Looking back on 2020, the music industry has experienced turbulence, hardship, transformation and innovation. We selected 10 key moments in China’s music industry to capture the eventful year.
On April 19th, 2020, Lady Gaga and Global Citizen organized the “One World: Together At Home” online charity concert. Many Chinese musicians who watched the performance at home that night responded to Lao Lang(老狼)’s Call about the call of the musician Lao Lang and spontaneously held a online concert through Wechat.
Gao Xiaosong(高晓松), who also watched this concert, released the “Believe in the Future Benefit Performance (相信未来义演) Proposal” on Weibo the next day, which attracted the participation of many platforms and music companies in a short period of time. Taihe Music Group, Modern Sky, Live Nation, HIM International, Yuehua Entertainment, UMG, Sony Music, WMG joined in, among others. Many large platforms like Youku, Tencent Video and CCTV, etc. pledged to broadcast the performance.
On May 4th, 2020, only 15 days after the publication of the proposal, the “Believe in the Future” charity performance jointly organized by Weibo, NetEase Cloud Music, Xiami, Damai and TME with Gao Xiaosong as the producer was live streamed online.
More than 200 groups of musicians, including Faye Wong(王菲), Na Ying(那英), Pu Shu(朴树), Lao Lang, and Jackson Yee(易烊千玺), recorded themselves performing in their home studios, hotel rooms, living rooms and even on the sidewalk and in the field.
The “Believe in the Future” charity performance lasted from May 4th to May 10th. It is believed to be the largest online charity performance in China’s history. According to the latest data, the first three live streams of “Believe in the Future” attracted 440 million viewers and 170 organizations, 282 musicians and MCs, and 300+ staff members participated in the show.
Since the pandemic was largely under control at the time of the broadcast, the musicians were able to be more flexible with their performance locations. They brought the Chinese audience a heartwarming performance and opened new possibilities for online live music events.
2020 is the year that Bilibili became well-known outside of the ACG community and entered into the public eye. First, the fun marketing of its original variety show Rap for Youth (《说唱新世代》) caught the public eye and became a hit. And then it’s New Year’s Eve Gala stood out competing with a large amount of traditional satellite TV New Year Galas and received the most attention.
This New Year’s Eve Gala contains 3 chapters, 22 groups of guests, and 35 programs. Performers include pop musicians like Mayday(五月天), Mao Buyi(毛不易) and G.E.M(邓紫棋), and some “not so pop” chinese traditional instrument player Wu Tong(吴彤) and pianist Lang Lang, as well as anime characters and virtual idols.
As a result of its variety of programming, the Bilibili New Year’s Eve Gala attracted viewers from all walks of life. At the height of its viewership, the gala had 250 million people watching at the same time.
“The Most Beautiful Night” Bilibili New Year’s Gala scored 9.2 points on Douban, and was considered “the gala most worth watching in many many years” by many people. Bilibili successfully integrated the niche cultural elements it represents with pop culture, creating a very unique brand image in the eyes of the public.
As one of the hottest variety shows in 2020, Sisters Who Make Waves (《乘风破浪的姐姐》)features 30 female celebrities over 30 years old competing to debut in a seven-member girl group.
The show trended on Weibo as soon as it was released and remained a hot topic throughout the summer.
Data shows that Sisters Who Make Waves trended on Weibo 645 times, reached 100 million views on the first day of broadcast and had a 8.6 rating on Douban.
The popularity of this variety show comes not only from the popularity of the artists, but also from the show’s focus on the charm of mature women over 30 years old. The concept of “girl power” made the program stand out and inspired a round of discussion about career, life, and identity issues of women above 30 years old.
Sisters Who Make Waves demonstrated that outside their responsibilities as daughters, mothers and wives, the “sisters” can be charming, dream-chasing and still reinvent their lives.
During the show, the contestants trained hard for the performance stage. They remained confident whether they advance to the next round or get eliminated. They are free and fearless, which inspired the audiences.
In recent years, women’s issues are receiving more and more attention. Sisters Who Make Waves created a more tolerant beauty standard for women and called for the society to see their value outside of traditional roles.
The pandemic swept the world and hit the music industry hard. Many musicians lost the way to connect with fans and a lot of income.
