How To Release Holiday Music – Christmas Songs

Some musicians wonder, is there really a demand for original holiday songs, or covers of Christmas classics? How do you release holiday music?

Actually there is a great demand for holiday music. The problem is the demand for Christmas songs occurs really early. So hopefully you are reading this with many months to spare.

Do Christmas songs actually make money?

YES, absolutely. Watch the video or read on with my thoughts for how to release holiday music.

1. Every artist should have a holiday song in their catalog. Watch on and you’ll find out why.

2. Your holiday song doesn’t need to be a Christmas song. It can generally have that Winter holiday feel, it could be Hajnuka, Kwanzaa,  Even other holidays that have a long season like Halloween for October, or Summer Break, or Spring Break.  But the two month duration for the winter holidays gives the song a longer lifespan.

3. There’s so many holiday songs out there, Does the world needmore?
Yes 100%, there is absolutely a big demand. The problem is the pitching and promotion for holiday music occurs early

4. Finish recording early.

Take a look at this graphic.

holiday song lifecycle christmas music chart graph sync advertising tv film instore play
Lifecycle of a Christmas Holiday Song. from recording to pitching to listening

The reason so many Christmas songs fail

The reason so many Christmas songs fail is because they’re rushed into production get them released in time for Christmas and the short promotional Cycle of Holiday music (Nov 1 – to Jan 1)  

The Best Time To Release Christmas Music

November 1st is the best time to release a Christmas song.

For those of you in the USA, you’re probably scratching your head… American’s don’t really want to listen to Christmas music until the very last week in November after the Thanksgiving holiday. But the rest of the world starts listening the day after Halloween. Outside of the USA retailers usually change their overhead music to Christmas music on November 1st, because they don’t have Turkey Day. So around the world, there really is a long lifespan for Christmas songs . You’ve got a full 2 months in November and December.

Movies, TV, YouTube creators, and advertising agencies are looking for a great song now in June, or over the next few months. They work on long timelines – and so should you. And hey if you don’t make the deadline this year, you’ll always have it in your catalog for later.

Here’s a pitch timeline for your holiday song

holiday music pitch timeline graph chart sync movies tv advertising music in store play playlist curators spotify

Finish Recording your Holiday Song Early

The success of your song is a blend of a great song and promotion. 


If you want to know how to release holiday music, well I think most people just think about releasing the song on the music services and getting on playlists, and this early pitching is the answer you’re looking for. But you can’t rely solely on the music services to promote your song. Background music, sync, and Shazam are huge drivers of holiday music.

For retail shops and restaurants, they get their music from in-store play companies. And the curators at these companies need the music from you in early October, That gives them enough time to make their recommendations to their retail clients. So pitch your song in early October so they can playlist it and start using it on November 1.  

And look, if this is sounding like too much, like oh… I thought this was going to be much easier, well, it’s not. But the good news is, holiday songs are “evergreen”. They’re relevant every year, and if you didn’t get it promoted this year, you can try again next year.

Pitch your holiday song early to the music streaming services

I’d say releasing too late is the reason that most holiday songs fail. Spotify, Apple, Amazon, they need your pitch in mid October so that they can program their holiday playlists to kick off on November 1.  Also keep in mind that the algorithm needs some time to fully run its course, and the longer you wait in November or December to release your track, the less chance you have for success.

Now music services will keep adding holiday songs into December, but just try to get it released sooner than later.

The gift that keeps on giving

Christmas songs have a compounding effect. Every year you will have this song in your discography and when the calls go out in October for holiday songs, you’ll have your song ready to go. 

That’s the thing, NEW is not really a factor in great Christmas songs. Typically they’re developed over years and take on a life of their own from the various uses in TV, film, advertising, playlists, and so many other ways.  

If you have a previously released holiday song, this October, email a special request to your distributor asking them to put your song on their holiday music pitch grid.  If you want to learn how to submit your music to in-store media or background music companies, you can learn inside Band Builder Academy.

Cover Songs & Public Domain Holiday Music

If writing your own original song doesn’t suit you, do a cover of a popular holiday song. That requires getting a mechanical license. 


And if you don’t want to go through the licensing process of a cover, you can cover a classic song that is in the public domain – meaning it’s no longer protected by copyright law. Usually – if a song is older than 75 years it falls into the public domain – but it differs by country. 


