We know, we know. It's hard to even fathom thinking about the holiday season right now. There's so much going on in the world and still so much uncertainty around the state of live music.
But! Artists and bands are in a very unique position when it comes to the holidays. And this year it might be more important than ever to get creative with what you offer fans.
(Besides, if artists can record their holiday albums in July in order to get them ready by November, you can start planning your holiday offerings in October).
As an artist, you're in a unique position to offer something special this time of year for your fans. So let's look at some ways you can make somebody's holiday and make a few extra bucks!
1. Offering Custom Songs/Content
This is one of the biggest reasons you need to start planning now. If you're the type of artist who loves a good challenge, offering custom content can be an amazing way to make somebody's year. It can be something as simple as doing a voice memo for a fan to recording a full blown song.
If you can make content easily, these types of gifts can be both one-of-a-kind and quite lucrative. Basically, you allow folks to buy songs they can dedicate to another person (or even themselves, why not). You ask them to give you a few important details and away you go to write a nice little tune.
You can keep it totally exclusive to them, OR you can let people know you reserve the right to release them commercially too. For most people, anywhere from $200-500 is perfectly reasonable for a nice one-instrument-and-a-vocal track for most growing indie bands.
But like we said — you don't want to be staring at 3 days to go and 10 songs to make for people, so be sure you start offering early and PLAN for them.
2. Secondary Talents As Primary Offerings
If you're like most artists, music isn't your only artistic endeavor. Maybe you also paint, or write short stories, or are a photography wiz. The holidays are a great time to feature your "secondary" talents as a primary gift offering.
Maybe you're making a few limited edition paintings. Or some prints of your favorite photograph. Maybe you take the opportunity to make merch featuring hand-drawn designs. Or you get clever and photoshop yourself into pictures with fans and sign it as a sort of "social distance meet and greet."
Whatever it is you do to get creative outside of your main focus — consider using it as a way to create really unique gifts and strengthen your bond with your fan base.
3. Bundling Existing Merch For A Year-End Blowout Combo
If you've got a lot of leftover stock from the year that you don't think will make it much further, now is a great time to bundle things together and discount them. It's both a bit of therapeutic cleaning and a great deal for fans.
One of the best ways to do it is to list out what each item would cost individually and then slash it by about 40% (being sure to let people know how good of a deal they're getting). But in order to make it feel like they're not just getting the earlier goods from months ago, you can package it as a sort of "last-chance-holiday-set."
If you're in a real mood, you can consider doing a "pay-what-you-want" model. We'll write a whole different post on the effectiveness of this strategy at a later date, but just know: it can be very powerful when done correctly.
4. Bringing Back Old Designs For A Limited Time
If you're the type of artist who has gone through several branding iterations, consider making an affordable version of a throwback logo or brand style. The end of the year is an incredibly nostalgic time for a lot of people. If you create merch that harkens back to your early days (and accompany the sales pitch with a heart-warming story), you'll be surprised how quickly some of these items go.
Usually a lot more than at any other point in the year, for some reason. Just remember that everybody starts to take longer and longer the closer we get to the end of the year. If you plan to have something made, start getting it made now.
5. Consider The Climate
Remember, there are plenty of seasonal items that can only be worn for a month or two after the holidays in a lot of places. Don't go all-in on warm weather clothes if you don't think you can move them — or if you don't want to start selling them basically right now.
This is why T-shirts are such an obvious merch choice in many cases. But you can also get cheeky with it and go for things like socks (people love giving socks for the holidays). And of course you could even lean into the whole seasonality and create items that are ironically the *opposite* of the time of year. Tank tops in December? If it's funny and on-brand enough!
6. A Special Themed Concert
If you're the type of person who likes to go all-in on holiday music etc., planning a special online concert is a great way to go. It's very easy to organize something around a special theme. You can collect song requests beforehand and even pitch special discounts on the merch. That's why it's best to do in early December, if you're looking for a date.
Plus, people won't already be sick of all the "jolly" by then. There are plenty of ways to do one-off, paid shows if you don't have a livestreaming go-to. Facebook has made it easier to charge money for shows now. And some pretty big names in entertainment have also gone the easy "private Zoom meeting" route.
Typically, charging something like $15-25 per household/device is a friendly rate. You can interact with fans, ask everybody to dress up, and even host multiple over a short time period if the demand is there. Make them about interacting with fans in addition to playing the music and you'll really make somebody's holiday season.
7. Add A Charity Component
If you can, consider adding a charity component to what you do. Whether that's giving some of the proceeds to your preferred charity or organizing a gift drive.
You can directly buy gifts for others for every sale you make, or you can do something fun like pledge an increasing amount of volunteer time with every store sale.
There are tons of ways to include charity in what you do, and it's important to remember that for a lot of folks, the end of the year can be incredibly lonely and somber. If you find a way to make your holiday efforts coincide with your heart, everybody wins.