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Canto-pop icon Andy Lau Tak-wah had nearly 77 million followers on short video platform Douyin as of Sunday, following his successful online concert held on September 3, 2022. Photo: Weibo

Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau’s online concert on Douyin sets record 350 million viewers on a wave of Canto-pop nostalgia

  • Andy Lau’s latest event on short video platform Douyin drew a larger audience than his concert last year, which had more than 100 million viewers
  • Douyin’s series of concerts this summer marked its increased effort to attract more users on the mainland against rivals WeChat and Kuaishou
Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah’s latest online concert on ByteDance-owned short video service Douyin has set a record 350 million viewers, as it swept the platform’s mainland Chinese users on a wave of Canto-pop nostalgia.
The two-hour concert was live-streamed on Saturday evening by Douyin, the Chinese sister app of TikTok, initially attracting about 100 million viewers within a half-hour and then quickly drawing hundreds of millions more before it concluded.
“I can’t see you face to face today, but I can still feel your love,” Lau, who will turn 61 on September 27, told his online audience. Lau, part of the “Four Heavenly Kings” of Canto-pop, is also one of Hong Kong’s most distinguished film actors, with starring roles in such classics as Running Out of Time in 1999 and 2002’s Infernal Affairs.

“I hope everyone has more than 10,000 years of love. I love you all,” Lau said before performing the popular song Ai Ni Yi Wan Nian, which translates to “Love You for 10,000 Years” in English.

Hong Kong Canto-pop superstar Andy Lau Tak-wah is also one of the city’s most distinguished film actors. Photo: Weibo
Lau’s latest online concert, where he also performed hit Mando-pop songs Ice Rain and It’s Not a Crime For a Man to Cry, surpassed his previous Douyin record of more than 100 million viewers who saw his online concert in July 2021, when he celebrated 40 years in show business.

“Every time I’m on stage, I hope I can make real eye contact with [the audience],” he said during the concert in between songs. “I hope that soon there will be no more pandemic in the world, so I can get close to [the audience] to perform.”

His concert triggered wide discussion on Chinese social media platforms, where a number of posts waxed nostalgic about the glory days of Canto-pop. Soon after the event kicked off at 8pm on Saturday, related topics such as “Andy Lau online concert” trended on microblogging service Weibo.

The number of viewers of Lau’s latest concert increased by 60 million to 410 million as of Sunday afternoon, as more Douyin users watched its replay.

Hong Kong’s Canto-pop returns with a bang

For Douyin, Lau’s concert on Saturday surpassed the online viewership numbers set by other Chinese-language singers – including Hong Kong singer-songwriter Eason Chan Yik-shun, Singaporean pop star Stefanie Sun Yan-zi and Malaysian songstress Fish Leong Jing-ru – who performed on the platform’s series of online concerts this summer. Chan’s concert in late August, for example, reached an online audience of 120 million.
The series of online concerts marked Douyin’s increased effort to attract more users across the mainland, where it competes against Tencent Holdings’ ubiquitous super app WeChat and China’s No 2 short video service operated by Kuaishou Technology.
Such online events have become increasingly popular for major Chinese-language singers to remain in touch with their mainland audience, as lockdowns and other Covid-19 control measures continue to be enforced across the country.
A string of online pop concerts has also been hosted by Channels, the short video and live-streaming service within multipurpose app WeChat.

Tencent’s short video weapon: pop stars and millennial nostalgia

In late June, more than 44 million WeChat users tuned in for an online concert by the Backstreet Boys, a US pop band that was hugely popular in China in the 1990s and 2000s. Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou in May had two concerts broadcast on Channels – with the first event drawing 47 million viewers, while the second generated an audience of 25 million.

Still, Lau has become the undisputed top draw in terms of viewer numbers in China’s new online concert wars.

After setting up his Douyin account in January 2021, Lau quickly became become one of the platform’s most active influencers. Lau’s followers on Douyin tripled to nearly 77 million after his latest concert, up from more than 26 million when he started last year.
Chinese billionaire Lei Jun, founder and chief executive of smartphone giant Xiaomi, on Saturday posted on Weibo a photo of him and Lau, whom he described as “a forever idol”.

One Douyin user, meanwhile, posted on the comment section of the concert that he “owed” Lau a ticket for a future offline concert.