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> Music Week - Find Room For Non Festive Music At Christmas, Plus Christmas Streaming Report
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post Dec 8 2020, 04:35 PM
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Music Week report - I’m sure this is the start of them dwarfing more and more into the Billboard chart and we will see the arrival of new rules and/or a holiday chart nocheer.gif

QUOTE
Here’s a controversial opinion for you: it’s still too bloody early to put your Christmas tree up.

Your correspondent is sadly old enough to remember a time when most people only got their decorations down from the loft a week before the big day. This year, Instagram was full of big reveals from mid-November.

Of course, 2020 is a unique year and no wonder everyone is desperate for a little festive cheer. But the season’s ever-earlier start is also having serious ramifications for the music business.

It’s hard to tell whether streaming has revealed that people everywhere listen to Christmas music earlier than we thought, or whether it’s simply inflicted American listening habits on the rest of the world. The US holiday season always started early, thanks to the Christmas dry-run that is Thanksgiving. Now it seems like people go full Mariah Carey before Halloween is over.

Do we really want the last two months of the year to be a write-off for anything but old standards when we could also be listening to great new music?

But what if you’re a new artist, or even an established one with a great new song ready to go? Nowadays, releasing non-festive new music is pretty much off limits from late October, because, by the time you’ve made a breakthrough, you know you’ll risk being squeezed out of the charts by hardy perennials. Half of this week’s Top 20 singles are festive-related, with countless others further down the chart.

And with radio now just as enthusiastic about Yuletide anthems – even Radio 2 played nothing but Christmas songs on December 1 – there’s no escape. No wonder every artist on earth currently seems to be rushing out a festive song in an attempt to keep their monthly listeners up on streaming services.

Look, I love festive tunes as the next person – even if that person is Michael Bublé's accountant. And, of course, some new Christmas music – such as our cover star Dolly Parton’s brilliant new record – is a joyous addition to the canon. And festive catalogue is an easy win for labels and publishers and, after the roughest of years, it’s hard to begrudge them that. After all, the best Christmas tunes will always keep spirits bright.

But you can have too much of a good thing. Do we really want the last two months of every year to be a write-off for anything but old standards and new versions of those old standards, when we could also be listening to some great new music?

After all, the music business is for life, not just for Christmas
Christmas Streaming Report

QUOTE
As Christmas arrives early on the singles chart, execs have spoken about how festive songs have become crucial to the annual streaming performance of music companies.

Mariah Carey’s 1994 hit All I Want For Christmas Is You could finally reach No.1 this year. Last week it made No.2 (36,251 sales – OCC). The single’s career sales are 2,816,285.

According to Official Charts Company data, streams for Christmas music were already up 44.5% year-on-year in chart week 48 (to November 26) – a total of 71 million streams. For the year to date, the increase is 43.7%, with 252m streams up to last month.

“This year everybody’s listening to Christmas music earlier than usual,” said Rhino UK’s director of catalogue marketing, Stuart Wheeley. “It was something we talked about internally, that the end of a tough year like this would draw listeners on the platforms to music that brings more comfort and familiarity.”

According to head of music Patrick Clifton, festive songs are over-indexing on Amazon Music.

“We’ve already seen a 78% global increase in Christmas and festive-related streams on Amazon Music from last year – and we are also seeing strong global performances for our Amazon Christmas Originals, which is very encouraging,” he said.

Jess Glynne’s exclusive cover of Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas has already made the Top 30 (No.28, 16,395 sales). River, Ellie Goulding’s Amazon Original, made No.1 in 2019.

“We’ve had a good start, and all the work Jess and her label [Atlantic] are doing to promote the track on TV and radio can only help,” said Clifton. “But as always the race to Christmas No.1 is anybody’s guess right up to the last minute.”

Perennials are beginning to dominate the singles rundown with almost three weeks until the official Christmas No.1.

Wham!’s Last Christmas is back in the Top 5 (No.3, 32,351 sales). It continues to benefit from 2019’s Last Christmas film. “It’s a great example of a sync that will deliver for years to come,” said Shani Gonzales, Warner Chappell UK MD and head of international A&R.

Gonzales underlined the global revenue growth in holiday music.

“They generate more streaming spins every December that passes and, as a result, we’ve seen a steady uptick in revenue from these songs each year,” she said. “Our Christmas songs are already climbing the charts this year, much earlier than usual – it’s safe to say everyone is ready for some Christmas cheer after a crazy 2020. This is also an international phenomenon, we’re seeing spikes in streams from markets around the world, from the US to Australia.”

Malena Wolfer, Believe’s head of artist services, noted that DSPs start promoting festive playlists in October.

“This is aided by increased volumes of product from artists who see festive tracks as a way to engage fans over the holidays and to grow their audience beyond the playlist space that they normally occupy,” she said.

