A tip for surviving the industry holiday slowdown

The holiday season is upon us, and in no time at all businesses across the industry will go dark so employees can celebrate this time of year with their loved ones. It’s a beautiful thing, especially in an industry notorious for long hours, but for a few professionals it’s also maddening. Allow me to explain…

While many music professionals are able to setup out of office replies for the holidays there are still bloggers, podcasters, and a wide variety of media people in between with audiences who demand a constant feed of fresh content. When the industry goes dark for the holiday these poor souls (including yours truly) find themselves clicking through every pitch they receive in hopes of discovering something worth writing about. More often than not they settle on additional editorial content, generally in the form of telling you the best stuff you might have missed, and they pray it’s enough to keep clicks rolling in while the snow falls.

There is a saying in journalism that you should seek to tell stories you would want to read. If you should find yourself writing something you have no interest in reading it is highly likely those who find that article will feel the same. As much as fresh stories in a feed can be good for business is it really worth whatever investment of time they require if next to no one cares to read them?

People care less about entertainment news around the holidays than they do practically any other time of year. Don’t take this personally though, as it is true for virtually every publication. Entertainment and entertainment news is the distraction we fill our days with when doing things we would otherwise avoid if we could, like work. Holidays are communal escapes, offerings friends and family the chance to do things they want to do, therefore lowering the need for distractions.

To put it another way, the demand does not exist because the need for something that brings joy is met through other (arguably far more important) means.

This year, I want to challenge all music writers out there to try something different. Rather than beat your head against your keyboard in between clicking refresh on your RSS feeds just try and take a little time to experience what the rest of the world does this time of year. Schedule tweets and make whatever necessary posts you feel you must make to maintain appearances, but as soon as that is done shutdown your computer and experience this thing call life. Talk to the people who support you and tell them of your vision for the new year. Ask people what they have been up to with their time, and make it a point to really listen to their words. Be present, and remember you will never have two holiday seasons that work the same way. The people around you now may not be there next year, so don’t take a minute for granted.

This won’t be easy, but I have good news: The music industry will still be here when you get back. I know you will feel like you are slipping behind, but there is rarely a single headline in the last ten to fourteen days of the new year that drastically impacts the music landscape. You know this as well as I do, so quit lying to yourself and accept that it is okay to spend a little time offline. Who knows? It might even do you good to unplug.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.