If you want to sell music this Christmas, try making it about Christmas.
During the most recent sales week in the US, more than one-third of chart-topping albums were Christmas-themed, a ratio that could increase heading into the 25th.
Actually, the ratio is stronger than that: 75 titles on the latest Billboard 200 – or 37.5 percent – were all about Christmas. The list starts with Michael Buble’s appropriately-titled Christmas, which has now crossed sales of one million after just a few weeks.
But anyone with an audience can play this game, with little or no songwriting required. The chart-topping list spans Elvis Presley, the Chipmunks, Lady Gaga, Enya, Mannheim Steamroller, Susan Boyle, Mariah Carey, and even Sarah McLachlan, with songs like “First Noel,” “Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire,” and “Winter Wonderland” doing the trick once again.
And, nearly all of these albums carry ‘Christmas’ in the title, with just a just a sprinkling of more generic ‘winter’ themes. So much for yesteryear’s PC-friendly holiday.
Others in the industry are also riding the Santa gravy train. According to recent Arbitron stats, it’s not uncommon for radio stations to experience doubled ratings when they switch their format entirely over the Christmas music. “There’s no other programming tactic in radio history that consistently delivers ratings increases better than Christmas music,” Clear Channel Radio SVP Darren Davis recently told the Hollywood Reporter.
Stations are increasingly getting the memo, and even establishing regular format switches year-after-year to condition listeners (and more importantly, advertisers). This year, Clear Channel is switching 100 of its 650 stations, according to the report.