Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
It goes without saying that the music climate has been changing — constantly and rapidly — over the last decade. Perhaps more than ever, it’s important for music artists to think outside the box to get their live music heard and connect with their fans. In addition to performing live, one way to do this is to host a listening party.
What is a listening party?
A listening party can happen in person or virtually. It’s essentially where you gather your fans, press, and whoever wants to join to listen to an album or single — in this case, your own album or single. When dropping a new album, this can also be your album release party.
If you’re gathering in person, this might also involve performing a few songs live with your band, asking other bands or a DJ to play, and creating an environment where listeners feel like they’re a part of the unfolding of your project.
Why should you have a listening party?
There are plenty of reasons to have a listening party. To start, it brings your fans together in a way that they otherwise wouldn’t have to meet your fellow listeners. It gives your fans a new experience in listening to your music and feeling like they are a part of something — because they are.
Having a listening party can also help you generate income if you’re selling merch. You can create merch specifically for your listening party, where listeners can only find it there. You can also use the event to promote upcoming shows or potentially be noticed by a record label.
3 benefits of a listening party
While a listening party can feature live performances, it can be less about the show and more about the great music. It can be more interactive. And while it can certainly serve as an EP or album launch, you can find other reasons for hosting one, and get creative about the format.
1. Create an intimate connection
Music has been a point of connection — with the arts and fellow music lovers — for hundreds of years, and continues to be. Even with our ever-changing technology and the way we consume media, live music and live experiences bring people together from all walks of life.
A listening party is another way to create a community and foster intimate connection with your current fans, and it can even create new fans as well. Personal connection is a great way to create a ripple effect for your music to be heard. That’s because when people get to know you, they get to know your music better. They feel a deeper sense of trust in you, as an artist, and your music.
At a listening party, you can interact with your fans, the press, and whoever you invite in a way that you just can’t via comments on social media posts. And if you’re hosting a virtual listening party, you can still have those interactions in real-time on-screen.
2. Get immediate feedback
Another great benefit of hosting a listening party is to get feedback on your tunes. You can keep the option open to your listeners to let you know what they think. This also creates another level of connection with your listeners in that they understand that sharing your music is, ultimately, a communal experience: without them, there’s no music being heard, and you value their thoughts and feedback.
Getting feedback from your fans is also a way to become inspired when writing new material. They may suggest something about one of your current songs that you can then take to a new song, new album, new t-shirt one-liner — you really just never know.
3. Establish brand identity
This is so important in the music biz nowadays. It’s amazing that we can put out music whenever we want, but it can also be overwhelming for listeners when deciding what to choose from. That’s why having a music brand is vital to your music success.
Having a brand sets you apart from other bands and musicians. If you think about some of your own favorite musicians, what is it that you love about them? Odds are, it’s probably more than just their music. You like their style, what they stand for, their aesthetic. And their music is reflective of their brand – or vice versa.
A listening party will allow you to establish your brand identity in a more connected way than just social media posts. It will allow your fans to interact with you in “real life” and get to know your personality as part of your overall brand.
How to host a listening party
Okay, so you’ve decided to host a listening party. Now, let’s look at the fine details.
- Choose a release date. If your listening party is for new music, you’ll want to set a release date for your single or EP that’s far enough in advance to promote not just your new track (or tracks), but also your listening party.
- Decide on digital or in-person. This may come down to budget. If you want to do an in-person event, it’s going to get a little pricier when it comes to booking a venue and getting the food and drink tab.
- Choose a location. This goes for both in-person and digital listening parties. If you’re going to the live-stream route, you’ll have to choose an online video platform. If you’re going the in-person route, you’ll have to decide on a venue.
- Invite guests. Spread the word! Reach out to your fans, potential fans, and press. Let everyone you want to be there know about your listening party event of the century.
Who to invite to your listening party
Speaking of everyone and anyone, let’s talk about who to invite to your listening party. First and foremost, invite your fans. The ones who have been there since the beginning to the ones who just listened to your latest release five minutes ago. Let your fans know they are cordially invited to welcome in your latest venture — and that you can’t do it without them.
Also, invite the press. Reach out to your local media and music blogs to let them know that there’s a local artist’s listening party happening. And make sure you invite any and all musicians and make it a networking bonanza. Anyone else in the scene — promoters, booking agents, etc. — that you know should also get an invite.
What to prepare for your next listening party
First and foremost, decide what great music you want to play. This might be a no-brainer if you have a new album or single dropping, but if not, which collection of your songs or albums would you want to have an event for? What guest artists or new music might you feature?
As far as the details go, think about things like food, drinks, and some type of theme. You might have a cake designed like a vinyl record or a bunch of freebies to give away.
Of course, if you want CDs and vinyl LPs in time for your listening party, you can head to www.discmakers.com and see all of our packaging options — including premium Digipaks if you want to release a special-edition album as part of your celebration.
Lauren Davish is a writer, singer/songwriter, yoga instructor, and voice coach. She received her MA in Creative Writing with a focus on creative nonfiction in 2019. Her favorite types of writing include blog posts and song lyrics.
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