Make a List

Christmas image

You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I’m telling you why:
Santa Claus is coming to town!

So begins that timeless Christmas classic written by John Frederick Coots and Haven Gillespie in the 1930s.   It became an instant hit with orders for 500,000 copies of sheet music and more than 30,000 records sold within 24 hours.  The song has been covered by over 200 artists, including The Crystals, Mariah Carey, and Bruce Springsteen. The song goes on to talk about Santa making a list to see who is naughty and nice.  Which brings us on to the idea of recording a Christmas CD.

Where to begin?

The first thing is to decide you actually want to record a Christmas Album.     There are advantages and disadvantages of doing so. The main advantage of recording a Christmas Album or CD is that most choirs or schools will have a number of events at Christmas which will present great opportunities to sell their album to the public.   On the downside most sales for a Christmas album will come at Christmas time and sales may not be quite so high in mid June.

Why should your School or Choir record a Christmas Album?

The Christmas term is generally the longest of the year, assuming that schools still operate a three term year.    It is also, on the whole, the furthest point from when pupils are involved in exams.  Whether you are a Primary School or a Sixth form College, there is usually a lot going on in the Michaelmas term and towards the end of term there will be a whole host of Christmas themed events or parties.  We’ve said above that Christmas fayre’s and other similar events are a great opportunity to sell your school Christmas Album.  But all too soon Christmas is over and the chance to sing some of the finest choral repertoire is gone for another year.

When should you record your album?

If you are a school then the most popular time to record your Christmas album is usually in October or November.  This gives us just enough time to produce the albums ready for sale before the end of term.  Your school Christmas album will make a great Christmas present for Granny as well as being a memento you can keep for years to come.

Some choirs will often defer recording their Christmas album until January.  Whilst, this may at first sight seem an odd notion, bear with me on this one.    Choirs often take a break in August and are usually incredibly busy with Christmas concerts from about mid November onwards.  So when they return at the beginning of September they have but a few weeks to learn or refresh their Christmas repertoire in time for the concerts.

It therefore makes a lot of sense to delay the recording of your album until January.  At this point the Christmas repertoire is probably still fresh in your singers minds. It’s also a good thing to focus the choir on at the start of a new year.  Yes of course people want to move on from Christmas songs but just for a couple of weeks in January this presents a great opportunity.

Moreover, once you have recorded your Christmas repertoire, then assuming you learn some new songs the following Christmas, your CD will not just be a repeat of the concert you have just given.  And, albeit you have waited 11 months to sell your CD  this further increases the chances of selling lots of copies at Christmas concerts and events.

What to include on the album?

One of the most common questions we are asked is how many songs should / can we record?  There are two answers to this question.  If you are recording a CD then you should bear in mind the physical limit of a Disc is 80 minutes.  Realistically we would suggest not including more than about an hour of music.  In fact most albums are usually somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour in length. This will usually be made up of 10 -15 songs.

Then you need to think about the recording session.  Most choirs recording lets say 12 songs will do so over a weekend.   It may sound a lot of time but to give your choir the best chance then you should allow around 45 minutes per song.    We will discuss this in greater detail in a later post.

So on the basis that your album is likely to consist of between 10 – 15 songs then it is worth deciding on a theme or at least link between the tracks – aside of the fact they are all Christmas songs!  Some choirs choose to record songs from a particular period – or even just the music of an individual composer.   Ultimately there are no rules. If you just want to record an album of everyone’s favourite Christmas song, that’s absolutely fine.

For the majority of schools and amateur choirs the audience will be buying the album because they want to hear your singing.  The choice of music is still important but the album is mostly about your group!

Choosing a Recording Company

Whatever you decide, 4 Part Music would be delighted to help you record your Christmas Album.  Whether it’s your first foray into the world of making recordings or something you have done annually for the past decade we believe our skills and experience will help make it an easy and seamless process.  We have been recording choirs and schools on location since 2004 and during that time have recorded hundreds of albums in a wide variety of venues all over the UK.

If you would like to talk to us about recording an album at Christmas, or indeed any other time, please call us on 01225 302143. Alternatively you can click here to email us



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