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Nielsen Says Albums Sell Well During the Holidays

Firm finds 34 versions of “Winter Wonderland” played

Nielsen took a close look at holiday music airplay and sales and found some interesting insights. Last week, we told you Nielsen found holiday music listening does well during middays and evenings.

Music sales also do very well during the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.

After taking a closer look at airplay from the top 10 adult contemporary stations in 2012, the audience research firm found that stations played 34 different versions of “Winter Wonderland” throughout the season. However, the Eurythmics’ version was the most played, at just under 600 spins.

The holidays are also big for albums. Twelve million holiday genre albums sold in the U.S. in 2012, accounting for 3.8% of the year’s music sales.

These numbers, however, were at five-year lows, representing 15% and 10% drops, respectively, from 2011, when 13.9 million holiday albums were purchased, accounting for 4.2% of full-year sales, according to Nielsen.

There weren’t as many major “must-have” new holiday titles last year as there have been in the past, which played a part in last year’s dip. Of the 12 million albums sold, only about one-third (4.3 million) were new releases less than 18 months old. Rod Stewart’s top-selling “Merry Christmas Baby” fell into this category and sold 858,000 albums. This figure pales in comparison to the leading albums in prior years, such as Michael Buble’s “Christmas”in 2011, which sold 2.5 million, and Josh Groban’s “Noel” in 2007, which sold 3.7 million.