Seasonal Covers are PR Gold for Indies
When I first started playing guitar, 11 years old, determined to be the next Courtney Love (oh youth), an uncle suggested that I write a Halloween song. Besides the Monster Mash, there was a serious lack of Halloween songs out there, so he felt that any contribution to the genre would be sure to make me famous.
I declined, at the time, to engage in anything that was so obviously not grunge, but in recent years, indie musicians have made up for my reluctance. All-indie Halloween music playlists have abounded over the last few years, changing the face of the seasonal song industry. And what’s happening around Halloween is only a pale ghost of the phenomenal enthusiasm surrounding Christmas, er, I mean, mid-winter holiday festival music.
Modern Day Minstrels
Although there is no lack of Christmas music, as there once was for Halloween, there’s also no shortage of interest in new additions to the holiday playlist. In recent years, indie superstars like Jack Johnson, Polyphonic Spree, and The Raveonettes have generated serious buzz by releasing holiday song covers and originals.
In 2005, Sufjan Stevens even had the stones to release the hulking five-album Songs for Christmas – a recorded history of holiday jams with friends and family. And far from becoming an obscure and hulking career misstep, it’s made the average indie geek’s seasonal playlist on an annual basis ever since.
This year’s offerings have already begun, with Strokes’ frontman Julian Casablancas releasing a cover of the SNL classic “I Wish It Was Christmas Today,” as part of a promotion for his new solo album. Canadian punk rockers Fucked Up are also getting in on the action, using a recent $20, 000 prize to record an indie remake of “Do They Know It’s Christmas.”
Do the Christmas Creep
For an indie artist trying to generate a bit of buzz, this is the perfect time to release a holiday single. Not only is everyone on the hunt for new Christmas music, a fresh seasonal tune has a great chance of getting picked up on compilations or movie soundtracks. Christmas movies are always desperate for a catchy take on a traditional melody.
Right now, there are hundreds of indie music resources out there working on their 2009 Christmas party recs. Record an mp3, send it around, and enjoy a promotional boost. The best part is that even if you couldn’t write a holiday song to save your life, you can always go back through the archives, pick some old chestnut no one’s rediscovered yet, and turn it into the revamped holiday hit of the year.
There are a few different avenues to consider for getting attention to your Christmas mp3.
Indie Radio Stations
Radio tends to cater to cheerful xmas fanatics around the holidays, and indie radio is no different. Many stations will do a whole series of holiday shows or podcasts, and are always looking to showcase new favorites. Australia’s Indie Showcase is currently looking for artists to submit to their Indie Christmas Series (Contact them on Twitter). Irish songwriters can also submit their original creations to a song contest on ChristmasFM.
Indie Music Blogs
IndieRockCafe, in particular, put together a massive collection of indie holiday tracks in 2007, refused to reiterate in 2008, but is in danger of losing their cred if they don’t bring the freshness in 2009. C’mon guys! We don’t wanna listen to the same music year after year! That’s not really in the true spirit of Christmas.
There’s a million of them, and around Christmas, community members will be searching like crazy for fun holiday tracks. So get on sites like Elbo.ws, Last.fm, MOG, and Supernova to upload and promote your (preferably clever, possibly ironic) Christmas ballad.
An Indie Christmas Special
It’s a sweet promotional tool, and it’s a lot of fun. Whether you decide to put on a live show, produce a podcast, or record a video, a Christmas show can be a great way to bring fans together. Collaborating with other musicians is always a bonus, and it’s not the kind of event that’s very hard to put together. Brush up on a few of your favorite holiday covers, get the audience to sing along, and you’ve got a success.
Submit Your Original Mp3 to GigHive!
That’s right, we’re putting together a Christmas album, made up for the best new holiday songs from the raddest indie bands working today. Fit the bill? Submit your original track (ok, ok, it can be a cover, as long as it’s an awesome cover) here for consideration. We’d love for your music to be a part of Gighive’s first official indie Christmas roundup!