By Peter Don, BPR
In many countries this year the number one issue for many is the increasing cost of living… inflation and the increase in the costs of everyday goods, rents and interest rates have added new pressures and strains onto the typical family budget.
Christmas time and other holidays are often a time when families get together. These occasions are also strong drivers of nostalgia – when thoughts and conversations turn to past times, often seen as simpler and better times.
In times of economic pressure, the desire to return to simpler and better times favours oldie-based formats when music reminds listeners of better times and places. This can be seen in increased ratings for Classic Hits in general and Christmas music stations in the US in particular.
There are variations of these formats in other countries too, examples such as Santa Radio in Australia (on DAB) and Christmas FM in Ireland and Magic in the UK
Christmas songs are the staple of many formats and stations around the world. Stations have the choice of a playing little or a lot of Christmas music…
This year, Christmas songs maybe adding a new dimension to programming choice. Not only a seasonal lift, these songs may also provide welcome nostalgia and some relief from everyday living pressures.
Oldie-based stations, AC, Full Service or Soft AC format have an advantage in terms of available songs. Contemporary formats may have a more limited choice. However, recent Christmas music research projects have shown some surprising results with older (and more traditional) songs scoring well among contemporary radio listeners .
What this shows is that Christmas songs represent more than just music style or music age – there is a deeper emotional connection involved here.
While most stations will still play Wham‘s ‘Last Christmas’, and Mariah Carey ‘All I want for Christmas’ The US the list of ‘most Played Christmas songs’ includes many artists whose time on contemporary Radio has long since passed.
The current US list of most played Christmas songs includes:
In some cases, these songs have been re-recorded by contemporary artists but many survive in their original versions – even ‘White Christmas’ is still played in the Southern Hemisphere in the middle of summer….
Christmas Music lists may vary by location. Band Aid’s – “Do they know it’s Christmas”, Chris Rea ‘Drivin home for Christmas’ The Eagles ‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ and now ‘Fairytale of New York’ have become modern-day classics in many countries.
There will continue to be new or updated additions to a number Christmas songs playlists and these may be supplemented by stations that have carried out their own Christmas Music surveys …
This year Christmas songs may have an additional role as Christmas music plays its part in relieving the pressure at the end of a tough year.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all from the BPR team.
When to play?
Christmas music season kicked off in the US (even before Thanksgiving) with major stations including KOST in Los Angeles, LITE FM in New York, WTMX Tampa, WLIT Chicago, among 80 stations across the country already deep into an ‘all Christmas music’ format.
In recent years these stations have also been joined by Magic FM in London and many others around the world in the All Christmas Music group although it seems that the US stations are well ahead of their counterparts in other parts of the world.
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