Many retail businesses are wisely choosing to delay the start of the holiday shopping frenzy until after Thanksgiving. In 2019, we saw the likes of Nordstrom, Barnes & Noble, REI, Marshalls, IKEA, and Crate & Barrel all stay closed on Thanksgiving. In 2020, companies like The Home Depot, Best Buy, Target and Walmart have already made the same commitment

But that doesn’t mean consumers don’t want to celebrate the holidays. It simply means they don’t want to overdose on the holidays.

Here are two timing strategies to make sure your customers (and employees!) rejoice at your holiday music, instead of recoiling from it.


1. Your Type of Business Matters

“Are we talking about a retail store, a dentist, or a restaurant?” said John Bradley, Custom Channels co-founder and Chief Music Officer. “Because they will all have different timetables of when they start their Christmas music.”

A retail store wants to start their buying cues, and their Christmas music, a whole lot earlier than other businesses. They need to start it in November, pre-Thanksgiving, because they’re selling something different than the barbershop or the pet supply store or the restaurant. Just because Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving doesn’t mean people don’t start their Christmas shopping before that.

“Certainly, the restaurants don’t need to start those audio cues in early November,” warned Bradley. “For them, Thanksgiving should be Thanksgiving. Let’s not kick Christmas into high gear until after Thanksgiving for restaurants.” 

Bradley cautioned this also holds true for other non-retail businesses like dental offices, grocery stores, hotels and the like.


2. Don’t Start At Full Blast

“I think there’s always the timing issue of not only when you start Christmas music, but how much,” said Bradley. “We talk to our clients a lot about timing and amount.”

It’s not a 100% “off” or “on” scenario. Businesses fare much better to scale up their holiday music as Christmas gets closer.

“Start ramping it up with a few songs an hour,” advised Bradley. “Then turn it up to 50%…then 75%…all the way to full blast in the days before Christmas.”

Not only will this better match with the expectations of customers, but it will also help keep your employees sane through the holidays. After all, if you’re doing the right thing for your customers (musically), you’re likely doing the right thing for your employees at the same time.

More strategy on playing Christmas music

Now that you’ve read our Christmas 101 recommendations, it’s time to read Christmas 201 to find out how businesses can use some proven science to help them achieve the ideal holiday music mix.

Unsure how to legally stream music for customers in your business? Visit our Music Licensing Basics page or give us a call at 303-444-7700.