If you’ve already begun to hear Christmas music pop up in retail stores this year, you aren’t alone.
The start date for Christmas music season has been pushed back over the years, according to Magnus Rydén, who heads up content for Spotify-backed Soundtrack Your Brand, a startup that provides music for businesses.
Rydén says a few years ago, the season began in earnest the first week of December, but now some businesses are rolling out the Christmas tunes even before Thanksgiving.
This might work to get the Christmas — and gift-shopping — spirit going earlier, but it can be grating for retail employees. “We start to get complaints [from employees] the first and second week of December,” Sven Grundberg, SYB’s VP of communications, explains. Their professional advice for retailers: mix it up a bit, don’t just have the same exact covers. “Think about your employees,” Grundberg adds. (Here’s an “Indie Christmas” playlist SYB recommends).
As to which artists rule Christmas, SYB looked at data from over 30 million song streams from six countries last year, and found that Michael Bublé was the undisputed winner. He was followed by Justin Bieber and Mary J. Blige, though old favourites Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby made the top bunch.
Grundberg says that while newer artists record Christmas music, producing an original Christmas hit that isn’t a cover is extremely difficult. He considers the last big one to be Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” which was released in 1994.
Here’s a chart of SYB’s Christmas artist power ranking:
And here is a look at the top Christmas songs:
Rydén says that in SYB’s experience working with clients, retail stores begin playing Christmas music earlier than restaurants. But there’s two places you’re a lot less likely to hear it : the spa and the gym.