When Should You Start Playing Holiday Music?

That music blaring out of the speakers of the restaurant, retailer, hotel and airplane you visit? Yep, that is the doing of our music supervisors. While you may not notice every song that is played throughout the year, one thing is for sure: when the holiday songs begin, everyone notices. But when is the right time to start playing holiday music?

This is the hot topic among our brands as they try to nail down the perfect timing of their holiday cheer. While there is no one-size fits all approach to holiday music programming, PlayNetwork’s Dean Carlson, Music Supervisor/Procurement Lead, and Julia Cummings our Director of Music Services are here to help you make sense of the pros and cons of starting the holidays early versus waiting until the holiday season is in full swing.

Should you Jingle all the Way into the holiday season—beginning in October? Or wait until December to put your customers into the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?


Dean’s Top 3 Reasons to Jingle All the Way

Get their attention! Why wait? Even in late-October, shoppers are in a pre-planning mind-frame; the weather is changing, holiday travel plans being finalized, and kids begin dropping hints. Before the stress of the holiday sets in, get the attention of your shoppers! The earlier, the better.

Ease their stress. Holidays are typically a time for happiness, family, and celebration—why not make your store feel the same way? Classic holiday songs can invoke the warm fuzzy feelings of the holiday season, and alleviate the stresses of a typical day. In addition to being a reminder of the joy of the season, a classic song triggers memories and nostalgia that can warm the shopper. So, I recommend that you play the hits earlier to get those nostalgic feelings flowing.

The early bird gets the worm. By starting music early, your shopper will feel like the “early bird” winner. Because they are shopping early, they benefit from a fully-stocked store and smaller crowds. Plus—they expect a full-sensory holiday experience from an iconic brand.

BONUS: Keep your sound consistent. Holiday playlists should mirror the branded music soundtrack you would hear year-round. Now is not the time to experiment with sounds. Stick to what you know works.


Julia’s Top 3 Reasons to Ease into The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Patience is a virtue! Be patient: start your holiday music programming on Black Friday. For most, the holiday season starts after Thanksgiving, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Align your music with these indicators of the holiday season, so that by Black Friday, shoppers aren’t already tired of those holiday songs.

Prevent holiday music fatigue. Playing the hits and nostalgic tracks is always a great idea – no matter the market segment. But not when it’s too early. If you start playing those familiar tracks too early, there can be fatigue for your repeat shopper. And you want them coming back, don’t you?

Differentiate your brand. For fashion-forward retailers who want to take a stand and differentiate themselves from the pack, it may be advantageous to start holiday music later in the season.

BONUS: Branch out from your normal sound. I think the holiday playlist is a great opportunity to add some adventure and variety to your in-store sound. It’s OK to play classics in an indie-centric soundscape – it can add personality and flavor. But don’t stray too far! You don’t want your customers to feel like she walked into an alternate universe.


So when should you start playing holiday music in your stores? It really depends on your brand. Our Music Supervisors and Brand Strategists suggest to look to the other aspects of your holiday strategy to determine when their music should begin, so that your advertising, merchandising, and overall space provides a cohesive experience.