I was selected to appear on screen in the Justin Bieber WAVE interactive virtual fan experience, and here is what I learned.
Believe it or not (pun intended), I am a Justin Bieber fan. So when Wave XR announced that Biebs was planning an ‘interactive virtual experience’ and that there was a competition for a select number of fans to be integrated into the show, I entered straight away (though when I applied, I never thought I would win a coveted spot). To my great surprise, I was selected. As much as I was excited as a fan, I was also keen to use the opportunity to learn as a marketeer – creating engagement in the Metaverse, and virtual entertainment is a hot topic for brands, artists and us at Fuse.
So at 2 am on Friday 19th November (6 pm 18th November LA time), I logged into a private Zoom link from my laptop with 100 other fans from all over the world, and this is what I learnt.
Fandom is Fam-dom
Fans still create strong online communities and friendships. There were 100 fans selected to be part of Bieber’s show, and we were connected through both Zoom and a group Instagram chat group. From the very beginning, the group genuinely bonded over their love of Biebs and shared moments of excitement during the virtual show.
The show was on Thursday, and the chat has continued over the weekend within the group, saying how happy they were to connect with people that share the same passion for JB, wanting to stay in touch and keep the conversation going.
Fan experiences have evolved beyond watching passively
Through the rise of streaming during Covid, it’s become challenging to stand out with a point of difference and drive fans to tune in. Virtual experiences have become more about involving fans and creating a moment with them and the artists, rather than just appointments to view.
The ‘interactive’ element was conceptually simple, and the Beliebers loved it. My fellow competition winners got to appear in a virtual world and interact with a virtual Bieber at critical moments during the show, appearing on screen, and our group chat was filled with expressions of pure joy when the fans saw themselves appear on the screen. But all fans that tuned were invited to interact by sharing messages displayed on-screen with their name during the performance.
Virtual experiences will not replace live shows.
Virtual experiences are supplementary to the live experience and should be viewed by brands and artists as an add-on, not a replacement.
While fans were highly engaged and delighted every moment of the virtual experience, on our group chat, their excitement always linked back to how much they can’t wait to see a Justin show IRL and to share info on which shows they had purchased or planned to purchase tickets and meet & greets for.
Tech has got some way to way to go.
While the virtual experience was interactive, the tech is not yet fully immersive without the need for specialist hardware (e.g. VR Headsets).
Fans LOVED the show; they commented on how realistic the avatar was, loved the dance moves and saw fellow fan interactions. However, personally (and this may be my age), I found it hard to feel that same emotional connection to the artist that I do from a live gig.
Brands are not yet harnessing the full possibilities of the Metaverse
The Metaverse has unlimited opportunities to reach fans authentically, whether simply offering the fan experiences or building bespoke interactive experiences into the virtual world and genuinely adding value to the occasion.
One brand partner involved played an advertisement pre-show, which feels like a missed opportunity for both JB and the fans.
If you’d like to speak to Fuse about how your brand can play a meaningful and authentic role in entertainment – email us at [email protected]com or drop us a line in the comments below.