Holiday Season – the pros and cons for musicians

Approximately 20% of the annual music revenue is being generated during the last six to eight weeks of the year. Yes, we are talking Christmas. Christmas, the business that can never start too early for retailers. But what does this time of year mean to unsigned musicians? Is it a good idea to jump onto the Christmas bandwagon? The stats sound promising – but as usual, there are up- and downsides…

Not a good time for new releases
The run-up to Christmas is characterized by a flood of new music releases. Countless Greatest Hits albums are waiting to be bought as presents. Accordingly the media are full of advertising, radio stations hardly have any free slots available between “Jingle Bells” and “Last Christmas”. Add to that the attention of consumers, which is more focused on finding Christmas presents for the whole family rather than on treating their personal musical preferences. Finally their budget plays one more significant role.

If you throw your new album on the market during that period you risk getting lost between musical oversupply and lack of consumers’ attention. It will definitely make more sense releasing your music far in advance of the Christmas madness or even wait until the calm months of January and February, quite a downtime in the music industry, along with the Summer holidays. The media are being fed less information, less news and less material while consumers are more attentive now that the Holidays are over.

Christmas Songs
However, if you have recorded a Christmas song – or two – it’s in the nature of things you prepare these songs for a release in December. That is where direct marketing via newsletters and social media can pay off, because – as I mentioned earlier – the media are dealing with quite some different problems.

Another thing worth considering is a free download of your Christmas song as a Thank You to your fans, especially if this can support the release of a new album in the early following year. Think about packing your Christmas mp3 to a .zip file along with a grapic ad that promotes the new album – and eventually provides a discount code.

Special Offers and themed Shows
Christmas also gives rise to special offers such as discounts or special package deals as well as themed events under the Christmas banner such as ‘Christmas Rock’ (all the way with ginger bread) or an ‘After Christmas Party’ once the Holidays are over and people are looking to spend the money they’ve been given from Mom, Dad or Grandma.

For musicians there is both light and shadow during holiday season. While you should refrain from releasing new  – non-Christmas – music you will find many opportunities to use the Christmas term as a hook in your marketing and presentation.

It is definitely too early now to wish you a Merry Christmas, but if you have a Christmas song in the pipeline, it’s about time to get it finsihed and prepared for release.

– Julian Angel

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About MusicBizMadness

Julian Angel is a chart-noted songwriter and film musician with Hollywood credits. He has successfully released six (physical) records by himself. MusicBiz Madness started as a business conference in Germany and keeps sharing hands-on advice for musicians and people in the music industry.
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