The relationship between a fan and an artist is always evolving. Before social media and the internet, that relationship was mostly made up of live performances and interviews in magazines or on the radio. But now in the digital world there are endless avenues to connect with your favorite musicians. While the relationship between fans and artists has always been special, there is something more personal about fan interactions than ever before, and that is due in large part to the intimate nature of today’s content. The Calm app has only elevated this idea. Initially known for its sleep and meditation content, Calm has more recently started collaborating with artists, creating a new way for fans to experience their favorite musicians.
In many ways, an interaction with your favorite musician on social media elicits a similar feeling to making eye contact at a concert. Fans just want to feel like the artist knows and sees only them in a crowd of thousands of other people and posts. The intimate nature of Calm’s content fosters that same feeling. Drifting off to sleep while listening to Harry Styles’ Sleep Story, “Dream With Me,” feels like a very singular and unique experience, regardless of how many others have or will listen to it. Perhaps a bit differently than other fan experiences, Calm’s content is specifically made with mental health in mind. The addition of music has only supported that. Calm’s Chief Content Officer, Greg Justice, explains that they’re, “on a mission at Calm to support everyone on every step of their mental health journey, and we’re mindful of the transformative effect music often has on one’s mood and mindset. Thus, it made perfect sense to complement our existing library of meditations and Sleep Stories with music to help users focus, fall asleep, or simply relax.”
While this is something that users of Calm have benefited from, Justice says that, “many musicians often have these same goals in mind. The addition of music to Calm has afforded us the unique opportunity to align with artists on authentic collaborations across a range of genres and formats, whether that be an ambient album with Moby – our first-ever release in March of 2019 – or, more recently, an ASMR-themed Sleep Story with Camila Cabello.”
Calm’s most recent collaboration with Cabello falls directly in line with that sentiment as her ASMR-themed Sleep Story “The Beauty Of Winding Down,” was inspired by her love for it. ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, is meant to trigger a tingling sensation in your body that sparks relaxation or sleepiness, and that is the intended goal with Cabello’s Sleep Story. “While we’ve dabbled with ASMR in the past, this is the first time we’ve partnered with an artist on such an experience,” Justice says. “Camila Cabello often uses ASMR as a tool to fall asleep, so it was natural to collaborate with her on *whisper this next part* her very own…ASMR…Sleep Story…’The Beauty of Winding Down.’” For fans of Cabello not only do they now have a new way of connecting with her, but also a tool to help them calm down and achieve deep rest.
I know when I was a teenager I would often fall asleep listening to music, though One Direction’s song “Moments” wasn’t necessarily created for that purpose, as it would play the next, more upbeat song as soon as it was over. Calm’s Sleep Remix series — created in collaboration with Universal Music Group — ensures that won’t happen. The meditation and sleep company partnered with UMG during the pandemic for a first-of-its-kind reimagining of well-known pop songs for bedtime. The series includes Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour,” Ariana Grande’s “breathin,” and Post Malone’s “Circles” among many others. “Rather than the standard radio edit, the series includes hour-long, dreamlike compositions designed to help listeners fall and stay asleep,” explains Justice. This collaboration provides fans with a new take on some of their favorite songs, that also just so happen to be great to listen to as you fall asleep.
Calm’s Sleep Story collaborations are another subset of their sleep content that has both helped the app garner a new audience, and provided fans with an entry point into bettering their mental health and sleep. “For example, many fans of Harry Styles shared that his Calm Sleep Story served as the perfect entry into our wider set of mental health solutions that genuinely benefited their wellbeing,” Justice says. “Prior to our partnership in 2020, Harry had opened up about his personal experience seeking therapy – sharing the positive impact it had on his own well-being as well as encouraging his fans to seek mental health practices of their own.” So when it came time to launch his Sleep Story, “Dream With Me,” the response from fans was so overwhelming that the app crashed for several hours.
Similarly Rosé from BLACKPINK collaborated on a Sleep Story with Calm that had major success. Rosé has also “helped destigmatize the mental health conversation by opening up about her own mental health journey and daily commitment to reconnect with herself through rest and relaxation,” Justice says. “Last December, we released ‘Grounded with Rosé,’ a 30-minute Sleep Story that includes breathing exercises and meditative guidance from Rosé intended to help superfans and everyday listeners alike drift off to dreamland.” Fans are receptive to these collaborations because of how honest the artists are willing to be.
That notion seems to ring true across all of their collaborations. One in particular is Kehlani’s soundscape that was specifically created for people with tinnitus – a condition in which people experience ringing or other sounds in one or both ears, that have no external source. Kehlani found the recommended treatment of ambient noise to be helpful and thus collaborated with Calm on curating, “Ocean Waves For Tinnitus,” a soundscape specifically designed to help others with the condition. While Calm’s soundscapes help Kehlani with her tinnitus, they prove to be beneficial in other areas of her life, as well. “Soundscapes especially help me with my tinnitus, but also helps me when I need to soothe my child, when she needs to go to sleep, when I need to cool the energy down of the house, when I need to take a drive,” says Kehlani. From a fan’s perspective though Kehlani’s curated soundscape is a way to connect with her on a deeper level, regardless of whether or not they have the same condition.
In a sense, consuming Calm’s content is an immersive experience. In an online or print interview, fans would only be able to read about Kehlani’s tinnitus, but with Calm, not only can you read about it in their interview with her, but you can then have a sonic experience that helps you to understand what she goes through while also achieving a level of mindfulness apart from that. Fans are able to connect with her while also taking care of their own mental health.
At the core of Calm is the mission to support people in bettering their mental health through achieving restful meditation and sleep. Through their artist collaborations, they’ve been able to both attract a new audience within different fandoms, and also open up the conversation surrounding mental health through a vast catalog. Calm sleep expert, Dr. Shelby Harris, says, “There’s no one-size-fits-all approach. If you find something that helps improve your sleep and doesn’t negatively impact any sleep quality or quantity, then go for it.” So whether you’re Camila Cabello’s biggest fan or you just need some help getting more rest, Calm’s artist collaborations will both help you connect with your favorite artist in a more personal way, while also supporting your mental health. Seems like a win-win.