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Christmas song release dates

November 24, 20215 mins read

Christmas song release dates: a guide to writing and releasing tunes for the festive season 🎅

By editor

Itttt’sssss Chrrissssstmassss! Want to make and release a Christmas hit? Want to know the best Christmas song release dates? Read on! 🎄🎶

Christmas is a time considered especially difficult to release music as an independent artist. If it’s not a Christmas song or album you’re releasing, it’s generally recommended not to release in November or December. However, considering Christmas song release dates will be essential if you are releasing Christmas music.

This article will tackle how to release music in the holiday season. Firstly though, it will outline some pointers for how to make Christmas music…

Chuck some sleigh bells on it: what makes a Christmas song?

You’ll want to do some serious Christmas music bingeing to think about what it takes to make a hit Christmas song. Get yourself in the mood by putting on your Santa hat and playing a huge playlist of Christmas songs.

You have a few different options when it comes to making Christmas music:

  • Covering famous Christmas songs
  • Contacting a publisher or a songwriter to provide a song for you to perform
  • Cover a Christmas song in the public domain
  • Write your own Christmas song

In any instance, you (and your producer) will need to follow some rules to make a song feel “Christmassy” beyond just the lyrics…

And yes, it does include bells. 🛷🔔

Covering Christmas songs

Approaching Christmas music, it might seem obvious to put your own spin on a tried-and-tested hit.

Advantages of this include:

  • The knowledge that the song is good. The song was well-received historically (however, this doesn’t guarantee your version will be)
  • You don’t need to write the song
  • You might quickly gain attention from the original artist’s fans

Disadvantages of covers include:

  • Clearance
    • Many of the writers of the original songs were wise, and now own both their masters and publishing. They’ll be highly unlikely to clear covers.
  • Royalties are paid to the publisher and writer
  • There is listening competition with the original version

Public domain Christmas songs

Christmas songs in the public domain are another choice if you don’t want to write the lyrics/music. You must be really sure they are in the public domain. Otherwise you could end up, at a minimum, having to pull the release, at worst a court case.

Collaboration, Record Labels and Publishing

If you’re a composer who doesn’t write lyrics or sing… Or, if you’re a singer who needs a composer/producer to make a backing track for your Christmas lyrics… You need to find music contacts to work with and make your Christmas hit a reality! 🤶🎶

Alternatively, if you’re in contact with a record label or music publisher you can ask them about their roster. If they have anybody who would be able to help you finish your song, they may connect you. They’ll likely want a piece of the action, but it can often be work it to get your music finished and out there in the world.

If you’re not working with a music publisher, sign up and submit to Vampr Publishing through the app now!

Writing original Christmas music

There are increasing numbers of sad songs being made about Christmas. But generally, Christmas music is going to be lyrically covering topics such as:

  • Goodwill
  • Joy
  • Giving and generosity
  • Hope
  • Family and friends
  • Warmth
  • Winter weather and reflective cosiness
  • Cheeky romance

There are no rules about what you write your original Christmas song about. However, when you open up your DAW ready to write a song, it is worth considering that generally people are looking for an escape. A period of belief in the sentiment that people are generally good, and hopeful happy endings exist.

You’ll want to wrack up on Christmas words to use in your lyrics. As well as the obvious options like Santa, reindeer, snow and decorations, really get into all of the elements of Christmas. From emotions felt during festive events to wrapping up in coats and scarfs.

Yes, get your bells and sleigh-bells out, plus anything else that may sound Christmassy. Shakers that give the effect of snow can work too!

Once it’s done, you’ll definitely want to submit your song to be considered for sync opportunities.

What are the best Christmas song release dates?

If you’re trying to be ahead of the curve, you probably needed to release Christmas last year 😂

Many people in the industry advise that around August is a good time to start preparing for your Christmas release.

The fact is, if you’re trying to release music for around the Christmas period and you try and outpace the market – you’ll probably end up releasing too early. This may leave your potential listeners feeling like it’s not a good time for them to listen to that music.

You want listeners to be discovering and listening to this music at times when they’re relaxed and trying to find Christmas music. You’ll also want your marketing, promotion and presence to coincide with that.

Having said that, if you want to be in the Christmas spirit when you create the music, you’ll want to be writing and recording in season. That means last Christmas really was the best time to start making the music!

How close should you release music to Christmas?

Traditionally, record labels would release Christmas albums in late October/early November. In past times, stores wouldn’t be open close to Christmas. But now, the internet means people will be still active and in “consumption mode” right up to the day, some people even on the day itself.

And it’s not just Christmas music. Labels tend to hone in on the 4th quarter of the year because of the retail spike associated with sales and Christmas gifts.

The major labels are particularly active in this time. This means bigger marketing budgets are being thrown around. It’s a harder time to compete for attention than the rest of the year.

The fact is though, things have changed since the old industry norms. If you have a following that you feel will be actively online on and around Christmas, the lines are now more blurred. If you know your audience will be watching you at this time of year, give it a shot!

With that in mind, staff at music companies still have time off at the holidays.

DSPs ask that releases are submitted within specified time windows in order for your music to reach the store in time.

If you want to release your music by the end of the year, please make sure your Christmas song release dates align with the following:

Christmas song release dates

Planning and scheduling a Christmas music release

It’s usually more about the campaign around the release than purchasing time windows these days.

With that in mind, next year you may want to think about planning and scheduling your release campaign earlier in the year.

A promotion campaign for a release is advised to be at least 6 weeks for a single, and at least 3 months for an album.

Releasing with Vampr distribution allows you to set the date of your release well in advance.

Using tools like Hootsuite, you can also schedule your social media content. This will mean it’s ready to go live and support the campaign without you having to panic and rush everything together near to the release.

Of course, you can also post supportive content around the time. People will want to see you doing festive things, so ensure the vibes of your content really fits with the season!

Wishing your happy holidays and a successful release! 🎄

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