16 Top Music Marketers Share Holiday, Year-End Tips
As the year winds down, the team at Bandsintown For Artists asked 16 top music marketers how they market during the holiday season and how they use the season to get ready for the year ahead.
From the Bandsintown For Artists blog
Q: WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE FOR HOW TO MARKET / PROMOTE DURING THE HOLIDAY SEASON OR HOW TO SURVIVE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITHOUT BURNOUT?
And here’s what they answered:
SUZ PAULINSKI – THE ROCK/STAR ADVOCATE
Just Do ONE Thing
When it comes to surviving the holidays as you build your career – draw boundaries. Take a vacation like everyone else and decide ahead of time ONE thing you’re going to market and figure out ONE thing you want out of the promotion – more followers, more engagement, more adds to playlists, more merch sales – so that you can clearly plan and execute a campaign that makes sense and is focused. If you’re overwhelmed or confused by everything you want one promotion to accomplish for you, your audience will be overwhelmed.
Your audience has SO much going on right now, make sure if you’re promoting something it’s easy to understand what it is and it gives them VALUE. Think lowest hanging fruit – incredible discounts to move excess inventory of your merch, bundled discounts to move merch and CDs (maybe offer free gift-wrapping with each sale – get creative!), a private streamed holiday concert to all who pre-save your song, a downloadable PDF of your top picks for holiday gifts for the music-lovers in their family when they sign up for your newsletter.
Plan ahead, schedule your ads or social posts ahead of time and make sure wherever you’re sending them to the links work, and the sales cart and/or coupons are working. Go through the process yourself to make sure it’s easy for them to take action and move on with their day. Remember to keep it simple. Don’t feel like this is your ONLY chance to make an impact. Know your audience and understand that you’ll have another full 365 days coming up to build relationships with them and sell to them in a less crowded market.
JAY GILBERT – MUSIC BIZ WEEKLY PODCAST, CO-HOST AND CURATOR OF YOUR MORNING COFFEE NEWSLETTER
Consider a Remix, Live, Acoustic or Reimagined Song
It’s an “always on” music business today. “Out of sight, out of mind” as the saying goes. Keep the communication going and your brand front of mind with new music.
Brand new music not an option? Consider a remix, live, acoustic or reimagined version of a previously released track.
Your fans are busy and distracted this time of year but many will find themselves off work at some point, accessing the web with a new device and possibly looking to purchase things with newly acquired gift cards.
EMILY WHITE – MANAGER, COLLECTIVE ENTERTAINMENT, INC
Make Holiday Themed Songs
Sales, specials, and holiday themed songs! Don’t let your online merch store just sit there, get creative with holiday sales and specials to entice your fans to engage with the store. Also, if you can get ahead of the holidays, and write and record holiday songs (which do not need to be religious, they can be about winter, snow, etc) over the Summer, that is when music supervisors are looking for such material for the forthcoming holiday season. Very few songwriters / artists are inspired to do so over the summer, so put yourself in the best possible position to land syncs by writing a holiday song now (or when you are inspired), and get it out to your synch team next summer for pitching.
MICHAEL SHERMAN – DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, FEATURE.FM
Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick…
My advice would be to maintain as much authenticity in your marketing efforts as possible – especially around the holidays. There is so much content being thrown around online, out of home and it’s all quite loud. It’s ultimately extremely cliche but speak softly and carry a big stick…
ANGELA MASTROGIACOMO – OWNER MUDDY PAW, PR
Offer Festive Unique Merch
The holiday season is such an incredible time to market yourself! You can totally jump on the Holiday bandwagon and use it as a place to jumpstart your creativity—for instance, creating holiday merch (stockings, holiday cards, santa hats, mugs with cocoa—all of which can be DIY done on the cheap) to offer your fans something festive, unique, and wholly YOU.
BRUCE HOUGHTON EDITOR OF HYPEBOT, BANDSINTOWN SENIOR ADVISOR, PRESIDENT SYKINE ARTISTS AGENCY, PROFESSOR BERKLEE ONLINE
I always look forward to the holiday season as a time to recharge. There are fewer gigs happening around the holidays and the music industry, in general, shuts down. I use that time to rest and to plan the next year including which conferences I want to attend and creating a marketing calendar to spread our efforts over the next 12 months.
This year I’m going to add in a Think Day, my own mini-version of Bill Gates’ infamous “Think Week” where I’ll spend a full day away from home and office thinking about how to better run my business and life rather than just letting it run me.
ARIEL HYATT – FOUNDER, CYBER PR MUSIC
Send a Touching Two-Way Holiday Email & Create Superfans
It is so easy to get crazy trying to run sales and specials to make money at the holidays. If you are not up for that use this season to take the time to REALLY communicate with your fans about what the season or the past year has meant to you. Send a summary of what your year was like and include the good, the bad and the ugly. Encourage your fans to write back to you and share their highs, lows and stories. It will take effort on your part to respond to the email that come in but think of this as a unique time to really bond with the fans who take the time to write back – even if it’s just a handful – these are fans who could become superfans in the long run. Bonus: This is also good because it trains your email provider to understand that you are actually having 2-way conversations and not just broadcasting.
