Musician Gift Guide 2020

How You Can Help an Independent Artist This Holiday Season

    icon Nov 19, 2020
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Normally in this space we would be suggesting to you several independent releases that would make excellent holiday gifts for the music lovers on your Santa’s list.  However, in the true spirit of 2020, we have been forced to adapt a bit to the new reality of our region's music scene at the moment.

The biggest issue is that there simply haven't been that many physical releases of product this year.  There are a lot of reasons behind that, chief probably being the strong shift in consumer focus to streaming and away from physical platforms. The other is that many, if not most, musicians who release CDs or LPs do it for the following reasons:  a) to sell at gigs, b) financed them from money they make playing live or c) both.

In the face of a changing marketplace and without the revenue from live performances, local artists don't have a lot for you to put under the tree this year.  In fact, they will often be wondering how they are going to navigate a holiday season that is usually among the most lucrative of the year for a gigging musician.

So, in the spirit of improvisation, we offer a different kind of gift guide:  How You Can Help An Independent Artist This Season.

Smaller Budgets

If you are working on a tight budget yourself or pressed for time, one the best things you can do for an artist is engage with them on social media.  It is very easy to “Like” their page and their posts, and to share their activities. 

We know they have shared that new song or video again and again, and you liked it before, but think about what you know about social media algorithms or even how songs get popular on the radio.  One time doesn't do much.  Repetition breeds familiarity.

If you can help an artist get over some of the barriers to entry that the social media sites use to get pulled into their algorithmic suggestions, you are doing them a huge favor.  For instance, simply getting over 500 likes on a Facebook page will increase the number of placements for that page's posts by a factor of about five. 

This is really simple effort.  It’s extremely cost effective and greatly appreciated by the artists in question.

Moderate Budgets

Maybe you are still a little tight on cash, but have a bit of extra time available.  One thing you could consider is giving your favorite artists a few spins on your favorite streaming service or host a watch party for their latest video. 

Maybe you could even go as far as making your own video of one of their songs, with lyrics or royalty free imagery. 

We understand time is precious, but so are plays in the current market.  Completed spins, additions to playlists, subscriptions and shares are all things that help the hosting companies understand what the content is (genre, style, audience demographic) and who would be interested in it. 

Maybe if you use the current circumstances to put a new release on repeat – the way you did when you were a teenager holed up in your bedroom – you might just find a song or an album that resonates with you the same way your life-long favorites have.

“Luxury” Budgets

One of the most supportive things you can do for a recording artist is download their output.  Where it might take 2000 streams to make a dollar, an artist can pocket that much or more from a single download sale.

Sites like Bandcamp and Amazon host artist catalogs, including high quality downloads, physical releases and merchandise.  Bandcamp, unlike most, will also allow you to “name your own price,” which is an opportunity to tip them a little bit more if you wish.

You will find many local artists on Bandcamp and Amazon, including those that we have covered over the last year.  Many artists will also have their own website, which allows them to keep 100% of the proceeds from the sale.

The most high-profile release from this area in the last year was probably the Reed Recording Company collaborative Echoes: Remembering The Music Of Tom Petty.  Downloads of this album also benefit All Music Is Power, a non-profit founded by Reed Recording regulars..

For the rockers reading this, you may find what you are looking for from post-punk hard rockers like Orc or Audrey Burne

Also from the Rock genre, Andy Dalton's The Fireside Wake earned him a lot of recognition at this year's Review Awards

JD Dominowski's “Teal” is another solid EP release with some growl.

Eric Braeutigam (aka ‘Brody’) has a new releases titled Blues Jeans And Misery that offers up a very listenable set for those that gravitate toward singer / songwriters like Jason Isbell and Tyler Childers.

If you like if you like your Americana with and Adult Contemporary twist, you may want to look into Amy Petty's “Darkness of Birds.”

Do you prefer your music to be a hybrid of strains?  How about the R&B tinged "danceable folk" of Marsupial Creampie's Pass It On.

Power pop enthusiasts may find a lot to like on Downtime, the newest release from Nick Piunti and the Complicated Men. 

Nightshift Blues, by Rick Gellise, is a must listen for those that are inclined toward toe tapping retro rockers.

Rosco Selley's F.O.R. Collective is back for a second round, this time leaning into the Funk.

As you are reading this, you may very well be thinking of other releases that should  be on this list.  You can go ahead and download those, too.  This is a “gift” that doesn't have to originate on this list.  It's the spirit of the season that counts. 

This year, why not give back to those that have been making music for all of us.

Here's some links to the many releases we've mentioned above:


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