Xmas streamers: All I want for Christmas is another classic hit

Christmas songs have grown in popularity each year, with the record set in 2020 after a tough year of Covid restrictions. This yuletides, streamers are on track to put even more hours in.

Christmas songs have grown in popularity each year, with the record set in 2020 after a tough year of Covid restrictions. This Christmas season, streamers are on track to put even more hours in. 

Hipgnosis Songs (SONG ), the £1.5bn London-listed music royalties fund, analysed the preferences of music streamers on Spotify (OSPT) with data taken from 1 January 2017 to 19 December 2021.

Looking at the figures, JP Morgan Cazenove analyst Chris Brown found that Christmas songs took about a 20% share of the Spotify Global Top 200 in December 2018-2019 but reached 25% in December 2020, recording the highest daily share of 64% on Christmas Day 2020 (57% in 2019).

Total Christmas song streams for December 2020 were up 38% from December 2019, by 6% in December 2019 in comparison to December 2018, and by 83% in December 2018 versus December 2017.

The steady increase of streams each year can be attributed to Spotify’s growing subscription base and the increased time subscribers spend listening to music on the app.

Christmas songs can produce ‘repeatable and respectable earnings’, said Hipgnosis founder Merck Mercuriadis and former manager of Beyoncé, who believes streaming brings in a reliable source of income from songs that have ‘proven’ they are hits.

Recognising the bankability of catchy seasonal songs, the 4.31% yielder has purchased a hefty catalogue of top-performing Christmas songs, including Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’, which was streamed 762  million times over the sample period, and Ariana Grande’s ‘Santa Tell Me’, the third most-played Christmas song on Spotify, which boasts 614 million streams.

The group also has exposure to five songs from Michael Bublé’s ‘Christmas’ album, which have combined streams of over 584 million, 2000 Miles by The Pretenders (74 million) and Christmas albums by Barry Manilow and Kenny G.

Rivals, Round Hill Music (RHM ), holds shares in several major Christmas hits. The $350m (£262m) trust owns a stake in Bobby Helms’s ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ (3.7 millionglobal streams on 21 December), Eartha Kitt’s ‘Santa Baby’ (916,000) and Darlene Lowe’s ‘Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)’ (1.3 million).

UK most-streamed songs on 21 December

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Position Track Name Artist Streams
1 Last Christmas Wham! 628,722
2 All I Want for Christmas Is You Mariah Carey 595,862
3 Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Brenda Lee 490,846
4 Fairytale of New York (feat. Kirsty MacColl) The Pogues 439,190
5 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas Michael Bublé 438,055
6 Merry Christmas Everyone Shakin’ Stevens 436,508
7 Driving Home for Christmas - 2019 Remaster Chris Rea 428,341
8 Step Into Christmas Elton John 417,405
9 Jingle Bell Rock Bobby Helms 391,775
10 Merry Christmas Ed Sheeran 384,299

Source: Spotify

Brown notes that covers of classics tend to chart each year too. Michael Bublé’s cover of Carey’s Christmas tune has notched up 142 million streams, demonstrating how lucrative a hit song is, with Carey and Hipgnosis both earning a share in the royalties. 

Carey’s hit is the most-streamed Christmas song of all time (1.07 billion) and the only one in the study’s 190 Christmas songs that has over one billion streams on Spotify. Hipgnosis bought a share in the song in 2020.

However, listeners have streamed the song fewer times this year. Over the first 19 days of December this year the song was streamed 86.8 million times. For the equivalent period in 2020 it was streamed 90.4 million times.

The track currently features on a McDonald’s campaign advertising the new ‘Mariah menu’. Perhaps listeners feel they have over-indulged.

US versus UK

Interestingly, there seems to be some domestic bias. Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’, which neither Hipgmosis nor Round Hill Music own, holds the most-streamed position on both the UK’s weekly and daily Spotify  charts, pipping Carey to the top spot.

In the US, Carey sits at No.3 on the daily chart, with Wham!’s effort a distant seventh. 

The UK Top 10 is saturated with Christmas songs and includes British artists who do not appear on the US equivalent: The Pogues, Chris Rea and Ed Sheeran. 

US most-streamed songs on 21 December

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Position Track Name Artist Streams
1 Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Brenda Lee 1,470,008
2 Jingle Bell Rock Bobby Helms 1,288,121
3 All I Want for Christmas Is You Mariah Carey 1,254,160
4 It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year Andy Williams 1,112,338
5 Broadway Girls (feat. Morgan Wallen) Lil Durk 991,642
6 A Holly Jolly Christmas - Single Version Burl Ives 971,171
7 Last Christmas Wham! 943,785
8 It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas Michael Bublé 909,633
9 INDUSTRY BABY (feat. Jack Harlow) Lil Nas X 860,548
10 White Christmas Bing Crosby 837,878

Source: Spotify

 

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