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China Arts & Entertainment

Karaoke in the Digital Age: China’s M-Bar Public Karaoke Rooms

Chinese company M-Bar has thought of a new solution for people who love karaoke but are too shy to sing in front of a crowd. M-Bar’s private self-service karaoke booths, located in shopping malls across the country, are all the rage in China now. More than just a karaoke box, it’s a recording studio and a place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

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Chinese company M-Bar (@友唱Mbar) has thought of a new solution for people who love karaoke but are too shy to sing in front of a crowd. M-Bar’s private self-service karaoke booths, located in shopping malls across the country, are all the rage in China now. More than just a karaoke box, it’s a recording studio and a place to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the big city. With its fully WeChat-based service, this is what karaoke 2.0 looks like in China today.

A new trend is taking mainland China by storm as private karaoke boxes are popping up in malls and others places. The so-called M-Bar (友唱Mbar) karaoke rooms allow people to sing along to their favorite music and record themselves to share their own songs with friends.

The rooms are more than just a karaoke box; they offer a place for people to step away from the hustle and bustle of the big city life. The tiny rooms are air-conditioned and have a mobile charge station.

The M-Bar karaoke boxes are fully based on China’s super app WeChat (Weixin in Chinese). M-Bar users need to have Wechat, WeChat wallet, and access to wifi or 4G in order to connect with the computer. The booth’s main touchscreen shows a QR-code that can be scanned with WeChat, after which your profile will pop up on the screen.

WeChat and M-Bar are fully integrated. After connecting with your profile, M-Bar automatically stores your recordings in the app during your KTV session.

The KTV booths offer a large selection of songs in multiple languages (Chinese, English, Korean, Japanese). After selecting a song, you scan its QR code and pay through WeChat pay. Songs can be separately selected (12 RMB/1.7$ per song/recording) or you can pay for all-you-can-sing per half hour or hour.

Your song recordings can be played from with WeChat. You can also share them with friends or delete them from within the app.

From home you can keep enjoying your M-Bar experience, as you can connect with other M-Bar users through the M-Bar WeChat home and listen to your friend’s singing. The app also shows the nearest M-Bars in your neighbourhood and allows users to book a booth in advance.

The M-Bar WeChat app shows the nearby booths and allows users to book a room in advance.

Chinese media started reporting about the newest “digital karaoke trend” at the beginning of this year, although it has been around for longer.

The karaoke booths were first launched in 2015, backed by the Ubox group (友宝集团). The M-Bar company (@友唱Mbar) is based in Xiamen, China. It is an entertainment brand that focuses on games and KTV.

The recent popularity of M-Bar is clearly visible on Chinese social media. On Weibo, hundreds of netizens share pictures and recordings of their recent M-Bar visits.

Besides all of its digital entertainment 2.0 features, one of the reasons why the mini KTV booth have become so popular is its game element. Friends can compete in singing contests as their skills are rated; M-Bar awards points for hitting the good points at the end of every song. It also shows a big “bad” when you are singing out of tune.

Now that the mini KTV booths have become a hype in mainland China, M-Bar will also go abroad. According to United Daily News, the company will also launch its booths in Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan.

Check out our latest Weivlog on this new trend in the featured video.

– By Manya Koetse

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©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Arts & Entertainment

CCTV Spring Festival Gala 2018 (Live Blog)

It’s time for the CCTV 2018 New Year’s Gala – follow the highlights and the low points here.

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It is time for the CCTV Spring Festival Gala, one of the most-watched, most-discussed, and most mocked lived television events in the world, taking place on the Lunar New Year’s Eve. What’s on Weibo discusses the ins & outs of the 2018 edition and the social media frenzy surrounding it in this live blog.

The biggest live televised event in the world, the CCTV New Year’s Gala, also known as the Spring Festival Gala or Chunwan (春晚), is a true social media spectacle. On February 15th 2018, the 36th edition of the 4-hour-long live production is taking place.

The show, that is organized and produced by the state-run CCTV since 1983, is not just a way for millions of viewers to celebrate the Lunar New Year (除夕); it is also an important opportunity for the Communist Party to communicate official ideology to the people and to showcase the nation’s top performers.

Watch the live stream here on What’s on Weibo (if you have no access to YouTube, please check the CCTV live stream here).

What’s on Weibo provides you with the ins & outs of the 2018 Gala and its social media frenzy, with updates before, during and after the show. Follow our liveblog below (we recommend you keep your browser open – you’ll hear a ‘beep’ when updated). (Note: this live blog is now closed, thank you!).

