The Economics of Christmas Songs: When to start playing Jingle Bell Rock?
It happens every year. As you’re walking through a shopping centre, a store, or perhaps a supermarket, you hear a Christmas song, and you know it’s the beginning of the buying frenzy that leads up to Christmas.
Each year, it feels like it comes earlier. You find yourself humming along to ‘Jingle Bells’, or perhaps it’s ‘Feliz Navidad’, maybe even ‘Jingle Bell Rock’. Christmas is usually one of the most important retail periods of the year, and Christmas songs play an important role in boosting sales. Stores start to play Christmas music to remind us that the holiday season approaches, and that it’s time to start buying presents for loved ones. But the timing of when this happens is very, very important.
Radio stations and streamer servers have also realised the potential of Christmas songs, and how crucial the timing is. These songs are a special breed – songs that people cringe at for 11 months of the year, but for a limited amount of time they become the most in-demand songs there are! Judging the right time to start playing holiday music is a careful decision. As this blog post on The Dow of Christmas Music argues, top Christmas songs have a market of millions of radio and streaming listeners, and are a ‘major source of ad and streaming revenue’. Recognising this, starting in the 1990s, a vast number of radio stations begin switching to a constant line-up of Christmas songs.
This year, the first station made the move to Christmas songs on October 24th. It would seem that the trend is becoming earlier each year, and as this post demonstrates, Christmas song season is becoming gradually more and more data driven.
It has also been argued in this blog post on Psychology Today, however, that Christmas music does not increase sales, but rather – it hurts them. So it would appear that (as always) there are arguments on both sides! Many claim that they don’t like Christmas songs – probably mostly economists. A 1993 paper in the American Economic Review on The Deadweight Loss of Christmas would seem to be a testament to a spoiltsport economics approach to Christmas.
But it doesn’t have to be all bad – there are a lot of interesting takes on Christmas songs and the economics of Christmas. For example, this blog post on the INOMICS blog has a useful list of economic approaches to the festive holiday season.
So, if you’re feeling the Christmas spirit and would like a distinctly economics take on Christmas songs, this post and this video are just a couple of examples of the myriad of funny economics Christmas songs and parodies available for the economics enthusiasts among us.
And if you’re having trouble resisting the distractions of Christmas at work or while studying, have a look at our tips on staying motivated during the holiday season!
Photo Credit: Anne-Renee Mauuarin