As part of Hillsong United's current 'Welcome Zion' tour, the band has decided to include a feature called Upfront, an exclusive online community for fans to be able to get closer to the bands they love.
"We've always wanted to have the opportunity to find a way in which we can engage in a more personal way, in a way where we can share a lot more of who we are when we're not on stage, when we're not coming through a set of headphones or a set of speakers or a television screen. We want to be able to engage in a way where it's more personal," said Joel Houston, of Hillsong United, in apromotion for new Upfront feature in April. "We've been searching for a long time to find a way in which we can make that happen and this is it."
The Upfront experience includes exclusive access to photos, video footage, Meet and Greet opportunities and live-streamed video from anywhere in the world. It also provides an opportunity for fans to receive personal calls, voicemails and text messages from band members at any moment.
"We have the ability to live-stream from wherever we are to wherever you are anywhere in the world at any moment, and I think that's incredible," Houston said. He explained that the band is excited to be able include fans in offsite activities such as prayer meetings, weekly devotionals, and tutorials by the musicians, which will isolate different parts of the performance to give fans a better idea of how they are played. "When we're in the studio theres the opportunity to be a part of what we're doing, to even do Q & As where we can involve you in certain songs, or ideas, or things that we're planning on doing, get you opinion, get your feedback and find out what you guys are wanting most and hopefully be able to kind of share in that with you," he said.
Dylan Thomas, of Hillsong United, explained that there is a lot that fans miss when the band isn't performing."There's so much stuff that we do week to week outside of touring that you guys really don't get to see, like our church life, and rehearsals, and prayer meetings, and all the meetings that we have, and things that we're a part of that just kind of go unseen," he said. "We can go six months without traveling, so there's a lot that we'd love to share with you guys and, you know, get a glimpse of what our lives are like at home, at church and all that kind of stuff."
Upfront is a monthly, user-paid online community. It is accessible from computer, tablet and apps on an iPhone or Android. "[It's] just, all the stuff you can't do on social media, right here, and we're excited about it," Houston said.
On June 7, Hillsong United tweeted about their upcoming performance that evening, in Los Angeles, California, saying "Meet and Greet for @upfront members at the Hollywood Bowl tonight! Check outhttps://www.beupfront.com/ and sign up now."
In a blog post on June 7, the band explained that they aim for their performances to "create a worship evironment." The blog quoted Eugene Peterson who said, "Worship is the strategy by which we interrupt our preoccupation with ourselves and attend to the presence of God."