What is the Gaia Music Collective?

Gaia Music Collective
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Gaia Music Collective
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Photo Credit: Ian Shiff Photography

The Gaia Music Collective is an impromptu choir of up to 200 strangers with no professional training or auditioning required, gathering at an event space to sing hit songs from Fleetwood Mac to Taylor Swift.

You might have seen the Gaia Music Collective on your TikTok “For You” page, but who are they, and why are people traveling from thousands of miles away to sing pop anthems with strangers?

What began as a small choir of only six people in a Brooklyn living room has become an online phenomenon, drawing people from miles away and from various walks of life, from Broadway stars to undercover supermodels — and, of course, amateur singers. These days, the group of up to 200 strangers meets in an event space in the basement of a former church in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick.

People sign up for Gaia’s events, such as one-day choirs, on their social channels, using a pay-what-you-can sliding price of between $11 and $33. Once a group of up to 200 forms, Goldstein and his team pick a popular song, like Taylor Swift’s “Cruel Summer,” Rihanna’s “Diamond,” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”

The Gaia team sends out their own recorded harmonies for alto, soprano, tenor, and bass parts to participants for them to listen to and familiarize themselves with a few days before the event. Singers then come together in a flash mob-like fashion to sing for three hours, or even all day, depending on the event.

“We started with six people in a living room — I got friends that I knew from college acapella or theater who as adults weren’t professional musicians, but just wanted an outlet to sing every once in a while,” said Matt Goldstein, a singer, songwriter, and vocal arranger, in an interview with The New York Post. “It’s been a wild ride.”

Goldstein co-created Gaia with Hannah Tobias in June 2021 and quickly outgrew his living room. By April 2022, they had rented the Bushwick space — the basement of the former Bushwick United Methodist Church, called Gymnopedie — and started sending invites for more ambitious events.

Today, Gaia has over 310,000 followers on TikTok, with 7.5 million likes on the platform. Their plans for the “Landslide” session saw a waiting list of over 300, with people regularly traveling from other states to take part in Gaia’s events — some even flying in from Jamaica, from Germany, and as far as Australia.

The group has seen participation from the likes of Broadways stars Chibueze Ihouma and Brit West of “Hadestown,” “Hamilton” star Leslie Odom Jr., supermodel Cara Delevingne, and singer Natasha Bedingfield.

“We want people to feel as free as they can while we sing this music together,” said Kenter Davies, a conductor with the Gaia Music Collective.

At the end of an event, the group sits together and shares their interpretations of the music they sang. Often, members share personal reflections and memories, something which undoubtedly brings participants closer together and adds to the shared experience of singing with strangers.

While the Gaia Music Collective funds its events through its pay-what-you-want “sliding scale” of $11 to $33, the group stresses that “no one will be turned away due to a lack of funds.” Tickets for future shows can be found on the group’s Eventbrite page, with information for upcoming shows also available on Gaia’s social profiles.