Also just be careful that the specific version of the song you’re covering is in the public domain. It could be that the original is in the public domain, but a more recent version is not. So don’t cover a cover, if that makes sense.

Generally you can release the song in the same way you would your own original song. And in this case you’re paid both the master recording royalty and a mechanical royalty. I’ll link to a database where you can search to see if a particular song is in the public domain.

Discuss

OK, so ask a question in the comments below about how to release holiday music. Please do not ask legal questions, as I am not a lawyer. But I’m happy to answer your release strategy and promotion related questions.

Comments on How To Release Holiday Music – Christmas Songs

  1. Kelvin Lynch says:

    Sounds very good. However, at what cost to me

    1. admin says:

      Hey Kelvin,
      Not much cost to you. If you are doing an original or “public domain” song, there is no licensing cost, just the same cost as your original music.
      If you are covering a song, you can get going with the mechanical license to release a cover song on streaming and MP3 stores for as little as $35 p/year.
      I have a video about it on my YouTube channel here: How To Release A Cover Song On Spotify and YouTube Legally.
      cheers,
      Todd – Band Builder Academy

  2. Peggy Rop says:

    Hi Kelvin,

    I have written some Christmas songs that we have sang in church both as solo and by groups. We also put them to pictures and have several views on my husbands You tube channel. These are not professionally sung or mixed but we have had them professionally arranged.

    We are just not sure where to go from here. Any help or recommendations would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    Peg and Stan

    1. admin says:

      Hi Peg and Stan,
      This is Todd from Band Builder Academy. If you just recorded these songs for use on YouTube only, then you don’t need to do any licensing. YouTube’s Content ID system processes the licenses for these automatically with the publisher and rights owners. You will usually be allowed to host the videos on your channel, but you cannot monetize them. The publisher will earn the money from any views, and they also retain the right to have your video removed from YouTube (but typically they won’t do that). So just keep your videos up on YouTube, there is nothing to be done.
      Now, if you want to release those songs through streaming services like Apple, Spotify, Amazon, that is different. You need to use a company like EasySongLicensing to obtain a digital downloads mechanical license in order to release the digital music commercially. If the songs are in the “public domain”, meaning the compositions were written more than 100 years ago and the copyrights have expired, then you might not have to license the song. A lot of old Christmas standards are like that. Like “Oh Christmas Tree” for example. Written in 1800. Public Domain.
      I hope that helps.

  3. Jonathan Goldenthal says:

    What a clean and clear synopsis on the question of when to release. I was going to do it differently. I’m thankful for this information. I’m ready to release. Never before did what I’m about to do; Release through streaming services. It sept 20th and I have the professionally done masters of a beautiful Christmas song. I’m the artist , but I’m unknown and just setting up a social media for music purposes, ( Facebook,Instagram, Twitter, etc.) I’m at the stage after reviewing scores of YouTube and article sources to start looking for curators and people at streaming services. But that sounds tricky . Any thoughts? Thank you again

    1. admin says:

      Hey Jonathan, glad the video helped you with the timing of your release. Finding curators can be tricky if you use one of the various scammy services that come up in a Google search for “playlist promotion services”. Most musicians take the path-well-traveled and their song ends up on bad playlists that hurt them. For your holiday song, its pretty specific to holiday music, so I imagine you won’t have a problem placing the track on the wrong playlists. I have lots of thoughts on the subject on this playlist of videos about Spotify – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZEPo4dLFyg-TYyUEJxu9Ax1gkQOwEwEY
      cheers,
      Todd

  4. Mark Powelson says:

    Hi Todd
    Do you have a list of in-store media and background music companies I can submit an original Holiday/Christmas song to? It’s October and I don’t want to miss the timing.

    Thank you
    Mark Powelson

    1. admin says:

      Hey Mark, I see you’ve joined Band Builder Academy 🙌 Thank you.
      There is a list of in-store-media and background music companies inside of Band Builder, and I will email you and link you there.
      Also, please add me to your contacts (todd@bandbuilderacademy.com) as I’ve gotten email bounces from you. I’m not sure you are receiving my emails.
      cheers,
      Todd

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