Is it really so weird to think about Christmas so early? It isn't even April yet! Interestingly enough, people are thinking about doing Christmas a little earlier than everyone else. It just starts with thinking about what music they're planning to put on this year. Or, for those who thrive on creativity, what music they're planning to write.
Yeah, It's Not So Weird to Write Christmas Songs So Early
So, most of the general public don't listen to Christmas music until early December. Record labels operate a little differently. Most record companies start releasing holiday singles and albums as soon as late October. So, recording artists have to start recording Christmas tunes as early as the summer. Why? So they can release a high quality single or album by Christmas!
It's important to give holiday music just as much time and attention as your other music. Music executives listen to lots of song demo pitches every single day. You don't want to produce something not up to par with the competition. And that’s the reason why songwriters start to write lyrics as soon as the new year kicks off and get their demos fully ready for spring.
Vocals should be excellent. Lyrics should be outstanding. The instrumentals should be at their absolute best. Let's not forget about the actual production quality. A poorly mixed song will get lost in the shuffle—and not the good kind of music shuffle, either. So, it's definitely worth going the extra mile to produce the perfect Christmas demo!
You Know… Quality Christmas Tunes Do Matter
Christmas music is pretty sentimental, huh? Sentimental people can't resist buying Christmas music during the holiday season. For that reason alone, Christmas music sells incredibly well. Don't you think producing a Christmas song would be excellent for exposure?
Imagine… if you put out a quality Christmas song, publishers will want to listen to your other works and sign them. That could lead to consistent royalties throughout the next years. Of course, Christmas music isn't an automatic money maker. Remember when we mentioned to put out quality Christmas music? Yeah, that's right. Quality does matter!
For recording artists, writing and performing a unique take on old favorites works, too. Lots of artists record the same Christmas songs each year. You'll have to do something to stand out from the bunch. A truly unique take on old favorites tend to stick around for years to come. Don't forget to include Christmassy sounds to drive the nostalgic feeling home.
If you're wondering how to get started, you're not alone. So, why not stick around and, well, learn a little about the history of Christmas songs?
Christmas Songs: Past and Present History
Christmas songs essentially began as Christmas carols. Traditional Christmas carols date back to fourth century Rome. Then, Latin hymns by Ambrose, the Archbishop of Milan, were sung in places of worship. In the following centuries, carols gained popularity in countries popular with Protestant churches. Some of the most common carols like 'O Come all ye faithful' took on their modern form during the 18th century.
Christmas carols evolved into modern Christmas songs by the time music became commercialized. Songs like 'Jingle Bells,' 'Jolly Old Saint Nicholas' and 'Up on the House Top' arrived in the 19th century. Once the 20th century rolled along, modern Christmas began to rapidly take shape.
Much of this development happened during the 1930s to 1950s. In 1934, popular songs like 'Winter Wonderland' and 'Santa Claus is Coming to Town' rose to popularity. Gene Autry's 'Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer' and 'Frosty the Snowman' arrived by 1949 and 1950. Various other Christmas themed songs became popular during the next few decades. At least they did, up to the release of Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You.'
On an interesting note, Carey's smash hit song is considered one of the last 'big' Christmas hits. Within the last 25 years, at that.
The Lost Art of Modern Christmas Hits
Mariah Carey's 'All I Want for Christmas is You' pretty much evolved into a Christmas classic. 'Last Christmas' by Wham! is another relatively modern song many have adopted as a Christmas classic. Ever since both songs released during late 20th century, no other modern song has approached their popularity at release.
It's because Christmas music is surprisingly disposable. Don't believe it? Okay… take a moment and think about some of the new Christmas songs you've heard last holiday season. Do you remember any? Most likely you don't.
There just isn't a smash hit waiting to break out during Christmas season nowadays. In fact, most people are pretty content listening to just the classics. So, most consumers stay content with classic Christmas tunes. But the people behind the scenes have been trying to find the right balance between holiday classic and surefire smash hit.
Despite the lack of hits, there's still hope. Modern Christmas hits aren't a lost art. Remember: try producing something good enough to blend with the classics. But don't forget to write and record a song unique enough to keep people listening for years to come.
A Good Time for Christmas Songs?
Sure, it's a little challenging to think about the holiday season during spring whereas last Christmas feels like just yesterday. Getting into the holiday spirit is necessary to creating a Christmas hit, though. And yes, it's a little tricky, but any eager artist can get into the holiday spirit if they're willing to do so.
Once holiday spirit overtakes you, you'll be ready to work. Think about how your song could potentially be different from other songs. Try listening to Christmas music before getting started. You were going to, right? Today's artists usually get inspired by listening to other songs before they begin work. Then they contact the studio with an idea and the drive to produce something good. So, don't shy away from getting a little inspiration!
Don't try to please everyone, either. You won't… trust us! People do love Christmas music. But they're not likely to buy something trying a little too hard to sound like, let's say, Mariah. It's happened before.
Ideally, a good Christmas song combines Christmas nostalgia with the artist's own unique musical style. That's what makes a Christmas song memorable. Such a prospect even makes most songs memorable for listeners. So, have fun writing Christmas lyrics this spring!