Lifestyle

The Day Li Ziqi Stood Still

Li Ziqi, the most famous Chinese youtuber, hasn't uploaded any new episodes for months. Her company is trying to "kidnap" her. Just like what happened to Taylor Swift a few years ago.

Li Ziqi stopped uploading videos for over three months.

It is not very difficult to imagine what could be found on the Internet when a celebrity anchor who has tens of millions of fans stopped updating – on August 30, 2021, as a party, Li Ziqi issued complaints in oasis (a niche social networking app in China) . And then, the public opinion heat reached the peak:

”It’s a good day for reports and appeals.”

”The lawyer kept the documents. It’s terrible. How good tool capital can be!”

Suddenly, all kinds of rumors have emerged: “Li Ziqi called the police” has become a popular Sina Weibo headlines; Previous guesses such as “health reasons,” “preparing for new topic” and “falling into a scam”, quickly gave way to “capital controls on the production team,” and there were even rumors that capital controls Li Ziqi’s freedom to speak.

Until two weeks later, Li Ziqi’s assistant announced on the social platform that her situation was basically safe, then the rumors of unfounded speculation were temporarily over:

“There seems to be a lot of speculation on the Internet, but I think it’s important to note that Li Ziqi is only temporarily sorting out the problems between the production team and third-party companies. It’s not true that the whole team has been poached. Please do not spread rumors, not to implicate irrelevant people, together to protect our Internet space.”

However, as China’s most popular Vlog, a personal licensing brand which has achieved 1.6 billion yuan in 2020 sales, it is already a fact that Li Ziqi is caught in a commercial dispute. So what brought her career into lockdown? For the grassroots vlogger represented by Li Ziqi, what does this incident reveal about the current situation?

To answer these questions, let’s start with Li Ziqi’s vlogger career.

Her struggle

In 2016, 26-year-old Li Jiajia, released her first vlog:

“Lanzhou beef noodles.”

In the five-minute video, the young vlogger shows the process of making a bowl of beef noodles, one of the most popular meals in China: collecting and processing raw materials, Processing spices and making soup, and most importantly, the whole process from flour to dough to noodles. Although there was no close-up of the meal, the smooth shooting of the finished product still attracted a lot of attention:

With 50 million views and 600,000 likes, the young girl from Mianyang, a village in southern China’s Sichuan province, became famous overnight.

The first production has such good results, continue the same pattern of creation Vlog, it should be so. So, in this small rural courtyard in southern China, Li Jiajia, alias Liziqi, She started her vloger career in an orderly way – chopping wood, planting vegetables, cooking, accompanied by Chinese style BGM, delicate pictures of Chinese rural life, smooth presentation in front of a global audience.

Compared to most shoddy short videos (such as the popular meme trash on Shake Sound), Liziqi’s Vlog content and visual aesthetic are significantly better. Therefore, although the production cycle is relatively long, many viewers who have enjoyed Li Ziqi’s works have said that her vlog is not a one-time viewing of FMCG.

“Elegant.”

That was their comment.

Not only that, in addition to satisfying a large audience (including but not limited to the Chinese) for idyllic life fantasy, for those young people who lives in China’s non-first-tier cities, Li Ziqi’s personal struggle contains an inspirational example. it is also one of the important reasons to promote her to become a top vlogger:

After a series of family upheaval, including her parents’ divorce, her father’s death, being raised by her grandparents and the death of her grandfather, 14-year-old Li Ziqi was no longer financially able to support her studies. Like many young Chinese with similar experiences, she chose to work in cities.

Clearly, Li Ziqi didn’t have much choice of job opportunities – during this period, she basically worked as a waitress, and later played a DJ in a bar. However, this was an uneventful “drop-out girls to work” experience, ended with her grandmother’s serious illness. In order to take care of her elderly relatives, Li Ziqi, who had just settled down in the town, chose to return home. She tried to open a clothing store on Taobao to make a living, however, the cold sales of economic difficulties, once again entangled with the ill-fated country girl.

Everything took a turn in 2014. With the popularity of smartphones, Li Ziqi’s younger brother began encouraging his sister to try vlog. Considering that it could bring traffic to the deserted Taobao shop, Li Ziqi picked up the phone and opened the camera. As for what to shoot, she reflexively recalled her best skills:

Cook.

From a young age, Li Ziqi helped out at her grandfather’s kitchen stove. Under her grandfather’s tutelage, she gradually mastered the cooking skills of many Chinese local cuisine. As it turned out, this childhood skill was a reliable basis for Liziqi’s success as a vlogger.

