ByteDance rival Kuaishou launches its first offline venture: a karaoke lounge

Coco Feng
·4-min read

Kuaishou Technology, operator of the Tencent-backed Kuaishou short video app, has opened its first offline business: a karaoke lounge.

The 200-square-metre K-Station, located in a busy commercial district of Guangzhou, made a soft opening last Friday and plans to officially launch during the summer school holiday, according to a Kuaishou representative.

Customers can sing on a public stage or entertain themselves in a soundproof cubicle equipped with a screen, microphones and earphones. Singers using the private room can also sync their activity with the Kuaishou app, uploading a video of their performance along with stickers and filters.

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Customers at K-Station can sing on a public stage or entertain themselves in a soundproof cubicle equipped with a screen, microphones and earphones. Photo: Handout
Customers at K-Station can sing on a public stage or entertain themselves in a soundproof cubicle equipped with a screen, microphones and earphones. Photo: Handout

The company “is preparing to launch [the KTV service] in other Chinese cities,” Kuaishou said in a written response to the Post.

China’s offline KTV industry, along with cinemas, concert halls and other collective activities, have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic which has required social distancing to help prevent the spread of the disease. In cities like Beijing, karaoke lounges have been closed at the government's request.

Kuaishou to invest 3 billion yuan in Chengdu to build live-streaming headquarters

In May the Guangzhou government said it would “gradually allow” the opening of closed-door recreational spaces if sufficient pandemic prevention measures were implemented.

The Kuaishou initiative is a partnership with KTV operators and is part of a strategy to “make the use of its brand and online traffic to help promote KTV partners, increase their income and resume businesses,” the representative said.

A major rival of TikTok owner ByteDance, Kuaishou promotes itself as a platform for “everyone” and gained early traction in smaller third-and-fourth tier cities. Unlike TikTok, which has aggressively expanded into the mainstream Western market and faced a subsequent backlash, Kuaishou's international version Kwai is popular in Latin America. As of Tuesday it was the most downloaded Android video app in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina, according to App Annie.

The smaller Kuaishou, whose daily active users reached 300 million earlier this year compared with Douyin's 400 million, has been seeking to undercut the ByteDance juggernaut. Its recent moves included an exclusive partnership with the China Central Television (CCTV) Spring Festival Gala in January and securing Taiwanese singer Jay Chou to open his first Chinese social media account in June.

Karaoke, which originated in Japan, allows amateur singers to gather in a lounge and croon along with the instrumental version of a song using a microphone. Lyrics are usually displayed on a video screen.

In recent years, internet innovators have brought the entertainment online. WeSing, a Tencent product, and Changba, backed by Citic Private Equity and Sequoia Capital China, are two companies that have made the recreation digital, free and available for individuals to use at home.

They then took advantage of the online-to-offline trend to build self-service karaoke cubicles in shopping malls and other busy areas. Passers-by can simply “scan” in via the app and use the microphone for a period of time.

The market for this so-called mini karaoke reached 14 billion yuan (US$2 billion) in 2019, with roughly 84,000 cubicles available across China, reaching 200,000 cubicles by 2022 with a market size of 31 billion yuan, according to Shenzhen-based Qianzhan Industry Research Institute.

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