Twenty-three-year-old Zhao Pengbo has just graduated from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where he studied to be a flight attendant. Unlike his classmates, Zhao has no immediate plans to start a career which, while seeming glamorous—especially to those who haven’t traveled abroad—can be difficult to advance within. Instead, Zhao has decided to see if he can use his natural charm to make a living as a “cyber anchor,” broadcasting himself singing and chatting with fans. He tapes live shows in a special recording room for three hours day, earning around 5,000 RMB a month.
“It’s a trend and fashionable for young people to try [online broadcasting]. Nowadays the market is growing rapidly,” says Zhao. “I like it because this job is more flexible. I can have the time and space for myself after work. My parents think it’s not even work…i don’t care.”
Fellow anchor Meiko, also from Shenyang, was working as a sales assistant and gym instructor before she discovered Kuaishou and decided she had what it takes to host her own show. She has joined a production company for live streamers which has hired about 30 young anchors, mainly female and provides them equipment and studio space to work. Other than a basic salary of around 2,000 RMB, a top anchor can earn around 20,000 to 50,0000 RMB a month, mainly from payment from their fans, so their survival is dependent on popularity and consistent work.
Meiko uses a professional studio to broadcast her live shows. Companies such as hers are springing up all over China to provide working spaces for aspiring Kuaishou celebrities