Written by Josh Westerman
The past few months haven’t been the best for music lovers. Festivals have been cancelled, gigs are being reschedule and rearranged, artists are holding back new music until they can take the tunes out on the road – the pandemic has taken a serious toll.
Yet one artist has created his own way of connecting, not only with fans of his own music but a whole roster of musicians, and it’s all through social media.
Tim Burgess, frontman of The Charlatans (as well as a solo artist, author, coffee aficionado and all-round top guy) is behind Tim’s Twitter Listening Party, one of the success stories of the lockdown. His concept of combining listening to music whilst live tweeting has created a music-inspired social media community for people to connect from the comfort of their own homes.
The premise of Tim’s Twitter Listening Party is simple. Burgess puts on an album, you listen to the album at the same time at home whilst following #TimsTwitterListeningParty on your Twitter feed and the artist/artists which recorded the album share anecdotes and tales with you about each track.
A simple, yet brilliantly effective, concept.
But how has Tim got people to tune in? It’s all to do with the musicians which have taken part.
In the first few weeks, Bonehead from Oasis appeared to share tales from Definitely, Maybe and What’s The Story (Morning Glory) before returning for The Masterplan, whilst Blur drummer Dave Rowntree tweeted through the band’s seminal Parklife record. Supergrass, Pulp, Suede and Tim’s very own Charlatans also deserve honourable mentions.
Masterplan is trending at number 3 in the U.K.
Then 8 – 14 are all from the listening party. With Headshrinker, Rockin’Chair, Aquiesce, Going Nowhere, Swamp Song and even Some Might Say in the top 30
What a night x@BoneheadsPage pic.twitter.com/qZGi1D1qnn
— Tim Burgess (@Tim_Burgess) May 5, 2020
Indie stalwarts The Libertines (including all four members live tweeting) took to Twitter twice to talk through Up The Bracket and the self-titled second album. While, Wakefield’s punk alumni The Cribs gave anecdotes about two of their records, and Bombay Bicycle Club took up a two-night residency on the listening parties.
— Gary Kemp (@garyjkemp) June 1, 2020
Music royalty from the 1980s have given commentary too, with the likes of Duran Duran, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Spandau Ballet and Dexys Midnight Runners all taking to Twitter to tweet along as their fans listen to their records. It’s become a widespread music phenomenon.
First taking place on March 23, Burgess hasn’t looked back. At the time of writing, there has been more than 200 listening parties. But not only are the parties now taking place pretty much every day of the week, there are also multiple listen-a-longs every night. For example, Saturday June 6 sees SIX listening parties starting with DMA’s at 1pm and finishing with The Triffids at 11pm.
But the success is seen with the hashtag #TimsTwitterListeningParty which, when there is a party going on, is always trending. In one interview, Burgess even stated that during a commentary from New Order, one song achieved 56,000 tweets – to put that into context of the sheer amount of people listening, that’s nearly three times the capacity of London’s O2 Arena. The demand is there, and Burgess has delivered night after night for the last 10 weeks.
Tim’s Twitter Listening Parties have become the virtual gig, there’s no doubting that. People with shared interest in a certain genre of music or specific artist and band gathering in one place to listen along together.
The only difference with the listening parties is you get to hear anecdotes from the musicians themselves whilst you listen – well, plus the lack of mosh pits and plastic pint pots filled unnervingly warm liquid being thrown around. But for some, music is better off without the latter two things. So, can gigs simply be moved online in this manner?
We all know about the current situation and once social distancing restrictions are lifted, bands will go back out on tour and people will go and see them – the lust for live music will never die. What Tim has done, however, is invent a new way of people listening to music together and in the process, created social media communities of fans.
The days of being in fan clubs for bands might seem old fashioned, but Tim’s Listening Parties have brought the ideology of this concept to 2020, all by harnessing the power of social media.