With the advent of social media apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, people are now so quick and ready to share snippets of their lives.
From sharing photos and videos, people are now transitioning to live streaming apps – which people love for its raw, unfiltered content.
Earlier this year, a new live streaming app called BeLive rolled into the social media scene.
Like its Bigo Live counterpart, it lets you watch other people (strangers, really) do their thing. It can be as utterly random as watching them play computer games like DotA, or watching them stuff themselves silly with a wide spread of food (popularised in Korea as ‘mukbang’).
Live-streaming apps make the process more convenient and accessible as everything is done through a mobile phone, which means streamers can start broadcasting from wherever they are with minimal set-up and equipment, and viewers can also jump in any time.
As I flip open the BeLive app, I see videos neatly categorised according to interests, ranging from entertainment to food, which makes for easy browsing for the users.
And here’s the thing about BeLive: it is a reward-centric live-streaming app that claims to pay their live streamers for every engagement that they receive from their fans.
In other words, viewers can pay real money to send virtual gifts to their favourite streamers, and in turn these streamers can cash out these virtual gifts.
So how lucrative can this ‘hobby’ really be? I spoke to two of BeLive’s top streamers, and asked them if it’s really that easy to make a quick buck on this trending platform.
Zina Ng, 18
Zina Ng goes by the online moniker @thatszeena on BeLive.
The 18-year-old Ngee Ann Polytechnic student currently majors in Arts Business Management, but she freelances as a singer and model in her free time.
She shared that BeLive wasn’t her first live streaming stint – she actually started out with another similar app called Bigo Live.
“It was interesting and a bit awkward at first because the first time I streamed was in school, and my classmates were judging me as to why I was always talking and laughing to my phone,” she said with a laugh.
But the embarrassment soon wore off because the appeal of live streaming was much stronger. She liked the idea of making new friends online, and conversing with others in real-time.
It also helps to bridge the gap between virtual and reality, and fans who are usually unable to chat or get close to their idol now have a chance to get ‘closer’, she added.
When asked why she decided to jump ship, she said she was simply curious as to how different the user experience would be like on another platform.
“BeLive offers user-friendly features and there’s also this function that allows you to record your stream at the end, so that people who missed out on the live stream are still able to rewatch it [at a later timing],” she said.
Zina would log on to BeLive as and when she feels like it, depending on her availability too – “it ranges from once every few weeks, to [almost] everyday.”
And when she goes live, she usually sings while playing musical instruments such as the guitar, piano or ukulele.
“I also do ‘story time’, where I rant about my day. Each streaming session lasts at least an hour, but [it really doesn’t feel long at all]. Time passes by real quick when you are streaming!”
And get this: the biggest ‘gift’ she has received so far from a viewer is a… mansion – though admittedly it isn’t a real property.
But in the world of BeLive, this mansion is worth $79.99 and is the most expensive gift. Other gifts include a basic “love” gift that costs one cent, while flowers go for $4 and a diamond ring for $25.
This is to encourage live streamers to create quality content, as the more fans and gifts they accumulate, the more financially rewarding the platform can be for them.
A streamer takes 60 per cent of the gift’s value, while BeLive gets the remaining 40 per cent. In total, Zina actually earns an average of a whopping $1,900 a month!
“Sometimes people come in and they’ll send me a significant amount of gifts. Also, I hit a certain amount of views each stream, which entitles me to more incentive. Cashing out also allows me to convert the gifts that people send me into real money!”
Veekher Wong, 24
Veekher Wong recently graduated from Nanyang Technological University and is currently working, though she declined to reveal the nature of her job.
Unlike Zina, Veekher was very new to live streaming and she was very glad that her first time – on the BeLive app, no less – garnered such positive response.
“I received many gifts for my first stream, and my viewers were really interactive and requested a lot of songs [from me],” said Veekher.
She initially thought this live streaming gig would be a “temporary thing”, but she’s now hooked on it and goes on live quite often to interact with her viewers.
On BeLive, she usually plays the guitar and performs covers of English and Mandarin songs. So far, she has earned an average of $1,500 from donations and BeLive’s incentives, which pay streamers for hitting certain viewership targets.
Like Zina, Veekher too has received a mansion. She was so shocked when she first received it and immediately asked the viewer for 3 song requests to sing it for him.
“Nowadays, I stream at least once a week and usually get around 200 viewers for an hour-long stream,” she said, adding that it sometimes goes beyond an hour if the viewers really want her to stay.
She also said that the audience on BeLive is much more interactive than other live-streaming platforms like Facebook Live or Instagram.
When asked to impart some tips to those who wants to try out live streaming, Veekher said, “If it’s your first time and you feel uncomfortable [streaming], you can play some background music while chatting with your fans. If you can sing or play any musical instruments, feel free to show them your talent!”
Live Streaming Is Like “Virtual Busking”
When live streaming first took off in Singapore, one problem quickly arose.
Live streamers were being subjected to racial slurs and sexual come-ons, including requests for them to “perform” for the camera.
Zina herself has been a victim of such sexual requests. “I do get inappropriate comments asking me to strip during live streaming. But I usually just ignore their comments unless it gets overboard – that’s when I will block them instead.”
The app now actively censors unsavoury content through the use of a moderation team that checks on every stream, coupled with image-recognition software that can pick up banned content such as smoking or nudity.
In line with this, BeLive also uses in-app prompts to inform users on what is appropriate content for streaming, and live streamers who flout the rules risk permanent banning.
BeLive is strict against streaming provocative content and wants to focus the draw of the app on “virtual busking” instead.
“The popular stream topics we see are singing performances, make-up tutorials and just streamers talking about their lives, interacting with their audience – like having a conversation,” said BeLive CEO Kenneth Tan.
For those not too sure on how to live stream, BeLive has Stream Managers who can help you start. You can download the BeLive app on the Apple store or Google Play and start sharing your own live video!
Featured Image Credit: Zina Ng, Veekher Wong