If you’ve read our Sandbox Best Music Marketing Campaigns of 2021 report, you’ll know that listening parties were a big deal in 2021! It makes a lot of sense: they drive up excitement during release week, allow artists to interact with fans – and most importantly, they drive concurrent streams! Here, we take a look at Vertigo Music, who are aiming to add even more to the listening party experience.

Though listening parties have been a crucial element of release campaigns – especially during Covid-19 – many of the available solutions to host these events are not necessarily ideal. As Daniel Yen, CEO of Vertigo Music, puts it: “A lot of artists hold listening parties on Twitter or Discord or they hold Facebook Live or Instagram Live sessions and then on these listening parties ‘go stream my music’ is the big call-to-action and they send all their links to their Spotify and Apple Music. Vertigo is looking to actually innovate that experience where they can have that social experience with their fans, but their music is actually streaming at the same time.”

Artists like The Wombats, Nina Nesbitt, Aquilo, The Vaccines and Alfie Templeman have already thrown listening parties on Vertigo Music.

Some listening parties currently come with restrictions 

While Discord does have a dedicated Spotify-powered ‘Listen Along’ feature, and artists can also technically use Spotify’s Group Session to hold listening parties on Twitter or Zoom, it’s fair to say that these experiences come with some downsides. For a start, these solutions are very Spotify-centric and artists tend to have less control over the overall experience – such as branding, or making sure no one changes the sequence of music.

If artists wanted to host a listening party across both Spotify and Apple Music in a synced stream, they would likely need to hire a developer to build this out for them. This kind of activation is not accessible to many artists and would be an additional expense for the marketing team.

Vertigo Music’s approach

And this is where Vertigo Music is filling a gap in the market. Vertigo Music is a free app that artists and fans can use to listen to music simultaneously across Spotify and Apple Music, all synced-up, while being able to interact with each other. This creates a social experience, while driving up streams and income for the artist. The app has built what they call “Artist Lounges” which are digital rooms – similar to a Clubhouse room, but where you can listen to music together. Once a user has linked up their Spotify Premium or Apple Music account, they can host or join Artist Lounges.

Each user will have Artist Lounges recommended to them, based on their listening history and any artist that distributes music to Spotify and Apple Music will automatically have an Artist Lounge on the app. This means that fans can always hang out in these Lounges and are invited to listen together, without the artist needing to launch a listening party. As the company notes: “Artist Lounges are always on. There’s no ‘go-live’ moment or ‘end of broadcast’.” However, artists do have the opportunity to join the Lounges, to surprise their fans and further generate buzz.

Artists can claim and verify their Artist Lounge for free, unlocking additional marketing features for them. For example, they can host live video, live audio, and chat with the fans.

Interactivity and sharing in Lounges

Interactivity and sharing is key, says Yen: “All users including artists can post playlists, albums, artists, songs and videos with music, using the “+” icon on the activity wall for video.”

Artists are able to take control of the music by either sharing the queue or locking the queue. When sharing the queue, everyone can add songs to the queue and vote the queue to determine what comes next. If artists want full control of the queue, they can simply lock it.

An important aspect here is that fans always have a place to congregate and very engaged fanbases may flock to the app to support their favourite artists. When opening the app, they will find a ‘Discover’ page with trending and featured lounges, where they can search for any artist – or simply create their own lounge which they can choose to make public or private. Lounges are generated based on user interest, says Yen: “If nobody has ever entered into an artist lounge before, they just navigate to the Artist landing page via Search, and click the Lounge button, making the lounge searchable.” 

Therefore, fans might bump into organic listening parties from another fan, who’ve created their own lounge in the app – so it can even be a great tool to connect fans with each other. 

YouTube video

Artist Lounges are one of two primary vectors the company has built to support artists. The company has recently built a studio called the Vertigo Lounge, based in Nashville. Yen explains: “It’s a hosted event where we’ve been inviting artists to talk about their music. It’s livestreamed on our platform on the app, but it’s also recorded. Artists will talk about 4 or 5 songs and then once recorded, we’ll actually put that as a piece of content on the app as well as off the app as a weblink. People can watch that content just by clicking the weblink and they’re prompted to connect their Apple Music or Spotify account, and then when they do, they can watch the video with their Apple or Spotify music synced into the content and it’s actually driving streams for the artists as well. Both eyes and ears are counting as a stream!”

When playing one of these videos on the Vertigo Music app, you will see that the app showcases the segments of music so that the song will pop up within an Apple Music or Spotify player, if it’s being talked about or played in the video.

Other options

While it’s unclear how large of a user base Vertigo Music already has, it’s an easy solution for artists who can promote their listening party on their socials and drive their fanbase to the app. Two other apps that spring to mind that share some similar features with Vertigo Music are Stationhead and listeningparty. While artists can use Stationhead to broadcast radio shows with embedded, premium-streaming powered music, listeningparty can be used to create mp3-powered pre-release listening parties. A feature on listeningparty that could be valuable for Vertigo Music too, is the ability to add priority links to places like the artist’s store, tickets, YouTube etc.

Daniel Yen says he’s been involved in Vertigo Music for over seven years, and that the app has changed significantly. He recalls various iterations and features of the app, from a social feed with embedded music, short music snippets similar to TikTok but linked into DSPs and more. “At some point the app was trying to tackle too much. In January 2021 my role changed to become CEO of the company and I’ve spent most of last year focusing the app on one experience which is the listening party feature. The whole goal is to enable artists to connect with fans in a more deep intimate way all the while promoting and streaming their music where they are being benefited economically.”

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