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Bilibili Launches Online Concert Series for China’s Quarantined Millions

Chinese short video app Bilibili has launched a series of music events for people forced to stay at home in China due to the spread of novel coronavirus.

The company has teamed up with the annual Strawberry Music Festival to create the Stay at Home Strawberry concert series, working around the theme of “Hi, I’m home too.” The series will be live-streamed free of charge 4-10pm daily five days per week, on Bilibili.

The virus outbreak became a national emergency in late January, on the eve of Chinese New Year.  Authorities responded to the outbreak by closing cinemas, limiting travel and locking down dozens of major cities. It has been estimated that more than 50 million people in China are living in a state of near siege, and that hundreds of millions more have been forced to limit travel and work from home.

According to an update from mainland authorities on Thursday morning , China has recorded more than 28,000 confirmed cases and 563 deaths. To date, there are only 300 known cases, and only two deaths, outside mainland China.

The streams include replays of live performances from previous music festivals featuring more than 70 musicians and bands, including rappers Kafe.Hu and Tizzy T, rock acts Birdstriking and Re-TROS, and New Pants. These are mixed up with individual videos and messages from the acts.

Audiences can participate by using Bilibili’s so-called ‘bullet chat’ function. Bullet chatting or bullet texting, which displays user comments on screen on top of the video feed, is hugely popular in China. “(The function) recreates some of the excitement and unpredictable feel of a live concert,” said Bilibili. “The online event is intended to give viewers a sense of community and fun of being at a large event while they may be stuck at home, isolated from friends and coworkers.”

Bullet chatting over music performance

“Some artists have also been invited to livestream their lives while staying at home during the outbreak such as cooking, exercising, playing games and many other fun ways to kill time. The cooking segments will be streaming during the evening around dinnertime,” said a Bilibili spokesman. Peak simultaneous viewing hit 480,000 on Wednesday.

The Strawberry Music Festival, organized by Modern Sky, one of China’s biggest indie labels, has been held in most years since 2009. It has taken in different cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Changchun, and Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus outbreak.

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