MICHAEL BRANDVOLD – MICHAEL BRANDVOLD MARKETING
Take Stock & Protect Your Accounts
Because the holiday season is often a slower period for many artists I suggest using this time to review who has access to all your accounts, remove those who no longer need access. Change your passwords. Review what apps have access to all your account. Verify you have consistent branding and messaging on all accounts. Make domains and web server are set to auto renew.
CASSIDY TAVCAR – ARTIST FAN SUPPORT, BANDSINTOWN
Schedule in Advance and Enjoy Instead!
Take advantage of platforms and products that allow you to schedule your posts, releases, and content. This way artists and teams can enjoy their holidays while still interacting with fans. Staying ahead of the game and being proactive in planning out your holiday months is key (:
BRYAN CALHOUN – VICE PRESIDENT OF NEW MEDIA & EXTERNAL AFFAIRS AT SOUNDEXCHANGE
Leverage Free Promotion
Competition for attention is at its greatest this time of year and ad rates are at their highest, so leverage the free or really inexpensive tools you have access to to help keep costs down. For instance, Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform that allows artists to run Artist Audio Messages with CTAs so fans can link to where they can purchase. Or, maybe just wish fans happy holidays. Email fans, but be respectful. Consider that their inboxes are likely filled with offers. Send messages with offers via text using Superphone or Community for offers if they are timely.
ALEXIS JENKINS – ARTIST FAN SUPPORT, BANDSINTOWN
Break Out Your Favorite Holiday Songs
The best way to promote during the holiday season is to relate to your user with personal touches like talking about your favorite Christmas traditions/songs. It’s also a good idea to give some kind of discount or free shipping, especially during Black Friday when people are buying gifts! In order to avoid burnout make sure to plan ahead and stick to your calendar. Also don’t be afraid to say no and ask for help if you need it.
MIKE WARNER – AUTHOR OF WORK HARD PLAYLIST HARD
Wait Until Next Year For That New Release
If you haven’t released a track yet, don’t put it out until next year. Many people take a break over the holidays and come January 1st, people transition out of their jobs and you need to allow time for that to happen.
Dedicate this time to your fans, say thank you, do live streams and chat, wish them happy holidays, show the love that you want to receive in return in 2020.
Don’t schedule any sessions, meetings or work next to the big holidays. This is out of respect to yourself, your loved ones and collaborators.
HISHAM DAHUD – ARTISTPRO FOUNDER | MUSIC ARTIST (AKA RIZIK)
Make it YOU Themed
While it may be tempting to fall into cliché marketing tactics like offering musical “gifts”, holiday discounts, or piggybacking off other Christmas themes… I encourage music artists to try this instead.
Get down to the essence of what observing that holiday (whichever ones you do) uniquely means to you at this point in your life. Reflect on that intensely and offer us something that captures the spirit of that point-of-view. It can be a single piece of music, a video, a piece of concept art… or even a piece of merchandise. These offers aren’t necessarily “holiday” themed, but rather YOU themed through the guise of a shared experience that is the holiday season.
Does Christmas have you reflecting on your family history? Does the New Year evoke a spirit of renewal? Etc, etc.
The holidays are generally a heartwarming time of year, so I encourage artists to be extra vulnerable right now. Offer us something from the heart, something particularly moving about your life… and allow us to apply our own meaning through your introspection.
MELISSA GARCIA – PARTNER AT COLLECTIVE ENTERTAINMENT
Do Some Holiday Covers!
It doesn’t have to be an official release, but can be in the form of a YouTube video, or something to be shared on social media (stories, TikTok, etc.). Add a holiday sale to your merch strategy. Do you plan on having new merch designs for 2020? Need to get rid of some old inventory? Then run a sale to move merchandise. Prepare for 2020. You lose at least 2 weeks of solid marketing time because of Christmas and New Years. So if you have anything planned for January (announcements, releases, etc.), make sure to get your strategy squared away before the industry shuts down for the holidays. Stay active on social media. Keep in touch with your fans, whether through an email greeting or via social media. Share a happy holidays post and have fun with the content.
BOBBY OWSINSKI – MUSIC 3.0
Chill for the Holiday, and Plan for Next Year
If you’re trying to work your way up the music business food chain, December can be a frustrating month. Everything grinds to a slow halt early somewhere around the second week and doesn’t pick up again until the second week of January. The best thing is to remember that the reason why you’re not having your calls returned has nothing to do with you, it’s just the seasonal ebb and flow of the business. Accept the fact that the biz is slow, chill for the Holiday, and plan for next year.
CHERIE HU – FOUNDER, WATER & MUSIC
Focus On Reflection
To be honest, December is just another month in the calendar year and the holiday hype, while contagious, is temporary. So my advice in terms of avoiding burnout would be to use this time not just to squeeze in as many holiday deals as you can, but rather to focus more on reflection on key lessons from the past year, and on planning for a year of growth and health in 2020. The music industry in particular is all about the long game and about how a creative vision manifests over several months, not years — and quickly sheds people who think otherwise.