Who has time for messy ragers with vomit on the sofa and goldfish in the toilet when you could throw a listening party instead? A “listening party” is just a gathering of likeminded music-heads where a new album, single, or music video is premiered and enjoyed.

The last listening party I attended was for the Arctic Monkeys’ newest album, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. It was sublime – the album inherently sounds like “night,” so listening to it at 12:01 a.m. felt natural with fellow AM lovers. Everything was on point, including the pre-midnight tunes, homemade vegan desserts, and gin. 

Per that party and previous ones, here are the essential elements of a successful listening party:

Great Tunes Before The Album Drops

Mackenzie Patel

If an album gets released at midnight, that leaves at least two hours for curated playlists. Older albums from the artist releasing new music or music from a similar genre are a must – or the planner could blast instrumental music to cleanse the ears and palette.

Variety in listening devices is also crucial: Bluetooth speakers, record players, and CD players deliver different tones and connotations. For the Tranquility Base listening party, we played Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not (their first album) on the record player and basked in Alex Turner’s velvet voice.

Listening parties are intellectual more than anything else, and like the great soirees of The Bloomsbury Group, they require some study. Incredible music is the reason for a listening party and handpicking A-list tracks is more important than a guest list or decorations.

Enhancing Drinks and Refreshments

Mackenzie Patel

As for drinks, it's vital that you provide slow-working alcohol that doesn’t get your guests hammered. The drink should provide a buzz, not a blackout that prevents analysis of the music. Gin and tonics, low ABV beer, or mixed drinks in a bottle are wise (definitely not shots).

My friend baked vegan cookies and muffins for the listening party, but music-themed food is also great. Bake Spotify, Tidal, Soundcloud, or Apple Music cupcakes – “eating” these music apps will get you in the *mood.* Overall, it's important that refreshments augment the experience, not ruin it by munching too loudly on chips or being messy.

Discussion Of Press And Rumors

Mackenzie Patel

NME and Vice Noisey thrive on publishing controversial music articles, so talk about them! Albums and single often get “premiered” on music blogs, so scouting out those websites is good homework.

The Arctic Monkeys album was leaked before it was released (no one at the party had listened yet), but it was stimulating to talk about the reviews and rumors. Think of a new album as an argumentative essay on the SAT: you need time to digest the prompt, analyze it, and deliver a cogent response.

Silent Listening To The New Album

Mackenzie Patel

Silence is paramount. Quit the cupcake crunching and social media pings; someone else’s talent is requesting your respect. “Just-enough” tipsy and with exhausted eyes, I listened to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino as if in a reverie – a dreamy, British reverie with piano ballads and queer bass lines.

Not speaking for 40 minutes and listening at 100% was easier than I imagined, and it makes a listening party transcendent.

A Successful (And Musical) Evening

Mackenzie Patel

The leading quote is attributed to Russian composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. His compositions, so full of angst and blood, would’ve been great listening party material. With the right people, tunes, and refreshments, a listening party is more meaningful than any club or fraternity party.