TikTok’s live, interactive virtual concert with The Weeknd on Aug. 7 was a massive hit.
According to the social media platform, the concert raised $350,000 for the Equal Justice Initiative by selling new and limited Weeknd x TikTok merchandise. The nonprofit is dedicated to ending mass incarceration in America, challenging racial and economic injustice, and protecting human rights for the U.S.’s most marginalized groups.
The event also brought in over two million total unique viewers, and, at its peak, had 275,000 concurrent viewers, marking a new record for TikTok. In addition, videos that users shared with the hashtag #TheWeekndEXP amassed over 1.3 billion video views.
For The Weeknd Experience, the singer materialized in digital-avatar form to play his hit songs like “Blinding Lights,” and also performed a version of “In Your Eyes” with special guest Doja Cat. The event was structured with a loose narrative, where The Weeknd “led fans through a hallucinatory XR dream world,” according to a press release. Fans were also able to vote in the comments to help guide the experience’s visual theme. Abel Tesfaye also premiered new music for his fans.
“The Weeknd Experience transformed Abel’s music into an immersive and interactive world,” Isabel Quinteros, TikTok senior manager of music partnerships and artist relations, said in the press release. “It’s so important to keep fans engaged and entertained with innovative music events during the pandemic, and I think the Experience did that while also serving as a ‘thank you’ from The Weeknd to the TikTok community for their support of his music.”
The Weeknd’s songs “Blinding Lights,” from his most recent album After Hours, has inspired over 1.5 million TikTok videos and even led to the #BlindingLightsChallenge.
While TikTok clearly has an impressive reach, Donald Trump is trying to squash its success by issuing an executive order that bans the app from doing any business dealings in the U.S. However, the platform is now reportedly planning to sue Trump over the ban.
The Weeknd also extended his philanthropic efforts to the victims of last week's terrifying explosion in Beirut with a $300,000 donation to Global Aid for Lebanon.
The generous contribution from the “Blinding Lights” singer comes days after his manager and XO Records CEO Wassim “Sal” Slaiby and wife, Rima Fakih, announced their own $250,000 pledge to the global campaign. According to Variety, both were born in Lebanon. Slaiby was a teenager when he emigrated to Canada, and Fakih moved to the U.S. as a child.
Slaiby expressed his appreciation for The Weeknd's gratitude on Instagram, while also mentioning the $50,000 given to the Global Aid for Lebanon by Live Nation Entertainment President and CEO Michael Rapino.