While the corporate world and almost everyone else are out of the office for the holidays, I often struggle with this forced “downtime”; as a full-time musician, I’m never not working. I’m either plugging my next show, looking for the next film placement, writing a song, scheduling a band rehearsal, calling booking companies, or, at the very least, thinking about one of these things. Normally, most of the things we do as musicians are hard to do when the entire music industry is hibernating for a week, and an inbox full of “out of office” auto replies is simply useless to me. So how can we capitalize on this time of year?

I’ve come up with a solution for RMS (restless musician syndrome) that allows me to be a part of the holiday season and spirit without abandoning my work-a-holic diligence. I want to share it with you. (This is my present to you, so don’t expect a fruitcake this year, mmm kay?)

1) Write or remix a song to have a holiday feel and release it on iTunes (I like to go through TuneCore or ReverbNation – both have good single release plans that can get your song up on iTunes whenever you want) end of November. I took my song “I Luv U” from my new record and added sleigh bells, remixed the strings, raised the glockenspiel and tweaked the vocals and voila! a holiday single is born, and is available on iTunes as we speak (or read)!

2) Build contact lists for yourself. All you need is an internet connection and a little quiet time (read: sorry Aunt Greta! I can’t go to your holiday knitting party, I have to work on my career today). Start making lists of the contact info for companies you want to work with, whether management companies, licensing or publishing companies, booking agencies, or PR firms. When school is back in session, you’ll have a nice list of phone numbers and emails to reach out to, and all you have to do is press send.

3) Plan a live show for just after the holiday. With all of your family in town, happily reunited, you’ll be able to spread the word and get some more family butts in the seats than any other time of year. Promise a few holiday favorites, and maybe even take requests at the dinner table so you can have a few days to prepare their favorites.

4) Let people know that you perform at holiday parties, whether a corporate party or a private house concert. Make announcements to your fan mailing list, Facebook fans and friends, and place an ad on Craigslist. If you’re going to be home for the holidays, put an ad out in your local newspaper, or, even better, try and schedule a short interview with a staff writer. They can take the angle that “singer songwriter So-And-So is coming home for the holidays and is bringing the music with them!” or something like that. I’m no newspaper writer. Once you get a few gigs, take the time to learn a few holiday favorites and you’ll be golden.

5) Share what you have going on…. With conviction! Talk like you have a plan (even better, actually have a plan!) for the upcoming months, and get the closest people in your life psyched with you. These people want to know you are doing okay and that you are happy. What better gift can you give than to say you are working on a new record, or planning your next tour, or setting up meetings with publishing companies! They’ll be inspired to see you’re following your dreams with confidence, and inspiration is priceless.

Happy holidays!

Cheryl…. a looooong time ago