Have you ever become burnt out on holiday music? If you are like me, this usually happens weeks before the holiday season is even upon us. It seems that every store, commercial, and billboard lunges at the first opportunity they can to begin pumping holiday “spirit” into our busy lives. With holiday housing blitzes like this, chances are your customers are probably getting tired of “The Holiday Season” before it even begins.

How to effectively manage in-store music this holiday season
It is in your best interest to learn how to effectively manage your holiday music without smothering your customers with it while still trying to avoid being the Scrooge of the community.


Timing is everything: When should you start your music?

You do not want to begin the process too early or too late. A good rule of thumb is to begin slowly fusing in the music about the time that your company starts their holiday campaigns. If you are a stand-alone business without an umbrella corporation to give you the queue, this should be about mid to late November.


The sounds of the season: How much is too much?

Start out with approximately 5-10% of your music playlist made up of holiday music while leaving the other mix to what best suits your demographic. As the weeks begin to fly off the calendar, begin to increase the music. It would be beneficial to increase your holiday music output by 10-20% every week until Christmas rolls around. It is up to you, however, to decide what percentage you would like your holiday, in-store music to reach its peak; you can continue to mix it into your year-round musical selection, or you can choose to saturate your playlists with holiday cheer. I would recommend anywhere from 60-70% holiday mix. This is a good level as to not seem unenthusiastic but still have enough of the other music to give your listeners a little reprieve.


Making your list and checking it twice: What should you play?

Once you have your planned schedule of how much you want to increase by and where you want to stop, next you will need to decide what kind of mix you should create. With holiday music dating back to…. well, the holidays themselves, this has given a lot of time for artists to put their own twists on classics as well as create some new and original pieces. I recommend using 10-15% traditional holiday classics. You see, we all know the songs and appreciate a good Bing Crosby tune every once in a while; these songs give us all a sense of nostalgia and bring us back to a simpler time in our lives. However, as we all live and grow, we evolve and change with the times. The same has happened with music, and this should reflect in your store. As spins off go, there are a lot of good choices for you to choose from out there. It will ultimately come down to the genre of music your demographic wants to hear. If you are still unsure, I would recommend a nice mix of classic rock (perhaps 25%), including Elvis, The Beatles, and Bruce Springsteen among others and the same percentage of new age artists such as Lady Antebellum, Owl City, and Cee Lo Green. The more variety, the more people who can connect with your store and its atmosphere.


Mixing your playlist: What should you play when you aren’t playing holiday music?

The last thing to address is what to do with what you are left with when holiday music is not playing. The human brain relies heavily on patterns. When the brain doesn’t see a pattern, or it is unrecognizable, it tends to expect chaos or disorder. With that said, it is a good idea to keep the non-holiday music at about the same level of energy as the holiday music. If you have advanced music manipulation software, you can look at the bpm (beats per minute) songs that you have playing to temper them to the level you need. But if you are like most of us and you do not moonlight as a DJ on the weekends, then you will need another method of choosing your non-holiday songs. Because it isn’t crucial to get the bpm exact, you can simply choose genres that allow you to get] in the ballpark. Genres such as alternative rock, classic rock, and R&B will give you a good start; heavy rock or rap will most likely clash with your holiday playlist and cause uneasiness in your clientele. I personally recommend, if you do not have a service already, to find an in-store music provider that is willing to create your mix for you. If you go this route, be sure to find one that gives you service from a local (in-store) server instead of a massive, off-site server. This tends to lend to better reliability and nimble music choices.