Created in partnership between Prism Creative Group and Ace Props, The Listening Den is a unique event series for Miami music lovers, and this month it celebrates its first anniversary. Going against what is usually the norm during concerts, audience members are reminded not to use their phones during performances and keep conversation at a minimum. This, say organizers, is in order to show the utmost appreciation and respect to the musicians playing.
“To us, one of the most important ways to support the local communities is by investing in its art and music scene,” says Pola Bunster, director of storytelling at Prism Creative Group. The concept, Bunster continues, “ensures whoever is playing on the stages is being heard, the vulnerability is being absorbed, and these artists really have a platform and a chance to perform their heart out in a room full of people listening to them.”
During performances, Burnster has noticed some audience members taking this very seriously, warning fellow concert goers to follow decorum. “A lot of people are really passionate about respecting artists while they’re playing on the stage, and that’s something we’re so proud to have learned with this event series,” says Burnster.
Not only has this rule “branded” the Listening Den, but Prism has received emails from people complaining that some members of the audience were still using phones during the shows. “It’s great to see people really attaching on this idea and feeling they should be ambassadors of the idea of being in the moment,” declares Bunster.
This rule aims to create a personal and emotional connection between the musicians and their audience, something that many may have noticed has disappeared at concerts in Miami. Unfortunately, for us Miamians, we still don’t have the greatest reputation in terms of behavior as a live audience. Not only is Florida a cumbersome state to tour in geographically, but its music reputation is more known for DJs and other loud music. Attracting musicians is one of Prism’s goals, to show that there is a receptive crowd in Miami for more intimate music.
On a local level, Prism hopes to entice local musicians to stay in Miami, to give them the opportunity to be heard by music lovers “in a way that is open to the public, that isn’t exclusive but very inclusive,” says Bunster. Because of the lack of opportunities, Miami has lost a lot of its local musicians, she notes.
Behind Prism’s mission stands a group of no more than seven people in charge of the marketing, branding, narrative and booking of artists. Meanwhile, Ace Props is in charge of the venue, the vibe and the atmosphere.
“Music is where Prism really started,” says Bunster. “No matter how big we grow, it’s definitely what is nearest and dearest to us in our heart.”
For this upcoming Listening Den, on Aug. 23, Los Angeles visiting artist Emeryld will join Miami’s Yoli Mayor and Lemon City Trio in a series of performances. “We always make sure that at least one of the artists playing is local,” says Bunster. “Listening Den is also an opportunity for emerging and traveling artists to stay in Miami for the first time.”
The concept was inspired after members of Prism fell in love with the music of Atlanta artist Macy Todd. So they created the perfect excuse to bring her to Miami: the Listening Den. The tradition has continued with several other concerts on a nearly monthly basis and has expanded to include a second stage. “We always make sure that there is some kind of aspect of live music happening at one point or another throughout the night,” says Bunster.
During the event, music is everywhere. The crowd walks into a big warehouse space, which is decorated in many quirky props. Inside you will find local food vendors, a bar, there are also stages inside and outside the space, and of course, Mini Coopers to interact with, as Mini recently hopped on board to sponsor the Listening Den. There’s even an Airstream with a psychic for those looking for a more mystical experience.
“It’s very much a night of childhood wonders,” says Bunster about the space. “It’s very curious; it makes you want to search around this entire space, and all of the sudden you discover this big room with chairs.”
It is not only a place to appreciate the music, but it’s a great spot to hang out and socialize. Beyond the stage area, there is a large bar and lounge area, where people are free to socialize. The event attracts all age groups, and brings in between 1500 to 2,000 people throughout the night. “People tend to stay here past midnight because it’s such a great atmosphere and great hang,” says Bunster. “There’s a lot of movement because the space really invites you to stay and listen to the music for as long as you want. You can either have a serious pay-attention-to-the-music experience, or just be a relax and go on your own path and hang out or have a little bit of both.”