Finding holiday gifts for musicians and music lovers is not always an easy task, especially with all of the kitschy and expensive items you’ll find in some of the holiday gift guides out there. The 20 gifts we have listed for musicians and music lovers are items they will find useful and thoughtful, and should be able to accommodate all budgets. Because 2020 has been an especially hard year for musicians and the music industry, there are also some ideas in here that can help you shop more intentionally and make a small difference with your purchase.
Clothes and Accessories
Pay homage to women in rap with a shirt or sweatshirt donning the face of Lil’ Kim, Nicki Minaj, Queen Latifah, and also ill Camille, a celebrated MC who will be starting her first semester at Berklee Online this January. Etsy artist Trini Geecan can personalize the shirt further if there’s a rapper you’d like to see included. We’d obviously recommend Dutch ReBelle, one of the featured artists from our Roaring Crowdfund podcast.
See the Women of Rap shirt in the featured image.
If you’re looking for small and meaningful $10 gifts for musicians and music lovers, these enamel pins are perfect. Instrument designs include a Telecaster guitar, accordion, mandolin, piano, ukulele, and fiddle. They’re a great stocking stuffer for those who are near, and can easily slip into an envelope for those who are far.
3. Artist Merch
Purchasing merchandise from the favorite local band or indie artist of your friend or loved one does a whole lot of good. Go with a T-shirt, sweatshirt, poster, mug, beanie—you can’t go wrong! We suggest you buy directly from the artist’s website, or from an artist-friendly site like Bandcamp, and think about who could use the funds more: i.e., the indie artist vs. the rock stars and pop stars.
Here are some musicians and bands who have appeared on the Music is My Life podcast who are selling cool merch:
From earrings to bracelets to necklaces, these pieces of handcrafted upcycled guitar string jewelry from High Strung Studios make totally unique gifts for musicians and music lovers. Plus a portion of the proceeds go to the nonprofit Musicians on a Mission.
Whether you’re enrolled at Berklee or not, it doesn’t matter; sweatpants and sweatshirts are some of the most in-demand clothing items of 2020. Help someone stay cozy while repping Berklee College of Music with these soft fleece sweats.
6. A Virtual Concert
This year, many artists have moved their concerts online to recoup some of the lost income from touring. Gifting a virtual concert is a thoughtful gift, and a great way to support the gift recipient’s favorite artists. The virtual monetized concert platform StageIt gives you the option to gift a concert. SongKick is another monetized live stream platform to check out. On Berklee Online’s upcoming episode of the Music is My Life podcast, the band AJR discusses how they’re launching an immersive virtual concert experience. Tickets are on sale now.
Many acts have moved their performances to Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, encouraging audiences to donate to their virtual Venmo or PayPal tip jar. Another way to gift a virtual concert, while directing all funds to an artist, is to donate straight to their tip jar. In the donation message, you could even say that the tip is from the gift recipient, and maybe even request their favorite song for the musician’s next performance. Then tell the person you’re giving the gift to that their tip is all set for the next time they tune into a live stream.
7. Support a Local Music Venue
One of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic have been the small local music venues. If you know someone who loves going to see shows at a local venue that’s been closed, get them a gift card so that they can buy tickets once they open back up.
Here’s an example from Club Passim in Cambridge, MA.
Many small venues and cinemas are offering streaming subscriptions for recorded concerts or films. A subscription could be another thoughtful gift option.
Additionally, you could gift merch from the venue. Check out what the historic Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ is selling.
Okay, this is our last self-promotional post, but hear us out: While you can’t gift someone else a Berklee Online course (just yourself!), you could send them the tuition amount through a service like Venmo.
Give the gift of ad-free listening with a Spotify Premium subscription. If you know someone who is suffering through the ads just to save $10 each month, give them a subscription so they can get hours back in their life, the luxury of limitless skips, and of course their Spotify Wrapped insights at the end of the year. Gift cards are available at stores such as Best Buy and Target.
