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One Direction’s Liam Payne Plays Free Concert in VR This Wednesday (EXCLUSIVE)

Liam Payne of One Direction fame will play a secret gig to a select audience of fans in London this Wednesday — and fans from around the world will be able to virtually join the gig’s audience: The concert is being broadcast live in virtual reality (VR) by MeldoryVR, free to watch for anyone who owns an Oculus Go or Samsung Gear VR headset via the MelodyVR app on the Oculus store.

“I can’t wait for this show,” said Payne. “For those who are going to be there on the night, it’s going to be amazing… but the fact there will be people from right across the globe watching the live stream via MelodyVR makes it extra special.”

London-based MelodyVR has been streaming concerts and other music programming on demand in VR for a few months now. Payne’s gig will be the first to be shown live by the company, and MelodyVR founder Anthony Matchett told Variety this week that the pop star was the perfect candidate for this inaugural VR live stream. “Liam has always been a great tech enthusiast,” Matchett said. “He has an amazing understanding of VR.”

Like MelodyVR’s previous on-demand shows, Payne’s live gig will give viewers the ability to choose their own vantage points, and either enjoy the show from the front row, the middle of the crowd or even join Payne on stage. Matchett said that Payne planned his entire gig to incorporate VR viewers. “He wants to make sure the fans have an amazing experience.”

MelodyVR has been streaming archived content from artists including Post Malone, The Chainsmokers, Niall Horan and Bebe Rexha. The company also found unexpected success outside of the realm of pop music, with concerts from the London Symphony Orchestra regularly ranking among the top teon of most popular events. “The experience appeals to a lot of people,” said Matchett. He declined to provide details on the company’s total audience size, instead saying: “We’ve seen decent numbers.”

Some of these gigs have been made available for free, while the company has charged for others with a pay-per-view model. Matchett said that the company was ultimately looking to establish a new way to participate in live events. This could not only benefit fans from around the world who can’t participate in live shows, but also an industry that is struggling with ticket scalpers and other downsides of the live events business.

“Secondary ticketing is bad for pretty much everyone involved,” Matchett said .“We hope that VR can be an alternative.”

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