Themed Listening Parties Bring the Music without the Artist
by Talia Zakalik
The pandemic has created much uncertainty within the music industry. Recording music during the outbreak's height was a challenge, and many artists are now grappling with not being able to connect with fans in person since March of 2020.
Concerts and meet and greets bring musicians closer to their audience; without them, fans lose their means to get closest to the music and artists that move them. However, fans have increasingly found ways to congregate and enjoy the music that brings them together.
While the rest of the world was in lockdown, Australia was partying down under. Their successful management of COVID-19 allowed their citizens to gather in large crowds and continue to live a relatively normal and pandemic-free life. An outcome of this was modern-day "listening parties." Australia's clubs, bars, and music venues began to host themed nights for different artists and bands. These events became extremely popular as they spread across TikTok, sparking jealousy among those who lived in parts of the world where the pandemic was raging.
Australian "Swifties" gathered to listen to Taylor Swift's classic hits, and "Directioners" reminisced about the days before Zayn left One Direction. Many dressed up as their favorite artist or wore clothing that resembled the artist's aesthetic. The event spaces were also decorated to fit the brand of the musician. These parties were a coping mechanism for the halt of concerts.
A listening party felt like a pipe dream for those living in countries that remained under lockdown for quite some time. However, thanks to technology, many individuals could connect virtually to bond over their love of music. Spotify's new music feature allows listeners to blend their music tastes to make auto-generated playlists and collaborative playlists, giving an additional way to connect outside of a concert.
Virtual concerts were also widely popular, where fans could watch their favorite artists sing over zoom calls and on the live feature of various social media platforms. However, as restrictions were lifted, these listening parties started making their way to the United States.
Recently, I attended Gimme Gimme Disco, an ABBA-themed dance party. This event was more produced as it is touring in different cities within the United States, having an elaborate set and designated DJ. Everyone was dressed in complete '70s attire, singing and requesting disco hits together. The ABBA night showed that listening parties could be for current artists and those who have not gone on tour for decades. Listening parties can keep musicians' legacies alive and their audiences' spirits up.
This new form of music consumption may go on to outlive the pandemic. It is cheaper than seeing a musician perform live but at the same time provides the same sense of community that comes with concerts. It is an exciting way to experience music that everyone has to try.