Star Live sparks joy and warmth in first overseas livestream
Picture this: It's winter in Taipei and the 10 deg C cold is biting, especially on a rooftop bar where you are exposed to the elements.
Yet, the mood has never been warmer.
Singaporean e-commerce platform Star Live held its inaugural overseas livestream over the Christmas season last month, and TNP played witness behind the scenes.
Star Live is the brainchild of actor Terence Cao, 56, and director Jack Neo, 63.
Joining them in Taipei were familiar faces from the local showbiz scene, such as Peter Yu, Jason Oh, Collin Chee, Tracy Lee and Yutaki Ong. Taiwanese stars Bai Yun, Di Ying and Joseph Ma also made special guest appearances on separate nights.
It was awe-inspiring to see the amount of hard work that went on behind the scenes.
Beyond the on-screen banter was meticulous research into the products to be sold, planning how to conduct each livestream, darting about to record orders on a laptop while the show was ongoing, and stealing bites of dinner in between.
"Jack is probably the funniest man in Singapore, so when you have him directing, it’s not a problem," Cao said of his co-founder.
There's no question that the pair are prominent faces, even in Taipei. They were easily recognised by locals and Singaporean tourists alike, who often stopped them on the streets for photos.
The rest of the team contribute just as much to Star Live's growth and success. Take super multi-taskers Lee and Ong, for example, who was seen taking care of administrative work with the utmost diligence every night, as the camera rolled.
The chemistry among the Star Live team was a sight to behold. Jokes and punchlines sparked rambunctious laughter, creating an atmosphere where it never felt like you were being sold a product but rather, listening to friends rave about trusty recommendations. The cold climate had nothing on the infectious energy that warmed and inspired in equal measure.
Why did Star Live choose Taiwan for its first overseas venture?
Cao explained that the country boasts rich agriculture, promising delicious eats. Star Live also collaborates with Taiwan's leading livestreaming platforms to sell quality and trusted local products such as tea, biscuits and skincare.
"It's an efficient process with our Taiwanese counterparts handling quality control and logistics, saving our artistes from the tedious task of packing and such," said Cao.
“There are both on- and off-screen partnerships, and opportunities for all.”
Cao also revealed choosing the period for its Christmas backdrop, adding: "It's a feast for the eyes.”
DISRUPTING THE LIVESTREAMING INDUSTRY
But what differentiates Star Live from its rivals?
Star Live is not only an alternate source of revenue for celebrities, but also a good way for them to "maintain their craft", said Cao, who welcomes artistes from all walks of life, regardless of their backgrounds.
He said: "There are some platforms that are too focused on sales. It’s all about sell, sell sell. But at Star Live, it’s about the artiste’s craft.
"Shopping is about creating an experience, not just selling products. We want to bring an element of entertainment, that's how we set ourselves apart from other livestreamers."
This is evident in Star Live's many broadcasts, with each team member playing their part.
There is plenty of teasing and playful taunting, with Oh often being the brunt of jokes. Cao, the sole full-timer, is a constant and reliable presence, staying onscreen throughout the platform's three-hour Taipei streams three evenings in a row.
Equally noteworthy is the personal touch that Star Live brings to viewers. For instance, Lee is lauded by both her colleagues and the audience for her in-depth knowledge of nutrition and skincare when the team peddles beauty products.
Besides acknowledging fans and calling out their names on air, Star Live gave away tickets to Neo's upcoming film Money No Enough 3, during one livestream. Customers who placed their orders in December were also promised they will receive the goods before the Lunar New Year.
Cao said: "That's the beauty of livestreaming. It's accessible, the prices are good and you can buy things that you can't purchase elsewhere.
"We serve the brands and role-play for content during livestreaming. It's like a performance. That's how we stay committed as a company."
GUEST STARS WEIGH IN
Taiwanese entertainer Bai, who does not host his own livestreams, said he enjoyed working with Star Live and found the experience refreshing. He praised the teamwork, noting how the members got to share their expertise on a wide range of goods.
The 53-year-old, whose real name is Li Kuo-hung, explained: "It's tiring to livestream solo, so I don't host any on my own despite receiving offers. I think it hurts the throat too much, plus you have to introduce so many products. Livestreaming is really not easy and you have to do it three to four days a week, which is very tough.
"But here, there are a lot of people bantering back and forth. Among all the laughter and fun, we also recommend good and affordable products to viewers, which I think is a good thing."
Fellow veteran celebrity Ma, 52, said it was his first time participating in such an event and spoke just as highly of the collaboration.
The former member of 1990s boy group Red Hot Boys told TNP: "We might not know one another well but we are all actors in the same industry, so I think we worked pretty well together.
"I feel that livestreaming allows us to engage with the audience in a way that traditional media doesn’t. When you are filming a drama series or a movie as an actor, you don't really get to interact with your viewers. Livestreaming not only bridges this distance, but it also lets me share my experiences regarding different products with everyone.”
Asked if he had any encouraging words for Star Live, Ma said: "I hope they come to Taiwan more often."