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Wednesday, November 13, 2013
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When Radio Should Go Christmas

It's no easy question: When should a radio station begin leaning on Christmas music? The answer is not easy, either, due to variables like the surge of retailers beginning earlier each year, the economic climate, and unemployment.

What's plain in the broadcast radio industry is that we hear more radio stations switching to all Christmas formats, earlier. Not so plain is what's happening to online radio when it asks the question, "When should it begin playing Christmas music?"
"These numbers are what make the online version of radio so much different than what the radio industry does over broadcast."

We don't have definitive answers, but perhaps you can draw some conclusions looking at data from Audio Graphics' RadioRow. Each year I place a Christmas Music page there starting around mid-October. It stays listed on the RadioRow home page as a format selection through the completion of the first week in the new year. Because dates fluctuate, I number them as "Week 1," "Week 2," Week 3," etc.

As in many analytics, I look at percentage of use for guidance. In this case, it's the percentage of total visitors to RadioRow going to the Christmas Radio Stations page. This chart shows an upswing consistently beginning around "Week 6," which for the past 4 years has been the 3rd full week in November.

In 2010, 2011, and 2012, of all visitors to RadioRow during Week 6, those going to the Christmas Station page were 0.6%, 0.5%, and 0.6% respectively.

Percentage of RadioRow Vistors Going to the Christmas Stations Page

From that point through Week 12, the first full week in January of the new year, the chart shows a steady weekly increase until a near-total drop off.

But look at 2013's stats and how the increase jumps at Week 3 (always starting with the last week of October). We're only 4 weeks into this season, yet the percentage of persons going to RadioRow's Christmas Stations page is tied with the highest percentage seen (duplicated only by last year's Week 8 and Week 10).

Percentage of RadioRow Vistors Going to the Christmas Stations Page - includes 2013

Online, the audience is seeking out Christmas music much earlier this year.

For definition: RadioRow is a listing of stations defined by format. It's been running since 1999. I use it to assess station-format analytics, try different coding techniques and offer "Intro to Indie Artists" programs. You can use it as a guide to starting your Christmas songs, if desired.

These numbers are what make the online version of radio so much different than what the radio industry does over broadcast. The data is one reason why advertisers are placing more dollars with online advertising - that's radio based, or in any of the other accountable forms like video, banners, and text ads on search engines.

Christmas is still another 7 weeks away. Yet, seeing how the people who are hunting for radio stations at RadioRow are already showing signs of interest, perhaps that's a prompt for an earlier-than-usual move from your station in this direction.

Does the data say you should go "all Christmas music"? No. But it just may be a reason for you to start using a song or two, every now and then.

Though it may just be the result of all the conversations about retailers starting their season early, the Christmas music spirit (online) seems to be getting an extra push this year.

Today's indie artist introduction is to...
Rock Blues artist Fugot
sample song
Woulda Coulda Shoulda

Download Song


We listen for songs that evoke emotion; fast, slow, female, male, group, it doesn't matter. When an artist has the power to please, they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give Fugot's "Woulda Coulda Shoulda" a listen.

Add it to your playlist, free! Such is the new world of music distribution.

It's time internet radio programmers reach into a huge pile of untapped talent.
It is here where new hit songs will increasingly be found.

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