Monday, 28 May 2018

The money man behind China’s internet showgirls

Afrida Ahmed

One powerful man in the multi-billion dollar live streaming business is about to change 24-year-old Lele Tao’s life forever, reports BBC.It’s a multi-billion business dominated by big corporations but top stars don’t stream from their bedrooms. Lele performs in front of a webcam in a tiny studio. She sings, chats with her fans and plays games. Lele makes US $37000/Month through virtual gifting. But the money she earns doesn’t just belong to her. Her millionaire boss, Max controls everything she does online and they are about to clash.

Lele started live streaming when she 18 and now she has 1 million+ fans. One of China’s biggest live streaming agencies is behind her success. MJ’s CEO MAX and his wife spotted LELE in 2012. The owner said that they were producing a programme on the Tencent internet portal. He noticed that Lele Tao was experienced. She left a great impression on him after their first collaboration. But according to him she wouldn’t have developed much if she stayed with her previous agency. So he tried to poach her. After persuading her a lot, he eventually bought her from her agency for US $740.

Lele was only making US $3000- $4000 per month when she first joined MJ. Max said that Lele went on to become the top streamer on her platform. She is the first streamer MJ has developed from the bottom to the top of the industry.But why is live streaming so popular in China? The reason why live streaming is so popular in China is because it’s closely connected to thousands of years of culture and history.In ancient China, people used to perform for money on the streets. Max used to go to cabarets at the Bund with his father at the age of 15 or 16. Singers would perform there and people would tip singers they liked to encourage them. In the current internet era, young Chinese people live fully digital lives. That’s why there is a market for a variety of performances on the internet. Live streaming is the latest form of online entertainment. The audience is happy to pay streamers for their performances that in turn benefit financially from their work. This is a natural thing in China. Max takes a big share of streamer’s income but now he wants Lele to sign a new contract. Lele and Max had an argument regarding the contract. Soon the situation escalated and Max followed Lele to her studio. After a closed door conversation, he stormed out and had shut down Lele’s channel. Lele rushed home in tears.Our channel asked Max why Lele was so upset. He said that when streamers are in a bad mood they shut their channels and resumes them once they get better. But later he admitted that it was because of her contract. He said that Lele hadn’t signed her new contract and they wanted to get her to sign that day. The 8 year contract would allow MJ to take 50% of Lele’s income. He would also have controls on her life. If Lele wished to terminate the contract then she would have to pay MJ US $1.2 Million.

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