While the world fell into a panic, many musicians began to utilize online tools like online concerts, live streaming and digital singles to soothe their fans. On March 10t h, 2020, Tencent Music Entertainment Group launched TME live to provide musicians with a new channel to perform online.
Since its launch TME Live maintains a high standard for quality, and each performance sparkled a lot of discussion online.
The first notable performance was Someday or One day OST Concert (“想见你”OST彩蛋音乐会). The concert brought back memories of this classic TV series and the singer Wu Bai (伍佰) and the song name “Last Dance” trended on Weibo many times.
In her immersive TME Live “Music Theater Show (音乐剧场秀)”, Rene Liu (刘若英) stood in the middle of the stage wearing a plain white shirt, singing the old days to her fans with a song “Later(《后来》)”. After all these years, her fans are still listening to her telling her story like old friends.
There is also the “Live is So Much Better with Music” charity concert by Eason Chan (陈奕迅) and Mayday’s Live in the Sky Concert, which trended on weibo 7 times and attracted a viewership of 35 million.
In the post-pandemic era, the music industry has gradually recovered, but the online live music business model is still improving and developing, and it has become one of the major ways for people to enjoy live music.
During National Day holiday in October, Strawberry Music Festival was held in Beijing again. On the last day of the music festival, Faye Wong (王菲) showed up at the festival as a member of the audience. She dropped her phone at the festival and had to go to the staff members to get her phone back from lost and found. Hashtag #Faye Wong Lost her Phone at Strawberry Festival# trended on Weibo and was read holiday Strawberry Music Festival returned to Beijing after two years. On the last day of the music festival, #Wang Fei at the Strawberry Music Festival put mobile phone collapsed# on Weibo hot search. On October 7, Faye Wong appeared as an audience at the Strawberry Music Festival in a low-key manner, but was exposed by hot searches to reveal the nature of music fans.
Hashtag #Faye Wong Lost her Phone at Strawberry Festival# trended on Weibo and was read 310 million times. Many fans who also went to the festival showed off online that they are people who partied with the famous singer.
In the first episode of Youth With You Season 2 (《青春有你2》), contestant Li Xining (李熙凝)’s rap “pale yellow dress, fluffy hair (淡黄色的长裙，蓬松的头发)” made the whole country laugh. No matter how hard rap instructor Jony J tried to teach her, she didn’t improve.
Four hours after the episode was released, a video clip giving Jony J, NINEONE(乃万) and Qin Niuzhengwei(秦牛正威)’s expression funny subtitles while Li Xining raps went viral on Weibo. The hashtag #Pale Yellow Dress, Fluffy Hair were viewed 870 million times.
After that, celebrities, bloggers and influencers pushed the popularity of this topic higher by creating content around it. Youth With You became a hot topic. Memes, short videos, cosplays and covers of this rap song emerged by numbers on platforms like Tik Tok and Bilibili.
At the end of the summer of 2020, the long awaited second season of The Big Band (《乐队的夏天》)returned, WUTIAOREN (五条人) captured the audiences’ attention from the beginning. Because they decided to change the song right before their first round performance and the stage crew didn’t have time to adjust to it, the performance came out less than ideal and they got eliminated.
WUTIAOREN has a very unique style compared to the other 30 bands in the show. They wear leather jackets, floral print shirt, oily quiff hair, flip flops, and their general rustic peasant vibe stands out among the avant-garde, cool rock band bunch. They call themselves “Rural Takuya Kimura” and “Country Aaron Kwok”, and their comical interaction with the judges on the show made the audiences laugh their heads off.
As the first band that got eliminated in the show, WUTIAOREN had three hashtags trended on Weibo in the first day of broadcast, and hashtag #WUTIAOREN made me laugh my head off# got 930 million views and 119,000 posts about it. After they got eliminated, the audiences mobilized to get their friends and family to vote WUTIAOREN to get them back on stage.
A month after getting eliminated, WUTIAOREN got voted by the audiences to come back to the show. They performed one time and then immediately got eliminated again. On the night of the broadcast, #We have to fish WUTIAOREN back again# trended on Weibo. Netizens called it, “the biggest performance art this year”.
