Music fans are a tricky bunch to buy gifts for. I’ve learned this firsthand, mostly by shopping for a few in my own life every December, but also by being one myself. You’ve probably run into trouble with this, too. It likely won’t do to buy the music fans on your list any old record and call it a day. You’ve gotta be fairly sure that they’ll like the album — or that they don’t already own it. (And what if you’re shopping for that very particular breed of hyper-judgy music fan? You know the kind. If you mess up and get them the “wrong” kind of music, there’s a chance they’ll hold a grudge. A silent one. For years. Yikes.) But don’t fret; there are a few routes you can take. The first is indirect: accessories, gadgets and doodads that play off your giftee’s love of music but don’t require you to precisely pinpoint their taste.
Books? Documentaries? Also great options — “music fan” so often goes hand-in-hand with “music nerd” that providing a means to become even more engrossed in a particular artist is likely to be a hit. Releases from tiny labels like Old Hat and Dust-to-Digital make especially great presents for musicheads whose tastes lean toward dusty oddities. (Barbecue Any Old Time fits the bill nicely.) And for anyone looking to fuel a loved one’s music obsession with relatively little effort, I can’t think of a better option than a subscription to Rdio, the best online music-streaming site I’ve ever used (sorry, Spotify). Maybe if you’re lucky, you’ll get a thank-you mix in return. — Rachael
6. Guitar Strap, $43.50; 7. Recycled Record Bookends (set of 2), $40; 8. Buddy Holly Calavera Serigraph, $10; 9. Mini-Harmonica Necklace, $24; 10. Guitar String Ring, $15; 11. Handmade Michael Jackson Mug, $39
12. The Beach Boys’ Smile Sessions Box Set, $139.99; 13. The Last Waltz Blu-ray, $19.99; 14. Any Entry in Continuum’s 33 1/3 Series, $10.95; 15. Atlanta: Hip-Hop and the South by Michael Schmelling (photos), Kelefa Sanneh (text) and Will Welch (interviews), $29.95; 16. Rdio Gift Subscription, any amount; 17. Barbecue Any Old Time: Blues from the Pit, 1927–1942, $16.95; 18. Hatch Show Print: The History of a Great American Poster Shop by Jim Sherraden, Elek Horvath and Paul Kingsbury, $35