Gifts for the Vinyl Collector
These frames allow you to put your 12” vinyl records on display, while keeping them easily accessible and protected. With a press of a button, the frame flips open, allowing you to pop it on a turntable and put it back when you’re done. Form and function at its finest!
For about $5 per month, you can gift someone a 3-12 month subscription to Vinyl Post, an indie record club that offers singles pressed on vinyl postcards. And yes, you can play the postcards on a record player! Each single is curated by the music blog birp.fm and features up and coming indie, dream pop, and lo-fi artists.
For your friend or family member who is looking to take the plunge into vinyl, but doesn’t yet have a record player, Crosley has a selection of retro-looking turntables, many falling under $100.
Giving a gift card to a local record store is good all around: you’re supporting a business in your gift recipient’s area, you’re giving them the experience of going into the record store, and the rush of buying a record. You can use this database to find a store in the person’s area. Depending on the shop, either buy them a gift card online, or call up the store to see if they can send it by mail.
Music Art and Literature
Synesthesia is a phenomenon when different senses cross neurological pathways. Some people with synesthesia experience sound and color together as one, which makes for a really unique gift. How does it work? Send UK artist Sigourney Young a song that you would like her to translate into art, and you’ll receive a one-of-a-kind painting of her colorful interpretation.
15. Album Art and Photography
William Schaff is an artist and musician based in Rhode Island known for his album artwork for Okkervil River, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Brown Bird, Songs: Ohia and Jason Molina. You can shop many of his original drawings for under $100.
For your friend who loves ’90s punk rock, give them a historic snapshot of the era by JJ Gonson, who has photographed Elliott Smith (she also shot a few of his album covers, and prints of those are available on her site too), Kurt Cobain, Sonic Youth, Evan Dando of the Lemonheads, and more. Right now she’s having a sale where you can buy some of her pieces for $100.
16. Art Inspired by Musicians
These Shepard Fairey-inspired posters make an awesome gift for a blues-lover, and fall below $20. Featured artists include Billie Holiday, Howlin’ Wolf, Gatemouth Brown, Koko Taylor, Etta James, and T-Bone Walker.
Give someone their favorite song lyrics in the form of an artist portrait. Etsy artist Romy has several musicians to choose from including David Bowie, (yes, those are song lyrics all over his Aladdin Sane album cover image) Tom Petty, Eddie Vedder, and more.
Tebello Mosenene is an artist from Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa who creates colorful media illustrations of musicians such as Billie Eilish, Beyoncé, Childish Gambino, Sade, and more.
17. 2020 Books about Music
Add another hardcover to someone’s collection with these five books about music that were released in 2020.
- Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton
- Meals, Music, and Muses: Recipes from My African American Kitchen by chef and world-renowned opera singer Alexander Smalls
- Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar by Oliver Craske
- Music by Max Steiner: The Epic Life of Hollywood’s Most Influential Composer by Steven C. Smith
- Nobody Ever Asked Me About the Girls: Women, Music, and Fame by Lisa Robinson
Practical Music Gifts
If there’s one thing composers could always use more of, it’s blank staff paper. This spiral notebook from Hal Leonard is preferred for several reasons. It’s spiral bound and can easily sit on a piano’s music desk or on a music stand, the paper is thick, and includes 12 staves per page. At $4.99 per notebook, give several in bulk, or include one as part of a larger gift.
The Blue Yeti is an easy-to-use, quick to get up-and-running USB microphone known for its quality and relatively low price tag at $130. If you know someone who is looking to elevate the quality of their laptop’s microphone, start a podcast, or have a better sound over a livestream, then the Blue Yeti is a great way to go.
20. A DAW Subscription
A Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW, is an expense that most musicians need to shell out. If you know someone who would appreciate a subscription to a DAW program, here are some gifting options for a few programs:
Apple’s Logic Pro X priced at $199.99, is a good option for Mac users. Here are instructions on how to gift an app, however, the easiest route may be gifting an Apple gift card. Here are instructions for gifting Ableton Live and Avid’s Pro Tools. Again, an easier route might be a gift card to a place like Sweetwater where the receiver can buy the DAW license themselves.