In general, the end of year holiday season is a difficult time for indie labels and bands to compete with the majors and all of their holiday, best of and greatest hits releases. That doesn't mean you can't live it up during the season with a little fun of your own. These ideas may not be big money makers, but they can be a great way to give your fans something special for the holiday season. There are ideas here for bands and labels alike, so everyone can get into the holiday cheer.
Plan a Holiday Gig:
A holiday show in your hometown is a great way to show your fans a good time during the season (and give them a break from visiting family and office holiday parties). Go for a small venue and deck it out in seasonal glory to give the show a personal feel - your gift to your fans. Other ideas bring the holiday spirit to your show?:
Free entry for everyone OR
Donate all of the door money to a favorite band charity (and remember, no guest lists at charity gigs!)
Need help promoting your show? Sign up for this free show promotion ecourse to learn the ropes!
Release a Special Single:
It may be hard to release a new album for a small indie label or band after October, when the roost is being ruled by major label, "big bang" releases, but that doesn't mean it isn't a good time to bring something special to your die hard fans. Release an unreleased version of a fan favorite, a remix, a cover song, or a b-side you have sitting around. You can release this single as a download through your website to keep your costs down, but you could also release it as a CD (or even CD-R with special artwork). The idea here is to do a limited run. Want to make it really special? Think 7".
Release a Holiday Themed Album:
This one follows a little bit from the previous suggestion, but whereas the idea there is to release a special, limited edition song that is in keeping with the music you usually make, this one is all about singing holiday songs. Put your own spin on holiday favorites or create a few new holiday classics of your own.
You know those annoying "what we've been up to this year" newsletters you get from distant relatives? Well, you can take this idea and run with it for your band or label (of course, you will want to be slightly less annoying and way more interesting). Give everybody a reminder of the highlights of the past year and sneak peak of what you planned for the next one. This is a good way to remind people about releases you have that might make great holiday gifts and get the word out about upcoming tours. Send the newsletter to your fans and your press contacts.
Holiday Best Of Lists:
When you're involved in music, people tend to be curious about what kind of music you like to listen to in your down time. A "best of" list makes a great addition to your website this time of year - you can make a list of the best releases of the past year, or if it hasn't been new music that has been catching your ear recently, you can make a list of the top ten albums you want to unwrap this holiday season.
It Doesn't Have to Be Expensive!:
Aren't those thoughtful, homemade gifts always the best ones? The holidays are a great excuse for burning albums on CD-Rs, using handmade artwork and other DIY techniques. You don't have to break your holiday budget to put together a special holiday single - in fact, going this route will only make your holiday "gift" to your fans more personal and more charming.
Making your holiday activities work on a large scale is not the objective here. For instance, it may not be possible to hold a free gig in a large venue (because you'll be footing the bill) - a small room in your town for a small crowd is perfect for a special holiday gig. Take lots of photos for your website so those fans who couldn't go to the show can see all the action, or even better, record the show for streaming on your website.
Don't Forget to Publicize:
Because the holidays offer the chance to do those little "out of the box" things, like hosting a holiday party/gig for your fans, they also give the press something unique to write about your band or label. Press can be notoriously difficult to get this time of year, but this kind of story is ideal for the local media. Don't forget to keep them up to date about what is happening.