Twas the month before Christmas and the song “Sleigh Ride” had already been played on the radio 43,168 times. This according to a survey the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers released on Wednesday.
ASCAP, which tracks radio airplay across the country, found that the 1948 song by Leroy Anderson was the top-played holiday track between the beginning of October and the end of November. The Eurythmics’ version of “Winter Wonderland” wasn’t too far behind, with 38,415 plays across the country.
But are listeners really that eager to get in the holiday spirit, or is it just part of what is known as “the Christmas creep,” that incentive to get people thinking about the holidays as soon as possible so they’ll spend more money earlier?
Perhaps it’s a bit of both, says ASCAP’s Executive Vice President Phil Crosland.
“As a fundamental principle: If it doesn’t generate ad revenue, it’s not going to be performed on the radio,” he says. “But if the listeners were not there and appreciative of early holiday music, [the radio stations] would wait.”
Crosland says he’s also found that this year, more stations are rocking around the Christmas tree around the clock.
“I was totally amazed,” he says. “Before Thanksgiving, there were over 150 stations across the country that were 24/7 holiday music. We know that the 24/7 holiday stations are increasing at about 10 to 15 percent.”
‘All I Want For Christmas’ is a new classic
In a separate study also released this week, Mariah Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You” topped the Billboard charts of most popular seasonal songs. Crosland says it’s unique for such a new holiday song to be so popular.
“The classic songs that you grew up with are the ones that evoke the strongest, favorable memories for you as you hear them,” he says. “With the newer songs, it’s a tremendous hurdle to try to overcome to get on a list like this.”