Entertainment-education in media convergence: How Super-Vocal and its fan texts influence fans’ high-brow music knowledge acquisition and attendance intentions


Entertainment-education (E-E) interventions refer to the intentional placement of educational information in entertainment texts to influence audiences’ knowledge acquisition, attitudes, and behaviors. Current E-E literature mainly concentrates on political communication and health communication. Heeding the call for attention to variability among E-E interventions, this study investigates the effects of entertainment messages on high-brow music education using the case of Super-Vocal, a popular Chinese operatic and musical singing competition show launched in 2018.

Previous studies on attendance at high-brow music events focused on the effects of long-term and systematic arts education. Few studies have examined how short-term exposure to educational issues in media contents influences people’s high-brow music participation. Therefore, this study investigates how fans of Super-Vocal acquire high-brow music knowledge and music attendance intention by consuming the original and fan-generated texts of the program. To explore the mechanism, this study examines the mediating role of fans’ self-educational behaviors: information-seeking and online discussion about related issues. This study also tests the knowledge gap effects in the E-E of Super-Vocal.

The study distributed an online questionnaire on Super-Vocal’s “super-topic,” [i]
an interest-based community for online groups on Sina Weibo[ii]. A total of 756 questionnaires were recovered, yielding 754 valid cases.

Results of regression analyses showed that fans who watched more serials of original texts acquired more high-brow music knowledge, whilst the use of fan-generated texts was not a significant predictor. Both original texts and fan texts use were positively associated with fans’ intention to attend live operas and musicals.

In terms of the indirect effects, both original and fan texts can indirectly predict knowledge acquisition and art attendance intentions via information-seeking behaviors. Online discussion was a significant mediator only when opera and musical consumption was the dependent variable.

This study employed professional music training background as a moderator to investigate the “knowledge gap.” Results showed that the direct effects of original texts and fan texts were not conditioned by professional music training background. In terms of the mediated moderation effects, the indirect effects of original and fan texts on opera and musical consumption are larger for those who never received professional music training. Similar effects were not found when knowledge acquisition was the dependent variable.

This study revealed that, as a serious music competition variety show,
has significant E-E effects for its fans’ high-brow music knowledge acquisition and arts attendance intentions through both original texts and fan texts consumption. The E-E effects of high art variety shows in the era of media convergence are achieved through the production of official texts and through participatory consumption and self-education by the fans. We also found that no knowledge gap existed between people with and without professional music training, echoing the democratic nature of E-E.

[i] Details about Super topic can be found in: https://www.whatsonweibo.com/what-are-weibos-super-topics/

[ii] Sina weibo is a Chinese microblogging site. It is one of the largest social media platforms in China with 497 million monthly active users. It is also an important online community for fan practices in China.