UK playlists such as Spotify UK’s Christmas Is Coming (922,946 followers) have helped Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl back into the Top 10 already (No.8, 25,271 sales). The classic 1987 single made No.4 in Christmas week last year, but was still outside the Top 20 at this stage of the race.

“Christmas is critical to our overall streaming performance for the year,” said Stuart Wheeley. “We started planning almost as soon as we were out of the last Christmas period.

“We discuss with each DSP individually to understand what they are looking for, and how a track like Fairytale Of New York can be prioritised. It’s still bringing in new audiences each and every year through its inclusion within a wider range of playlists.”

Christmas streaming is still way off its peak, which traditionally arrives in the run-up to December 25. The OCC logged 367m festive streams in that chart week last year – 37.6% of the yearly total.

“It’s about thinking about what works creatively for people’s playlists and listening habits,” said Lettice Summerscale, VP of marketing, digital catalogue promotion, Sony/ATV. “Outside of making sure the hits are covered, we think very broadly in terms of mood, incorporating festive film scores and wintery instrumentals.”

Chris Rea’s Driving Home For Christmas only became a hit in the streaming era. Rhino aims to advance on its No.11 peak in 2018.

“Driving Home For Christmas is a priority for us every year, and we know how well it resonates here in the UK,” said Wheeley.

“Playlist inclusion is crucial, whether it’s DSP-owned or our own brands, but beyond that it’s all about being more creative. That can be anything from artist involvement, to new content such as lyric videos, or working tracks within environments such as TikTok.”

Smart speakers and voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa are accelerating festive streaming. “Our listeners do seem to love festive music on Alexa, and we’ve seen a 90% increase in global Alexa requests for Christmas playlists and stations on Amazon Music compared to this time last year,” said Clifton.

“With the rise of smart speakers, enriched metadata is now more important and we have invested heavily in this area,” said Wolfer.

Under ACR rules, catalogue tracks have to accumulate double the streams to register the same ‘sales’ as a new release. But it’s still possible that a festive favourite will be this year’s Christmas No.1.

“It’s 100% possible for a classic to make No.1,” said Adam Read, Deezer’s UK & Ireland music editor. “Despite ACR being a disadvantage for these older tracks, the continuous growth of streaming audiences in general means the outright number of streams for the big Christmas hitters will rocket up again.”

“Whether they can overcome the ACR rule and take the top spot remains to be seen,” said Wheeley. “But they have all charted a lot earlier this year, which proves that everyone is in need of these perennial favourites more than ever.”
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Bré
post Dec 8 2020, 04:42 PM
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Music Week and the OCC aren't the same thing tongue.gif
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JosephStyles
post Dec 8 2020, 04:44 PM
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QUOTE(Michael Bubré @ Dec 8 2020, 04:42 PM) *
Music Week and the OCC aren't the same thing tongue.gif

Exactly, this is the report of one person's opinion only...
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dan :: G
post Dec 8 2020, 04:53 PM
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I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduced a catalogue chart after this years mess. the industry surely can’t be happy with having little new music in the chart over these old christmas songs that’ll remain popular year after year. I am starting to warm to the idea really if having total christmas domination from the start of december is going to be the norm. at least Mariah will have her number one peak this year.
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post Dec 8 2020, 06:53 PM
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QUOTE(Michael Bubré @ Dec 8 2020, 04:42 PM) *
Music Week and the OCC aren't the same thing tongue.gif


I know? I just think ‘noise’ from the official trade magazine for the charts will ultimately lead to further discussions and/or changes to the charts.
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post Dec 8 2020, 07:28 PM
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Interesting insight!
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post Dec 8 2020, 07:39 PM
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QUOTE
According to head of music Patrick Clifton, festive songs are over-indexing on Amazon Music.

“We’ve already seen a 78% global increase in Christmas and festive-related streams on Amazon Music from last year – and we are also seeing strong global performances for our Amazon Christmas Originals, which is very encouraging,” he said.


Cheeky! Have you really teresa.gif Would the head of music at Amazon Music lie?


This post has been edited by No Sleeep: Dec 8 2020, 07:40 PM
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JulianT
post Dec 8 2020, 07:44 PM
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The chart would be so dull at the moment without Christmas songs though! Positions would be clinging to #1 with ever more miserable sales and there wouldn’t be that much on the way up.

I guess there is a chicken and egg question - is it because the non Christmas market is so sluggish anyway that Christmas songs are doing so well, or is there a lack of non Christmas related competition because people know it isn’t a good time to put out new material?

Either way I say leave the chart as it is.
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post Dec 8 2020, 08:04 PM
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QUOTE(Jingle Jules @ Dec 8 2020, 07:44 PM) *
The chart would be so dull at the moment without Christmas songs though! Positions would be clinging to #1 with ever more miserable sales and there wouldn’t be that much on the way up.

