As much as things are always changing in the music industry there is still a lot that remains the same. Beginning at the end of October every year, the music business as a whole quietly starts winding down operations in anticipation of the holiday season. Most major PR firms and labels offer employees anywhere from 1-3 weeks near the end of the year because there is little to no new business to be done. Everyone is typically too busy with family and celebrations – as they should be – to care about work, and so far 2016 appears to be no different.
While this is an awesome thing for those fortunate enough to have full-time employment in music it is often frustrating for those on the come up. Bloggers and music writers, for example, have to work harder and harder to keep their readership up as the industry begins to release less and less news. This, all while the number of singles and albums released week to week from notable artists takes a significant plunge.
Similar frustrations exist for independent professionals in management, publicity, production, and all other corners of the industry. Unless you are making enough money to live comfortably for a month without any new income, the end of the calendar year always seems to add a bit extra stress to daily life. Family and holidays help to ease the mind, of course, but such downtimes can start to feel like an attempt at financially treating water if one does not plan in advance.
Knowing the slowdown is coming is a good step toward not losing your mind when work essentially grinds to a halt here in four weeks time, but there are things you can do to prepare as well:
- Starting today, make a calendar from now until the end of the year detailing all the work you hope to accomplish. If you’re an artist, outline you creative goals as well as your promotion ones. If you run a blog, outline your planned features and when you want them to run. Be specific.
- Speak with any collaborators, parents, or bandmates you may have about holiday travel plans. Everyone deserves time to disconnect and be with family. Knowing when people plan to unplug can prevent any problems over responsibilities and activity from interrupting someone’s time with their loved ones.
- Make a plan to disconnect yourself. Contrary to what that crazy voice inside your head may be telling you there are very few, if any, people expecting you to be steadily churning out new work throughout the final two weeks of 2016. All websites see a decline in traffic around Christmas and New Year. Many artists see a decline in attendance at shows as well. People are still enjoying music and engaging with it, but their focus is largely on other, far more important things. Don’t miss out on time with your family because you believe you are able to be the creative that changes this global trend. For once, accept that you, like everyone else, needs a break.
- Set goals for the new year. Once you plan the remainder of 2016 and set aside time for relaxation you might as well get a head start on your plans for 2017. You’ll no doubt want to hit the ground running once the holidays have all passed, and having a plan of action in place is a good way to ensure that happens.
- Take time to reflect on – and take pride in – what you have accomplished this year. All creative people that I know are hard on themselves far more often than they should be because they have an insatiable thirst to see what else can be done. While a drive to keep pushing forward is admirable it can also be problematic. There will always be another task to complete or achievement to unlock. The mountain never ends, so if you’re waiting to reach the top before celebrating your successes that time will never come. The end of the year slowdown creates a unique opportunity to disengage from the day to day struggle long enough to look at your body of work as a whole. Don’t miss out.
James Shotwell is the Digital Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also the Film Editor for Substream Magazine and host of the Inside Music podcast. We recommend you follow him on Twitter.