by Isabelle Ick
For many fans, attending a private listening session of a favorite artist’s unreleased album would be a dream come true. For enterprising artists, these events are an opportunity to attract publicity. Private listening sessions are an effective way of introducing music to the public ear as they increase the connection between artist and audience and heighten anticipation for upcoming releases.
For example, Taylor Swift hosted a secret listening session of her unreleased album, 1989 on Sept. 21. According to latimes.com, Swift invited 30 of her biggest fans via Twitter to her Los Angeles home, where they listened to the album scheduled for release on Oct. 27.
During the party, Swift explained the songwriting process and inspiration for each track. Swift also served pumpkin chocolate chip cookies that she had baked, allowed guests to hold her beloved cats and took Polaroid photos with them, according to latimes.com.
By welcoming them into her home and socializing with them, Swift closed the sense of detachment between herself and her fans. Swift’s listening session is an example of how these events can showcase artists’ genuine interest in their fan base, while also serving as an effective business tactic to boost album sales.
In a similar fashion, for its album A Better Tomorrow released on Dec. 2, Wu-Tang Clan held a private listening party in Manhattan on Nov. 3. According to billboard.com, the party was open to a group of journalists, who listened as chief producer RZA added commentary to the album while playing its full length.
The event increased promotion of the album, as the media reviewed it earlier and with more insight from RZA’s narration. The group’s decision to host a listening party was successful in building anticipation for its release, and also in controlling the way in which the album’s meaning was interpreted.
Attending a listening party is an enriching experience that adds a dimension not availible on iTunes or Spotify. Through these events, audiences better understand the effort and inspiration behind an album. To keep up with an increasingly progressive industry, more artists should host private listening sessions to bring audiences face-to-face with music in its most authentic form.