Holiday music: Why you should stick to the classics

15Dec09

From what I can tell, the holiday music played in stores falls into two categories: classic versions of the songs, and modern re-interpretations of them. In an effort to be more hip and trendy, some stores pummel shoppers with R&B and hip-hop versions of the holiday hits, which strikes me as a huge mistake.

Let’s say there are two types of shoppers: those who prefer the classic songs, and those who prefer the modernized ones. If you play only classic versions, chances are the first group will be happy, and the second group indifferent. But if you go with the overly stylized new versions, I bet the first group will be genuinely annoyed, while the second group will be only slightly happier. What’s the difference? Well, playing the hip-hop version of Silent Night may actually cause people to shop elsewhere, while sticking to the original will rarely drive any group of shoppers away.

The lesson here is simple. When given the opportunity to swap out something that works for everyone with something that will really piss off a significant number of shoppers, don’t do it. In the case of holiday music, I would bet the classics still work the best. Sure, you can mix in some instrumentals or remakes that are true to the original. But try to think twice before you pipe in radically different versions of the songs, since bad music will reduce the amount of time that people spend in your store, and probably shrink their spending as well.



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