If you’re an indie musician who sells anything, you’re basically a small business person. It’s the end of the year; businesses are in full shouting mode trying to get the attention of customers spending money. Where does this leave you?
If you’re like most small businesses and solopreneurs, you don’t have a lot of margin to discount your wares by much. So it’s better to think of this time of the year as an opportunity to take advantage of everyone’s lowered bar to clicking sales links. Maybe while they’ve got their wallets out, they’ll throw a few bucks your way.
Here are some ideas on what you can do and what you shouldn’t do.
People are already inundated with sales but they’re more likely to click on advertisements and emails during holiday season. Give them a good reason to click. Consider offering a free track on your Facebook, Bandcamp, or SoundCloud page in exchange for a share or an email (or nothing). If you do capture emails through a freebie give-away, you can follow up with a sales email.
If you can’t discount your merch and still cover your costs, figure out a way to give your fans a free digital album with every merch purchase.
Consider making a lo-fi recording to give away. It’s free, right? Fidelity is secondary.
Special tracks for the season are another easy idea. It’s hard to put together the time and budget for an entire holiday album but doing one special track (not even holiday themed) and putting it up on iTunes for the holidays is a nice, end-of-the-year treat for fans.
If you can’t discount your music, investigate a way to sell a bundle of music. Even if it’s not discounted by a great percentage, fans (especially new ones) can see the value in getting a bunch of your records all at once.
If you’re playing shows throughout the holiday season, consider making them, you know, seasonal. They don’t have to be “Christmas”-oriented but most of us feel a mixture of relief, exhaustion, and celebration during this time of the year. Maybe you make hot cocoa for everyone. Maybe you lead a sing-along. But you can make it an event.
Along those same lines, you can do special events on YouTube. My friends in Sallie May did a series of live-recorded Christmas videos last year which are all fun and relatively easy to do.
The strategy behind all of these ideas is:
The eyeballs are already open. The fingers are tapping and clicking. Give them something to listen to, watch, order, or do.
Here’s what you don’t want to do…
This is NOT the time to launch new projects or make big asks of your fans. Don’t kick off a Kickstarter or announce a big album project. Don’t try to release an album that isn’t tied into holidays in some way. Don’t try to throw a huge show that isn’t timely or easy to get to. Remember that people are as exhausted as they are celebratory during this month. Work with that. You’re a little fish.
During this season, your fans are active on social media, in their inboxes, and shopping online. Swim in that stream, not against it. Give your fans something special for the season and something simple to do and you might reap some easy rewards from it. Trying to sell something significant when all the corporate advertising dollars in the country are competing for sales with you is a bad strategy. Trying to make your holiday show stand out in a sea of holiday parties is tough. Be the cool friend who brings the beer, not the one with another gallon of eggnog. Do not, in other words, follow the advice of Cake Like.