Matt Bailey takes a look at pop music listening habits during the holiday season when it would seem by looking at Nielsen PPM ratings that most everyone is listening to stations that play all Christmas music.
Bailey, the former President of Integr8 Research poses the question, “Do people listen less to the hits during the holidays?” for his latest entry on the recently launched Graphs About Songs website and newsletter.
While interest in non-holiday music dips by 7% to 12% during the week of Christmas, “by and large, however, consumption of the biggest non-holiday hits remains largely unaffected by the surge of Christmas music consumption,” Bailey writes. Some hits see no negative impact at all during December.
Worth noting is that these findings are based on Spotify data from November 2023 through January 2024, and not comparing listening to all-Christmas music stations to pop-oriented radio stations during the December and Holiday Nielsen PPM monthlies.
Radio listeners attracted to holiday hits are not unlike those who stream music. According to Spotify, in the week after Thanksgiving, 25% of streams of the top 200 songs are holiday songs. By Christmas week, half of the top streamed songs are holiday-related.
To compare the appeal of listening to holiday music vs. listening to popular music, Bailey looks at data from the 10 most streamed songs on Spotify in the U.S. the week before Thanksgiving through Jan. 24 for the study.
The result: some songs “have a clearly defined—albeit small—drop in consumption during the three weeks leading up to Christmas,” he writes. Others decline slightly or are completely unaffected.
“It’s hard to draw conclusions with only a few examples, but songs that are more mass-appeal or that appeal to an older audience may be more susceptible to a minor decline in plays during December, while songs that have appeal to younger listeners might see no decline at all,” Bailey says.
Although the record label industry pretty much shuts down and doesn’t actively release or promote new releases for the final weeks of the year, Bailey believes “December is still a perfectly reasonable time to debut new music.”