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USA News

Hillsong and Chris Tomlin remove 'VIP' from ticket packages following backlash

by Marcus Jones

Worship artists Hillsong United and Chris Tomlin have removed the term 'VIP' from their ticket packages for their upcoming US tour following criticism on social media.

Tickets for the worship duo's arena tour go on sale on Friday. As well as normal tickets, fans were invited to buy 'VIP experiences' which included celebrity style catwalk photographs, premium seats and exclusive gifts.

Critics online had described this as commercialising worship.

Writing on the Premier Christianity magazine website, worship leader Tom Read said: "Many of us are well aware that the worship music industry has a thinly-veiled but dark underbelly of commercialism. 

"But here, they don't even seem to be trying to hide it anymore. Worship music, and much of the contemporary church, has a celebrity problem. And it's about time we started talking about it."

Before and after
Before and after

While Hillsong is yet to reply to a request from Premier for a response, the wording on the website selling the ticket packages has now been amended.

While the ticket packages remain, ready to be sold, they are no longer titled as VIP but instead sold as 'experiences'.

In what he described as a "half-hearted defence", writing on the Premier Christianity magazine website, Chris Llewellyn from the worship band Rend Collective suggested tours wouldn't be financially viable without additional income from perks like this.

He said: "One of the main mechanisms by which large Christian concerts actually break even is via upgraded ticketing - think 'VIP experience' - or through sponsorship. I can say confidently that without these things my own band would be unable to tour. 

"This is because we already reduce our ticket prices to staggeringly low rates compared to equivalent artists in the secular world to make the concerts as accessible as possible.

"Yes, there's a pricetag for this service, but in a world of compromise, I'd rather offer this service at an extra charge to people who have expressed that they want it, than have to have a more expensive ticket for everyone."

Chris Tomlin and Hillsong United will begin the 33 date tour of the US in February. They begin in North Carolina and end in Georgia. Tickets range from $30 to $300.

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