Holiday music economics: New artists sing old songs

Tracey Samuelson Dec 24, 2014
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Holiday music economics: New artists sing old songs

Tracey Samuelson Dec 24, 2014
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Every year, we get a whole slew of new takes on old Christmas tunes.

For example, “Mary, Did You Know” was originally recorded in 1991 by Michael English, but the Pentatonix released a version of the song this holiday season. And it’s one of the top holiday tracks of the year, garnering over 24 million views on YouTube.

Sure, there are current popular artists who record original holiday songs … Ariana Grande’s “Santa Tell Me” was released on her Christmas EP this year:

But for the most part, artists like Sam Smith are recording and releasing songs that were written decades ago:

Judy Garland first recorded “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in 1944 for the musical “Meet Me in St. Louis”:

Why keep rehashing the same old material? Sure, there’s the holiday spirit, but consumers are willing to spend on new versions of old songs by their favorite artists, says David Bakula of Nielsen Entertainment, which tracks music sales and streams.

Plus there’s demand from stores and radio stations that often play Christmas music 24/7 during the Christmas season.

But Pinky Gonzales, an entertainment and digital media strategist, says Christmas albums don’t sell as well as their full studio, non-holiday counterparts, and new songs rarely get the same airplay year after year like the classics do. Not every holiday song can perform like Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas.”

And maybe that’s for the best.

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