Music services not boarding the early Christmas train, but maybe they should

Monday, November 4, 2013 - 1:10pm

Tom Taylor notes in his morning newsletter that all-Christmas radio is breaking out early on the broadcast side. Taylor’s interpretation: “Most are an attempt to lay claim to the local market’s Christmas image -- even if it irritates regular listeners.”

Local broadcasters walk on a thin November ledge between pushing Christmas upon listeners too soon, and attracting Black Friday ad dollars before it’s too late. Most online music services don’t have a sufficient local sales effort to worry about that conundrum, Pandora being the exception.

But a close look at activity in several music services this morning offers indications that users might be swinging into the holiday mood sooner than their in-house programming departments. Holiday listening stations don’t usually appear in the genre lists of music services this early in November, and that trend is born out. The following services lack a Christmas or Holiday preset in their “stations” lineups: iTunes Radio, Pandora, Spotify, Rhapsody, Rdio, Slacker (even as a sub-genre of Christian).

Interestingly, user-generated shows a Christmas tag fairly high up the genre list (Android app), and digging into the details on the website shows over 300 user-created Christmas playlists, dozens of them created in the last few days. Creator comments reveal an eager early-season jubilance: “The jolliest time of year is back!” Some of these playlists were assembled in mid-October, indicating some degree of appetite for the Christmas spirit even sooner than broadcast radio is willing to bet on.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Clear Channel-owned iHeartRadio is displaying a “Holiday” channel preset this morning in the Live Radio section. Some of the listed stations are pureplays, not live, but the interesting point is user comments -- many listeners are happy to find the early dose of Christmas tunes. “Start super-duper early! Why not?”

Note to Apple, Pandora, Rhapsody et al: The Christmas train might be leaving earlier than you think. When you have an unlimited programming slate, it makes sense to claim the space early.

Bing Crosby, "White Christmas" top TuneIn users' holiday music searches

Friday, November 16, 2012 - 11:00am

Streaming aggregator and tuning service and app maker TuneIn reports on some holiday-related listener research it's done.

TuneIn says Bing Crosby is the most searched-for holiday artist among its 40 million monthly active listeners, followed by Nat King Cole, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, and Andy Williams.

Crosby's "White Christmas" is the most searched-for holiday song on TuneIn, topping "All I Want For Christmas (Is You)," "The Christmas Song," "Let It Snow," and "Blue Christmas."

Probably not a surprise, TuneIn says holiday music listening is heaviest in the U.S. and Canada -- but ranks Japan third! In the U.S., Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan show the more holiday music streaming than any other states.

TuneIn has created a special directory (here) for listeners to sample various services' holiday offerings.

There's more holiday music online than ever, but which stations are the best?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 - 11:05am

Web-RadioIf there's truly a "war on Christmas" in this country, Christmas is trouncing the opposition, at least on the radio! 

BRS Media's Web-Radio has links to more than 425 AM/FM and Internet-only streams of Christmas music -- a record number -- the company announced today. Nearly 90% of U.S. broadcasters that have flipped to an all-Christmas format are streaming online. BRS Media says that's up from 75% last year. The total number of Christmas stations streaming has more than doubled in the past five years. You can see the Web-Radio Christmas section here. BRS offers a Web-Radio Christmas Player widget too, here

Radio-Info 25+Sean Ross, in his 25-Plus column in Radio-Info, is conducting the first Holiday Format Reader Poll. Nearly 100 stations have been nominated in eight categories. Adult Contemporary/Hot AC U.S. broadcasters that have gone all-Christmas are broken down by market size across three categories. AM/FM stations that aren't AC or Hot AC that are playing holiday music 24/7 get their own category. "New platforms" (Internet-only and SiriusXM) get two categories: "mainstream" and "non-traditional." There's a Canadian broadcaster category, and one for Hanukkah stations. Voting is open, and Sean's left room for write-ins too!

Read BRS Media's press release here. Read Sean Ross' 25-Plus (and vote!) here.

Custom Channels offers broadcasters customized Christmas music stream

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - 11:00am

"Research has shown that listeners to all formats seek out Christmas music during the holidays – so if you’re not providing that service under your brand umbrella, you’re virtually forcing listeners to tune away to media you don’t control and can’t monetize."

Custom Channels That's Dave Rahn, president of Custom Channels, which is building online custom Holiday Music Channels for broadcasters. So instead of abandoning their favorite local station and going to a market competitor that's gone "all Christmas" for the season, listeners can enjoy holiday music from their favorite station's website.

Custom Channels' "soup to chestnuts" package includes all costs (including music licensing) plus sales tools and recommendations for station advertisers. Read more here.

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