The 25-year-old pearl harvester, Xinda Zhan, has raked in 30 million yuan ($4.4 million) this year — six times the average annual amount the family business typically earns.
What a creative way to flex some entrepreneurial mussel!
Zhan, otherwise known as the “Pearl Bro”, harvests the mussels and then brings them to his workshop.
The viewers are allowed to purchase the mussels at 58 yuan ($8.48) each. Viewers don’t know how many pearls each mussel will yield, and the excitement of discovery is what appeals to those who make a purchase.
“I think over 90% of people in China, or the world, haven’t seen the harvesting of pearls. Even some locals in this pearl town haven’t seen it either,” Zhan says in a video released by BBC News. “They don’t know there could be dozens of pearls in one mussel, or that the pearls grow in the mussel. So I came up with this idea to live stream the harvesting of pearls from live mussels. To my surprise it became very popular.”
The success is consistent with the rapid growth of the live-stream market, which is worth an estimated $3 billion yuan (more than $442 million).
Zhan attributes modern society’s loneliness to his mind-boggling earnings.
“Younger generations are used to this mobile world. Live streaming is a way for the customer to communicate and accompany each other. It’s a new way to make friends and socialise. Young people are facing lots of pressure. We feel more lonely. Many of us are the only kids of the family. We have very few siblings and even less friends,” Zhan said.
“Watching a live stream is a good way to kill time. It doesn’t matter if you purchase anything or not. Tens of thousands of viewers chatting together is an interesting thing in and of itself.”