I guess there is a chicken and egg question - is it because the non Christmas market is so sluggish anyway that Christmas songs are doing so well, or is there a lack of non Christmas related competition because people know it isn’t a good time to put out new material?

Either way I say leave the chart as it is.


My thoughts too - I couldn’t think of anything worse than another 2 months of static charts and low #1 sellers whilst Christmas songs were relegated to a holiday chart. The charts are a reflection of what people are buying or listening too and should stay that way.
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post Dec 8 2020, 08:45 PM
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QUOTE(___∆___ @ Dec 8 2020, 08:04 PM) *
My thoughts too - I couldn’t think of anything worse than another 2 months of static charts and low #1 sellers whilst Christmas songs were relegated to a holiday chart. The charts are a reflection of what people are buying or listening too and should stay that way.


The charts are there as a promotional tool for new music, paid for by the music industry. Not to tell us that people are listening to Christmas songs at Christmas.
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post Dec 8 2020, 10:49 PM
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Great new music?

Where is it?

Perhaps people don't find the newly released music all that great and are happy to replace it with Christmas music for the last two months of the year? Christmas songs are already unfairly hit by the ACR rule on the charts and they are still about to rule the TOP 10 and #1 weeks long before Christmas!

The Music Business should just accept that people really like to listen to the Christmas music and adapt to these new listening habits. If you have a great song and you are worried it might get lost in the shuffle during the last two months of the year, keep it under wraps until January. Problem solved. Plan the album releases carefully. Have the Christmas albums and singles out early (at least by the end of October) and non Christmas albums out by the end of November. There is no point in releasing anything new in December.

QUOTE
Do we really want the last two months of the year to be a write-off for anything but old standards when we could also be listening to great new music?
Yes, we do.

QUOTE
Do we really want the last two months of every year to be a write-off for anything but old standards and new versions of those old standards, when we could also be listening to some great new music?

Let us listen to Christmas music as we please, save great new music for January.
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post Dec 9 2020, 05:28 PM
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QUOTE(AcerBen @ Dec 8 2020, 08:45 PM) *
The charts are there as a promotional tool for new music, paid for by the music industry. Not to tell us that people are listening to Christmas songs at Christmas.


The charts are there to show what’s popular? Discrediting streams of tracks or moving them to another chart doesn’t show that.
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post Dec 9 2020, 09:22 PM
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QUOTE(dancemberlexa @ Dec 8 2020, 04:53 PM) *
I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduced a catalogue chart after this years mess. the industry surely can’t be happy with having little new music in the chart over these old christmas songs that’ll remain popular year after year. I am starting to warm to the idea really if having total christmas domination from the start of december is going to be the norm. at least Mariah will have her number one peak this year.


I think that article shows the opposite it shows they are making a lot of money from this still!
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No Sleeep
post Dec 9 2020, 09:41 PM
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QUOTE(Christmasteve201 @ Dec 9 2020, 09:22 PM) *
I think that article shows the opposite it shows they are making a lot of money from this still!


Yeah, I don’t get it. Why does it always have to be new this, new that. If these old songs are still making money and are clearly popular why would you manipulate it to make it look like they’re not?
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post Dec 10 2020, 02:23 PM
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Looked at objectively, from the minute it became clear Mariah was more or less locked on for number one tomorrow, this sort of thinkpiece was always going to rear its head (and probably the wider media at large this next week coming).

It's slightly amusing though because 20 years ago, people used to moan about how the December charts was just full of slushy ballads and/or novelty party hits that were guaranteed sales for that month but which took the proverbial nose dive in January. Now they're wall to wall Christmas oldies until Boxing Day (give or take what date the Christmas chart falls on in a given year).

I do believe they'll probably establish a 'Catalogue Singles Chart' off the back of this now, yes.
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steve201
post Dec 10 2020, 02:51 PM
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Exactly it’s had the effect of a huge amount of artists releasing new material in January over the past few years and making it busier
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post Dec 10 2020, 07:22 PM
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Lol the new music is there, daily, and we will listen to it just like everyone else will choose to. Once again someone is just harping on trying to shoot down Xmas tracks, let them have their glory once a year.
I will continue to listen to my own playlists with a few Xmas tracks thrown in for good measure. If people want new music they will look for it.
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steve201
post Dec 10 2020, 07:44 PM
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Absolutely what i do, have my own on the go playlist and add new Xmas Song amongst them.
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post Dec 10 2020, 09:04 PM
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Another "seasonal" songfest where older songs may re-appear, is during the Football World Cup. They are also affected by ACR vs SCR, which I also like to see how they do chart wise.
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jszmiles
post Dec 11 2020, 12:55 AM
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I am sure there will be no catalog and current chart separation, just because they probably won't be able to fill top 100 with current music during Xmas, I bet

This post has been edited by jszmiles: Dec 11 2020, 12:55 AM
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