Music Reviews

TikTok Redefines Summer Weeknds with its First-Ever Interactive Augmented Reality Broadcast

As quarantined individuals navigate summer without live entertainment or their typical social activities, TikTok remains the go-to app for playful choreography, original music promotion, and everyday visual content. Self-defined as the “leading destination for short-form mobile video,” TikTok currently is one of the fastest-growing social media platforms, with over 800 million active users worldwide. Typically, the app only permits users to create 15 second videos, but it made an exception for The Weeknd.

Collaborating with Strangeloop Studios, XO, Republic Records, and on-the-rise virtual entertainment mogul Wave, TikTok produced its first-ever interactive augmented reality broadcast, “The Weeknd Experience,” last Friday via its mobile app.

Serving as a fundraiser for the Equal Justice Initiative while simultaneously providing fans with festival nostalgia, the 20 minute livestream concert included a heart-pounding set by pop superstar The Weeknd. The performance featured Abel Tesfaye’s avatar in a “Blinding Lights” fashion while dressed in his Billboard chart-topping After Hours persona.

Each song transported viewers into The Weeknd’s complex psyche through multi-dimensional neon visuals, artistic animation, and electrifying cinematography. The set list’s brevity held users’ undivided attention for its entirety, with an ongoing comments section and screaming Gen Z audience for additional interaction.

Rather than simply highlighting preplanned visual effects, the broadcast asked people to vote on each song’s atmosphere, ranging from fog to fire and sparks. Users’ TikTok handles and comments also appeared in the background of The Weeknd’s performance, serving as urban billboards in one scene and static lightning bolts in another frame.

The post-apocalyptic augmented reality presentation profoundly displayed The Weeknd’s After Hours theme in a unique light, and the fast-paced, ever-evolving direction by Daniel Sierra authentically captured the groundbreaking LP’s viral essence among fans.

Although The Weeknd only performed four of his hit songs (“Pray for Me,” “Blinding Lights,” “Save Your Tears,” and the “In Your Eyes” remix), he provided listeners with a preview of an unreleased single and inserted a surprise cameo from “Say So” artist Doja Cat in the form of a cat avatar, successfully leaving viewers wanting more while restricted to the comforts of their homes during the ever-present pandemic.

It appears safe to say that TikTok is here to stay amidst Chinese parent company ByteDance’s coercion into selling the social media powerhouse to an American business. Despite the President’s executive order and ban of the app’s use within national borders, “The Weeknd Experience” successfully raised $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative with over two million viewers tuning into the concert special.

If Microsoft acquires TikTok, then perhaps its innovative augmented reality broadcast will function as the catalyst for many more in-app livestream performances to come.

Due to a copyright claim by Universal Music Group, “The Weeknd Experience” is no longer available to stream on YouTube. However, you can still check out the director’s cut tomorrow at 12:00PM PT / 3:00PM ET through YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Don’t forget to tune in! Trailer below:

Featured image provided by TikTok


  1. Okay, this is insanely cool. It’s incredible to see how AR is used these days, from interactive art displays to festivals to educational simulations. Glad to see it used for fundraising purposes too!


  2. I’m glad to see artists like The Weeknd leveraging TikTok to do new and exciting things in music. In a world where huge corporations and record labels have created a barrier to entry for aspiring artists, platforms like TikTok and AR level the playing field in such a competitive space. Great read!


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