PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- We can argue until Christmas that it's too early for holiday music to be on the airwaves, but those complaints are starting to sound eerily like someone yelling at kids to get off his or her lawn.We've been writing about radio's holiday creep since at least 2009 and have noticed one clear pattern in each year's coverage: Each year the songs come earlier and the volume of the complaints against them gets a little softer. At one point, we could rely on the folks at MediaBase to keep track of just how many times radio stations across the country would play a particular holiday song. In 2011, they just stopped doing it. We can't blame them. The Top 10 never really changes and, regardless of where they place, you just know that each year Burl Ives' Holly Jolly Christmas, Brenda Lee's Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree, Mariah Carey's All I Want For Christmas Is You, Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song, Bobby Helms' Jingle Bell Rock, Andy Williams' Most Wonderful Time of the Year and John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Happy Xmas/War Is Over are going to be played 18,000 to 20,000 times on stations across the U.S. between Dec. 1-25 alone. That's more than 30 times per hour, which means a whole lot of overlap for songs of this length. Last year, KYXE-FM 104.9 in Yakima, Wash., started decking the halls on Oct. 10 by launching its "North Pole Radio" on a new FM signal. This year, Syracuse's HOLLY-FM 95.3 and 103.9 went on the air with 24/7 Christmas music on Oct. 5. "I went into Target, actually in August, looking for stuff for my daughter to go away for college and I look over and there's a section of Christmas stuff," station manager Sam Furco told Newhouse Communications Center News. "I thought of the idea if Target ( TGT) can do it, if Wal-Mart ( WMT) can do it, if
4. It's not "radio" you're hearing The local broadcasters aren't the ones pumping Paul McCartney's Wonderful Christmastime into your local California Pizza Kitchen in August. That duty falls to companies such as Los Angeles-based Prescriptive Music -- whose clients include Marriott Hotels ( MAR), The Cheesecake Factory ( CAKE) and a number of hotel, restaurant and retail chains. Chief Executive Allen Klevens explained his company's holiday strategy to Inc. magazine a few years back. "In August, we start at approximately 20% to 25% of holiday music," he said. "Then, as it gets closer to December, we raise it up to 40%. Closer to Christmas, we raise it up to 60%. On Christmas, we're at 100%." There are any number of companies, including Soundreef, MoodMixes and Custom Channels employing similar tactics around this time of year to help retail outlets goose customers into some early holiday spending. We hate to break this to you, but ... Eric R. Spangenberg concluded that combining the aroma of cinnamon, mulled cider or pine with holiday music puts customers in a giving mood. "Our results suggest that wise retailers can act upon this lesson by blessing their customers with synchronized sound systems and scent diffusers, and in turn receive the blessing of strong holiday sales," Spangenberg said. 2. It's not really that early Most all-holiday radio stations hold off on the format change until November at the earliest, with even Sirius-XM ( SIRI) holding off on introducing the first of its seven holiday-themed stations until Nov. 13 last year. Internet radio doesn't have these hangups. Pandora ( P), for example, has nearly two dozen holiday music stations available year-round. In a survey conducted by the music site last year, listeners 35 to 44 made up 94% of Pandora's holiday music channel listeners. Meanwhile, Midwest states were the stations' earliest adopters, making the switch by early November. Spotify, meanwhile, had musicians including Ellie Goulding, Rob Thomas, Mariah Carey, Kelly Clarkson, Lady Antebellum and Fun. cobble together year-round holiday playlists. Not to be outdone, Rdio got Rolling Stone, Complex Media, The AV Club, retailer Free People and musicians Y La Bamba, DeVotchKa, The Hush Sound and No Doubt guitarist Tom Dumont to contribute holiday playlists that are still up. Listeners aren't on a radio station's clock anymore. If someone wants to hear a playlist based on Run DMC's Christmas In Hollis in September because that's when they're knocking out some early holiday shopping, that's happening. 1. Early beginning = abrupt ending The fringe benefit of broadcasting holiday music so early is that once Christmas night is over, so is the all-holiday format. In the earliest days of all-holiday radio, there were broadcasters that kept it going into the day after Christmas or even into January. Those daring stations are far more rare now, knowing full well they've tested the public's patience and worn out holiday music's welcome even a second after Christmas ends. It's little consolation, we know, but it's at least a light at the end of one holly, jolly, months-long tunnel. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.