This Friday night, many people in China will be stuck at home as they continue to self-quarantine because of the coronavirus outbreak. Music events are canceled, bars are closed and the only deafening sound in clubs is silence. But some music labels and clubs are joining together to introduce “cloud clubbing” on video platforms like Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

Last Friday, one Shanghai club live streamed DJs on Douyin for four hours and earned 700,000 yuan (US$100,400) from 71,000 virtual party-goers that tuned in to watch the show, according to a report by live-streaming industry service platform Zhaihehe. The next night, another club raked in a whopping 2 million yuan (US$286,900) over five hours, the report says.

These cloud clubbing sessions are making money using a common feature on Chinese live-streaming platforms: Users can spend real money on virtual gifts for performers. In this case, Douyin offered a virtual gift that’s become scarce in the real world amid the coronavirus outbreak: Face masks.

DJs from the Shanghai club TAXX rocking virtual face masks on Douyin. (Picture: Screenshot from Douyin)

Despite the odd name, cloud clubbing (aka cloud DJ-ing or cloud disco) isn’t a new concept. Many music events these days are available online. But with millions of people now stranded at home, obeying government directives to prevent infection, many are turning to video platforms to relieve their boredom -- and video platforms are happy to bank on the trend. Local media reported that Douyin’s short video rival Kuaishou is now making deals with clubs across China to stream their shows.

It’s not just clubbing that’s going online, either. Following the coronavirus outbreak, one of China’s biggest music festivals canceled its event last week. To offset some of its losses, Strawberry Music Festival live streamed some performances on popular video platform Bilibili, calling it “Stay at Home Strawberry.”

Everything else is getting done from a couch in China these days, so why not a music festival? (Picture: Screenshot from Bilbili)

Bilibili has also been making deals with music venues and labels to stream events on its platform.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus, which has left more than 1,000 dead and tens of thousands infected, has put many businesses in China in a tough position. The epidemic has also proven to be bad news for movie theaters, with two locally-produced movies skipping theaters to premiere on video platforms.

Other activities are also moving online. Schools have been streaming classes while workers are relying on online office tools. Popular online games have seen such a surge in users that some servers became overloaded. Another hot new trend? Virtual gyms, as people try to stay fit by following along with online exercise videos.