By Manya Koetse, with contributions via WeChat from Boyu Xiao, Diandian Guo, and Tim Peng

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

If you enjoy What’s on Weibo and support the way we report the latest trends in China, we would appreciate your donation. It does not need to be much; we can use every penny to help pay for the upkeep, maintenance, and betterment of this site. See this page for more information.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Comic & Games

Chinese Media Ascribe ‘Traveling Frog’ Game Hype to China’s Low Birth Rates

Is the Traveling Frog more like a husband or like a baby? It’s a topic of debate on Weibo.

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The Japanese mobile game ‘Traveling Frog’ is a hit among young working – mainly female – adults in China. According to various Chinese media, the ‘virtual frog’ fills a void in a society that faces year-on-year declining birth rates.

“Has your frog returned home yet?” – it is a somewhat odd question that has become normal since the ‘Traveling Frog’ (旅行青蛙/旅かえる) mobile game has become all the rage in China.

In the Traveling Frog game, that is now dominating China’s online mobile gaming charts, players have to help a little frog prepare for his travels across Japan.

The app is characterized by its unique design and revolves around a frog who lives in a stone cave and goes on frequent trips. Once he goes traveling, the frog comes back with local delicacies and snapshots of his adventures – but players are never sure how long their virtual friend stays away from home.

With its cute design and stress-free strategy, the hype surrounding Traveling Frog is somewhat comparable to that of the Tamagotchi in the 1990s and early 2000s. The frog, which players can give its own name, is like a mobile cyber pet that players have to keep an eye on and take care of.

Although the game was initially meant for young girls, it is now a hit amongst young working adults, mainly women.

 
A Virtual Baby
 

Over the past week, various Chinese media outlets have connected the success of the game to China’s low birth rates. Caijing.com writes: “Facing higher house prices, intensive jobs, the collapse of the [hierarchical] pyramid family structure, and huge medical and educational costs, we can no longer deny the reality that more and more young people are choosing not to get married and not to have children. And ‘nursing a frog’ is one kind of psychological substitute for ‘nursing a baby.'”

The news site reports that the obsession of some people over their frog is comparable to a parent’s worries over a child; players are so upset when their frog does not return home during the night, that they cannot sleep.

Despite the shift from China’s One Child Policy to the Two Child Policy, China’s birth rates have been declining year-on-year; 17.23 million newborns were added to China’s population last year – 630,000 less than the year before.

China News also reports about the deep attachment some players show for their virtual pet, and suggest that the Traveling Frog is a “low-cost way” in which people can “fill an emotional gap” in their lives.

 
Baby or Husband?
 

The suggestion that the virtual frog is like a baby has stirred discussions on Weibo about the matter, with some wondering if the frog really is like a baby, or if he is more like a friend, partner, or husband; the matter in itself has become an online squabble between netizens and media.

According to gamer’s platform 17173 (@17173游戏网), the designer of the game, Mayuko Mura (村真裕子), recently refuted the idea that the traveling frog is like a child. In an interview, she said: “For Japanese players, the frog is actually more like their husband, who goes on business trips and then comes home with some local specialties and photos.”

Mura Mayuko, the game’s designer.

Many Chinese netizens were not too happy with the explanation. “If my husband would stay away a night and a day, I’d be infuriated!”, some said. “So now you’re telling me I’m raising a guy?!”, others commented.

The interview even led some people to wonder about the butterfly that is often depicted on the snapshots the frog sends players from his travels, suspecting she represents his mistress.

Is the butterfly on the snapshots in fact the frog’s mistress?

But according to news outlet Pear Video, Mura’s words have been misinterpreted. In a recorded phone conversation, she does say that for many Japanese players, the frog is more like a ‘husband,’ but that the original intention of the game was never to turn the frog into anything but itself.

“We just want players to freely enjoy the game and turn the frog’s role into whatever they want,” one of the game’s developers told Pear Video.

One author on Weibo (@魔力的真髓) reflects on the idea that the Traveling Frog apparently plays a different role in Japan than in China, and writes: “How comfortable it must be to be a husband in Japan, where you don’t have to do anything around the house, your wife serves you, and then you just take off with the things your wife prepared for you, and go out and seek an extramarital affair.”

“Whatever, the island nation turns it into a husband, we turn it into a child,” one pragmatic netizen concludes. Another Weibo user adds: “What’s the difference – husbands nowadays are like babies anyway.”

Others commenting on the issue, however, are too occupied with the real important matters: “It’s been three days, and he still isn’t back,” one unhappy commenter writes. Another one has the same worries: “All I want to know is why my baby has gone traveling for a week, and still hasn’t come home..”

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2017

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