Chinese streamers on the hunt for donations from their followers

Douyin , the Chinese version of TikTok , is full of young people looking to generate income from donations. This is what they do for it.

Chinese youths sit in front of their smartphones on a bridge in the middle of the night to live stream songs or discussions via their country’s TikTok , hoping to garner financial contributions from fans.

Sitting in front of their phones mounted on tripods, and their LED lamps to illuminate their faces, they settle in groups of about twenty in some places in the big cities.

In Guilin (South), they meet every night on a bridge in the hope of attracting the attention of users of Douyin , the Chinese version of the TikTok application .

Why such motivation despite the late hour? Because the app allows viewer users, on the other side of the screen, to donate digital money to live streamers (” streamers “), whose talent or personality they appreciate.

“When you broadcast live indoors, you need to be pretty,” explains Qiao Ya, a 27-year-old who sings and talks on her channel between 9:00 p.m. and 3:00 a.m.

“I have a fairly ordinary physique, with no particular artistic talent, so spreading it out in the open helps attract viewers thanks to the environment,” he says.

The outdoor live broadcast was extended a year ago. But the conditions are sometimes harsh. This week, with temperatures close to freezing, many ” streamers ” were wrapped in blankets and some had brought small booster heaters, an AFP reporter found .

“If we’re out alone late at night, viewers see it’s hard and are often more generous,” explains Qiao Ya, whose only income comes from online contributions.

income supplement

Going live on Douyin, an app with hundreds of millions of users, is a popular way to earn extra income in China .

Some sell products or give tips and tricks about everyday life. Others sing, dance or simply talk with the spectators.

Certain ” streamers “, especially those specialized in recommending food or cosmetic products, became celebrities capable of generating millions of dollars in advertising revenue.

But the earnings of the young people living on the Guilin bridge are much more modest. On good days, Qiao Ya earns about 600 yuan (almost $90) for eight hours of broadcasting. He adds that sometimes it drops to just a dollar and a half.

For 36-year-old eyebrow tattoo artist Zhang Xiaoxiao, live streaming is above all an income supplement.

The covid-19 epidemic has crushed the beauty salon industry in China , with many seeing their activity curtailed due to health restrictions. Some even closed.

“We were under a lot of pressure and the business was not working well. I like to sing and dance. So I thought it would be good to do extra work,” he explains with a smile.

But this activity and the resulting noise is not necessarily to everyone’s taste.

“Some don’t appreciate us. Sometimes they say to us: ‘Why don’t you look for a real job?’ So now we settle far from the houses so as not to disturb people,” says Zhang Xiaoxiao. (AFP)