Earlier this week one of our clients, who had moved to the Upstate a few months back, remarked about the high amount of Christmas music being played already. The exact quote was something along the lines of “I can’t believe there is a station already playing it non-stop.” That got me wondering. Don’t all radio stations in all markets play Christmas music this early? I’ve just assumed from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon with a stopover in Peoria that every part of the country already was jamming to Alvin and the Chipmunks by the first week of November.
According to Music Radio Creative,“it’s generally accepted that the real Christmas countdown begins the day after Thanksgiving and radio stations will begin to playlist Xmas tunes to get listeners into the festive spirit. Some start as early as the day after Halloween!”
Not scientific, but it is the best we could find. But that means anything can happen when it comes to carols and more.
Now, back to the real topic of Christmas music. People seem to fall into two distinct camps: either stations “shouldn’t play it before Thanksgiving” or “keep the music rolling.” Of course, this stems back to the major debate of the past few years of whether the “Christmas season” starts way too early i.e. trees go up too early, ads start too early, um, radio stations start playing songs too early.
Just some quick facts, both anecdotal and factual:
- Back in the 1980s, I swear that K-Mart used to start posting ads for Christmas wrapping paper in late July. I have no proof of this, but I do remember cutting those out of the Sunday section and giving them to my mother. It was my subtle way of saying Christmas season.
- In the song “We Need a Little Christmas,” from the musical Mame, a person is heard lamenting that they are putting up decorations too early because “it’s one week from Thanksgiving.” Depending on the singer, it either sounds that it is a week before or week after Turkey Day.
- Despite some memes floating around stating the claymation classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, premiered in November 1964, it actually came out in December. First week of December, but still within the respected realms of the holiday.
- As far as we can tell, it is socially acceptable to drink pumpkin spice lattes in November.
So, what does this mean? From a marketing and PR perspective (which is what we do) there is a science and reason why stations start playing Christmas music so early, it makes people shop more. According to Bustle.com, some retailers defend their choice by claiming that Christmas music makes you buy more, putting you into such a jolly spirit that you don’t think twice about dropping cash on presents you wouldn’t otherwise buy.
Of course, there is a downside: A 2011 Consumer Reports survey found that 23 percent of Americans admitted to dreading seasonal music each year, and in a 2014 poll conducted by the Research Intelligence Group in Montreal, 36 percent of respondents said they hadleft a store soonerbecause they disliked the music.
Where do stand on Christmas music? Are you a Grooge (that is our combo of Scrooge and The Grinch) or are you ready to rock like Rudolph?