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.


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.

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