation algorithms, a variety of ranking charts, banner page, a lot of cover competitions and songwriting competitions.
5sing had many competitors that focus on niche music listeners back in the day, like Songtaste, YYFC, etc. All but 5sing went out of business. The reason why 5sing didn’t go bankrupt like the rest is because of a dedication to ancient Chinese style and anime music. For example, He Xin tried out all the platforms mentioned above and ultimately settled down on 5sing because “it heavily favors ancient Chinese style and anime musicians, as the two genres get better, users accumulate, and they stick with the platform.
Quickly, songs recommended on 5sing’s home page would gather hundreds of thousands of downloads and clicks, which is a lot of good quality traffic for niche genre musicians.
Poster of a song-writing competition on 5sing
Ye Luoluo said that the best qualities of 5sing are “grassroots friendliness” and “editor’s recommendations.” He believes that “it provides everyone who likes music with a place to publish their works. Unlike other streaming platforms that use algorithms to customize recommendations, 5sing still uses editors to handpick recommendations based solely on the merit of the song, giving lesser-known artists a boost in popularity.
Ancient Chinese style, as a new musical genre that was born entirely on the internet, the qualities of its earlier work were not up to mainstream standards. However, rich cultural soil of traditional instruments and ancient poems breeds ancient Chinese style artists. These young people who are desperate for a sense of community and self-expression find what they can’t find in real life on 5sing. The activity page was full of posts of singing groups looking for new members, duets looking for partners, composers looking for singers. They might not have the best technical skills, but their love for music is heartfelt. They help each other out, learn from each other, and encourages one another, which makes them more loyal to the platform. Later, the platform even became an emotional oasis where users can forget about the hardships of the real world.
Now: From Amateurs to Pros
Before 2014, users on 5sing were still amateurs entertaining themselves. But the crowdfunding feature launched in 2014 marked the commercialization of ancient Chinese style music.
Unlike other crowdfunding platforms, 5sing allows musicians to plan albums and concerts with fans. Some musicians want to take their production quality up a notch but can’t find the money to do it. Now with the support of the fans, they can produce good quality music, film music videos, or hold concerts.
5sing’s crowdfunding homepage
In 2016, the head of 5sing’s crowdfunding department told us during our interview with him that “5sing is a place where grassroot musicians can make their dream come true, whether they are ancient Chinese style musicians, ringtone musicians or gimmick song musicians. Other platforms can’t do that. We have all the fans and technology.”
In July 2015, Xiyin Club raised close to a million yuan for its ancient Chinese style album, breaking the record for the most amount of money raised on 5sing. In 2016, album Yu Hua Wan Li raised 1.39 million from nine thousand fans.
Besides, after Kugou, Kuwo, and QQ Music merged under Tencent Music Entertainment, songs uploaded on 5sing automatically sync to Kugou, Kuwo, and QQ Music. After participating in the production of more than ten albums, He Xin told us, “everything’s professionalized now, it helps ancient Chinese style music get mainstream recognition.”
Now ancient Chinese style music is more than mainstream. 5sing musicians like Yin Lin and Dong Zhen show up in concerts and music festivals, as well as sing OST for popular drama series.
For grassroot indie musicians, the beginning of their career is the most difficult. Due to a lack of name recognition, they need a platform to provide them with reliable traffic and users to slowly build up a dedicated fan base.
Recently, 5sing’s mobile app launched a new feature, “Circle.” Users can join “circles” of singers, composers, lyrics writers, band players, marketers, cover artists, music critics, mixing engineers, ancient Chinese style lovers, folk music lovers, pop music lovers, anime lovers, Chinese opera lovers, etc. If you can’t find your “circle,” you’re welcomed to create your own.
5sing App’s Circle recommendation page
No matter how the technology evolves, 5sing would always be a platform that connects with users on an emotional level and serves the best interest of grassroot musicians.
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