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‘Tis the season for Christmas music in July—here’s why

Aug 04, 2015

"Christmas in July," the made-up retail holiday that encourages consumers to splurge during the typically slow summer months, is making a comeback in a big way. Amazon's "Prime Day" was a resounding success—and the company has already announced plans to repeat it next year (an action that will almost certainly prompt Wal-Mart and Target to follow suit).

But the mid-year holiday spirit extends far beyond shopping.

Pandora Radio (p), looking at listening habits of its users, says consumers spend a notable part of their mid-summer days listening to holiday music as well.

Last July 25, Pandora listeners played a cumulative total of 61,360 hours of holiday music—the equivalent of roughly seven years worth in a single day.

top-songs-xmasinjuly

July 25 is the biggest non-seasonal holiday listening day of the year for Pandora—and the listeners seem to come from all over the country, rather than one concentrated area. Pennsylvania listened to the most mid-summer holiday hits last year, followed by Hawaii and Ohio. None of those states, incidentally, were among the top five in December. (Maybe they were burned out by then.)

Holiday purists might balk, but experts say it's not as surprising as it may seem that Christmas carols are in such heavy rotation for some people at this time of year.

"Christmas has such warm memories for so many people and music really affects our emotions," says Dr. Jana Fallin, a professor of music education at Kansas State University. "You know how after you hear a certain piece of music, it takes you back to the senior prom or whatever? That's why people love Christmas music so much. It takes them back."

While Fallin doesn't have any data to back up her theory, she says the marketing push by retailers that ties July with the holiday season (through terms like "more deals than Black Friday" and "Christmas in July") could very likely be part of the reason holiday music sees a surge at this time of year.

"There could very well be [a tie-in]," she says. "People are shopping and clicking on websites and think 'Hey, I want to hear Christmas songs.' There's an association between music and what we're doing."

The surge in mid-year Christmas music listening may be unique to Pandora users, though. Eliot Van Buskirk, data storyteller at Spotify says the number of listeners to the service's top 200 Christmas songs so far this July is 92 percent below what it was in the three weeks leading up to Christmas 2014. (Worthy of note: The holiday 2014 number was more than twice the 2013 total, a significant jump even after user growth is taken into account.)

Still, while the mid-year holiday spirit might be dependent on your streaming music service of choice, in some corners, at least, it's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas.

top-artists-xmasinjuly

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