Backstreet boys

Backstreet Boys’ WeChat concert attracted 44.2 million fans, organizers say

The Backstreet Boys in 2019. Photo Credit: Glenn Francis / CC by 2.0

Last week, The Backstreet Boys teamed up with Tencent’s WeChat to bring a live broadcast to fans in China. Now organizers have revealed that the ‘performance of a lifetime’ has attracted nearly 45 million spectators.

The Backstreet Boys played for their many fans in China (1.4 billion people) last Friday morning. Available for the ultra-affordable cost of free admission, the gig came hot on the heels of a previous WeChat gig by Ireland-based boy band Westlife, which made a surprise appearance at the latter show and also has a notable Chinese following. .

WeChat mapped the Backstreet Boys’ route (in a vehicle made by Lincoln, which sponsored the event) to the appropriate location in Philadelphia, with Mandarin captions of the members’ conversation. (See the 4:00 minute mark of the stream recording for what may be a censored utterance of the word “COVID.”) And throughout the lengthy performance itself, the platform featured headlines of songs and lyrics in English and Mandarin.

(Lincoln, which reportedly sold better in China than in the United States in 2021, aired several spots, displayed its logo above each song title on screen, and had the moderator and the Backstreet Boys themselves during the event.)

As for the Lincoln commercial that the host and actor read, the multi-faceted event saw the participating group alternate between performing and engaging in a kind of preliminary conversation (“Ni hao,” a said each member while introducing themselves to the audience), talking with The Back Dorm Boys via video, answering questions about tours, and hosting the aforementioned Westlife (who tuned in remotely), among other segments.

In additional testimonies of China-based fans’ affinity for the Backstreet Boys, it was also explained that fans had given widely used nicknames to the members, who had previously been caught in the crosshairs of Chinese government censorship. . Additionally, Backstreet Boys fans sang “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” via pre-recorded videos towards the end of the more than two-hour event.

As mentioned at the start, 44.2 million people watched the marathon live, the organizers told DMN, making it the most-watched WeChat show by an international artist to date.

Of course, the companies involved haven’t publicly identified details of the (undoubtedly substantial) paycheck the Backstreet Boys received for the gig, and the eight-time Grammy-nominated band hasn’t. more. But in the long run, it will be interesting to see what other veteran artists — regardless of their current reach in the US and elsewhere — take advantage of their fans in China, whose music industry and streaming space is growing. rapidly.

As you might expect, the benefits of having a physical presence in the country extend far beyond live streaming; The Backstreet Boys are currently touring North America, but have started planning physical concerts for fans in China, members said on WeChat.