WUTIAOREN gave us a lot of joy during the summer and they made a name for themselves with their music and their attitude.
In the beginning of 2020, “Thunder(《惊雷》)” went viral on Douyin. Yang Kun (杨坤), a famous singer-songwriter in China received a request from the audience member of his live stream to play the song “Thunder” as background music. Yang Kun angrily refused, commenting that the song “has no melody, no rhythm, it’s not only bad, but also disgusting and tacky.”
Yang Kun also warned the audience, “If you like to listen to “Thunder”, don’t come to my live streams. It’s a horrible song.” And the singer of “Thunder” MC Liu Dao (六道) dissed him back saying: “There is no hierarchy in music, as long as it can bring people joy, it’s good music. This song that you call tacky is more popular than any of your own songs.”
The conflict of Yang Kun and MC Liu Dao trended all over the internet. Soon after, “Thunder” was found to be plagiarized, which escalated the event further.
The musician Cheng Xuexun (成学迅) claims that the instrumental of “Thunder” is taken from his song “Girl Follow Me(《姑娘跟我走》)”. And MC Liu Dao quickly admitted plagiarism and apologized for it.
The focus of the discussion wasn’t about the song, but whether “Hanmai (喊麦)” can be called a musical genre. Many people think “Hanmai” is basically chanting with background music. And what kind of music can be called high-quality music sparked discussion yet again.
The much anticipated new single “Mojito” by Jay Chou were finally released on June 12th, 2020. The song sold 1 million copies on QQ Music in the first hour of its release, and Jay Chou became the singer who broke the record for selling 1 million and 2 million copies the fastest.
The enthusiasm of the fans led to a short-term collapse of the QQ Music platform. As of press, “Mojito” has sold 6.3 million copies on QQ Music, and the #New Jay Chou Single Mojito# on Weibo has received 2.1 billion views and 1.151 million views.
Jay Chou singles have long been synonymous as hits of the year. In addition to streaming the song, fans also used the song as background music and made a ton of videos on Douyin, Kuaishou and Bilibili.
There are Spanish covers, Italian covers, jazz piano covers, fanmade choreography videos, and even Mojito bartending lessons. This song also made mojito the new favorite summer drink for many fans.
To many people born in the 80s and 90s, Jay Chou is the reminder of their youthful times. After he got married, Jay Chou started to release songs at a slower pace, which made each new release ever more precious.
In October 2020, #Tan Weiwei I admit that I envy top-tier celebrities (谭维维 我承认我羡慕流量歌手)# trended on Weibo after she wrote a post about how her carefully-crafted album got no attention from the public while some top-tier celebrities can release low quality music and still have their huge devoted fanbase to pay up.
Initially the discussions among netizens were focused on non-music related topics like whether the lack of attention her album got has anything to do with the top-tier celebrities and fan culture or is it just a lack of effective promotion on her part.
A few days later, #Tan Wei Wei’s lyrics are so bold (谭维维歌词好敢写)# trended on Weibo, and then people turned their attention to the content of her album 3811.
There are 11 songs in the album 3811, each depicting the life of one female character. One of the songs is called “Xiaojuan (小娟)”, the first sentence of the lyrics is: “Our name is not Xiaojuan / pseudonym is our last line of defense / social news, sensational page”, and “flushed into the sewer / from marriage beds into the bed of the rivers/ filling up suitcases / and refrigerated on the balcony / at schools, in the factory / on the roadside”.
Each sentence of these chilling lyrics represents a real case of violence against women. Tan Weiwei said:“I’m not doing this to be brave. I’m doing this because it’s my social responsibility.”
There are not many songs in China about social issues, and very few artists that speak out on these issues. The value of the song “Xiaojuan” is bigger than itself. These songs that provoke us to think deeper about our social economic reality reminds us why art exists in the first place.
Su Lee is a singer-songwriter and producer with more than 173k subscribers on YouTube. Her music video "I'll Just Dance", released标签：singer-songwriter 2021-05-20
On January 1st, Wang Feng (汪峰) released a new song “No One Cares Feat. Lay Zhang and GAI” (《没有人在乎》). The song received a lot of at标签：promotion, rock 2021-02-09
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