Of course, relying on these basic skills, it is still not enough to make a global audience favorite food production vlog. Li Ziqi knows that. After accumulating the initial popularity, in addition to change better equipment to improve the image quality, one of her important parts of making vlog is consulting professionals and practicing repeatedly. This is one of the important reasons why Li Ziqi’s video producing time is still very long with the help of the team.

But even so, in today’s industry, it’s still hard to get a lot of attention for quality alone – and so is Li Ziqi. The reason why she was able to become famous in a very short time, the boost of MCN was obviously a factor that could not be ignored.

One plus one is not necessarily two.

Good creators produce high-quality content, and then professional publicity team carry out packaging, promotion and commercial operation. Finally, the creators will realize commercial realization more smoothly, and the publicity team will also get more share. This model similar to brokerage company is the ideal operation state of MCN.

As an indispensable part of Chinese Internet celebrity industry chain, as early as 2019, there were far more than 5,000 MCN companies registered in China. More than 90% of Internet celebrities choose to sign contracts with MCN to enhance their influence.

Li Ziqi is no exception. As a vlogger, a Chinese local food from the grassroots, Li Ziqi became popular in a short period of time, and an MCN organization from Zhejiang Province in China provided a great help -Hangzhou Micro-idea Technology Co.,Ltd.(hereinafter referred to as “Microidea”)。

Founded in 2013,Microidea is an MCN company focusing on new consumer sectors. In July 2021, ByteDance became the Microidea’s investor.

As its most popular and profitable online celebrity, Li Ziqi started to cooperate with Microidea in 2016. Then in April 2017, she produced a swing themed vlog, which received more than 80 million views and a large number of business cooperation opportunities, allowing everyone to see the value of her as a commercial brand. Cooperation began to escalate.

In July 2017, Li Ziqi and Microidea jointly established Sichuan Ziqi Culture Communication Co., LTD. In 2018, Li Ziqi launched its official Flagship store on Taobao, which successively launched traditional Chinese cakes such as rice cake, egg yolk cake and flower cake, as well as local food products such as hot and sour noodles and snail noodles. Among them, the monthly sales of snail noodles on Taobao once exceeded 15 million RMB, and the market response even exceeded a number of traditional brands of the origin of snail noodles.

On the surface, the cooperation between Li Ziqi and Microidea has indeed achieved the ideal goal of “win-win” — but how does this explain what is happening now?

The answer is in the details. As a named brand, the share-holding ratio of Sichuan Ziqi Culture Communication Co., Ltd. is 49% (Li Ziqi) and 51% (Microidea), which means the control is not in the hands of Li Ziqi; meanwhile, despite becoming the face of MCN’s business, she was not included on Microidea’s executive and shareholder lists; Finally, Guangxi Xingliu Food Co., LTD., which produces Li Ziqi named snail noodle, has no equity relationship with her, while Microidea holds 70%.

In other words, although she brought considerable commercial profits, the answer to how much remuneration Li Ziqi received as a party concerned seems not so optimistic. At the same time, hot branded products, obviously, can not get 100% praise, and these complaints from buyers, almost 100% feedback to Li Ziqi as vlogger. Coupled with the contrast brought by the impression of rural idyllic life, she has become the biggest negative public opinion bomb magnet of the whole commercial brand.

Is it all worth it? Maybe only the person involved knows that. However, whatever the truth, Li Ziqi’s decision to stop updating the vlog may have confirmed a lot of speculation.

Unfinished?

Anyway, as a vlogger, the impact of the shutdown on Li Ziqi is obvious: things are just beginning to simmer. In September of this year, “Li Ziqi Stops” became the focus of public opinion on Chinese social media. But as time goes on, after entering October, the topic’s heat obviously reduced, the audience’s interest is getting lower and lower. If it goes on like this, it is hard to say whether it can restore the popularity before the shut down even she restores updating.

On the other hand, for today’s Microidea Li Ziqi remains the most valuable icon of its MCN business, with at least 500 employees relying on this IP-provided position to support their families; Li Ziqi stops, which directly means that their jobs are meaningless, and in the long run, Microidea`s own MCN business will be directly affected.It is a disaster.

Obviously, this lose-lose situation, for the dispute vortex center of Li Ziqi and Microidea, is not a long-term solution. As for how this farce will end, what long-term impact the entire MCN and Internet celebrity industry will have, it’s certainly too early to judge. Only time can tell the truth.

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