The Best Royalty-Free Christmas Music Playlist

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As a business owner, you know that seasonal music can affect your customers.

They may be more interested in your store, for example, if you play Christmas music after Thanksgiving.

However, other people may be averse to Christmas music because it is too familiar and repetitive. Sometimes, it feels like there are only a few Christmas songs in the world, and you begin to hear them on repeat until after the holidays.

Royalty-free music can be a great help here. There are royalty-free Christmas songs that might be less familiar to your patrons while still putting them in the holiday giving spirit.

What Is Royalty-Free Music?

As you explore options for music for creative projects or to play in your store, you may run across the term royalty-free. This is a type of intellectual property licensing that is not managed by a performing rights organization (PRO), so it is published with a different legal status.

However, the term royalty-free does not mean it is totally financially free. You may not pay royalties to the artist through the license, but you are still likely to pay the artist some money for the work.

Unlike other types of licensing, once you pay for a piece of royalty-free music, you can use it for anything you want for an unlimited amount of time.

Some royalty-free songs do not cost any money but require that you credit the artist.

Others might stipulate that the song was created for a certain setting, like a restaurant or a relaxing video in a spa. While you do not necessarily have to use the music in that setting, knowing whether the song was designed for a specific purpose can help you find great music for your needs and create playlists you can use for a long time.

All About Copyrighted Christmas Music

Copyrighted songs are published under United States intellectual property laws, so you cannot use the song for commercial purposes without paying a fee, called a royalty, to the artist. This process is typically managed by performing rights organizations (PROs) who issue licenses to their catalogs. Larger businesses often work with several PROs to get access to tens of thousands of songs at a time, allowing them to create playlists of the most popular, familiar music to keep their customers happy.

Although many Christmas songs were written decades ago, musicians love to create their own versions, and recording studios often release new albums of classic Christmas tunes. This means that, although a song may be in the public domain, the particular version you want to play may fall under intellectual property laws and require paying for a license.

Smaller business owners, content creators, or artists may not be able to afford licenses with a large PRO, so looking elsewhere for music is important. Some arrangements of Christmas songs are offered with royalty-free licenses, so you only pay once or pay for a low-cost subscription, and you can use these tunes whenever you want.

Where to Find Royalty-Free Christmas Music Playlists

Royalty-free music is available through several services, where you can either pay for and download individual songs, or you can get curated playlists. You may even discover some new music that puts you more in the holiday spirit.

  • Snapmuse: This company offers many royalty-free music options, including instrumentals of familiar, popular Christmas songs that can become perfect background music for any video, streaming content, retail outlet, or dining establishment.
  • Epidemic Sound: A royalty-free music streaming service that creates playlists for several occasions, including Christmas. When you subscribe, you can get unlimited downloads for their songs, including purpose-written Christmas tunes.
  • MixKit: This service offers free stock music, which is a subset of royalty-free music often used for films, corporate videos, games, and online content. MixKit offers a list of Christmas songs for you to choose from that cost little to no money.
  • PixaBay: Another low-cost to free source for royalty-free music, PixaBay offers a long Christmas playlist of songs written specifically for the holiday season without the saccharine familiarity of several other tunes.

When you use one of these services for royalty-free Christmas music, you can apply it to any scenario you want. For example, you can create a short video ad for your restaurant and post it to social media, and then play the same royalty-free Christmas song in the bar area, linking aspects of your brand together. You can create a slideshow to play on screens throughout your business and also post this slideshow on your website with the same song.

Christmas Music in Public Domain: What It Is & How to Get It

Since many Christmas songs originated as carols and hymns, there are dozens of public domain options for great holiday music. Intellectual property like a piece of published music typically enters the public domain about 70 years after the author’s death, which will be music published in a recording or sheet music before 1926, as of January 1, 2022.

Since many original Christmas songs were written in the 19th century and before, you can find sheet music for these songs that is totally free to use, so you can create your own version of the song. Or, you can search for a royalty-free or public domain recording of the song that you can use in your business or for a project.

Here are some of the top Christmas songs that are in the public domain:

  • Angels We Have Heard on High
  • O Holy Night
  • O Come All Ye Faithful
  • O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum)
  • Away in a Manger
  • Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • Silent Night
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • The Snow Lay on the Ground
  • Toyland
  • Up on the Housetop
  • It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
  • Joy to the World
  • What Child Is This?
  • Deck the Halls

With these songs, it is very important that you know the recording you use is either in the public domain, royalty-free, copyright-free, or part of Creative Commons Licensing. Although the sheet music for these songs is in the public domain, these are very popular pieces of music and are frequently rearranged and re-recorded by several artists. These new recordings fall under intellectual property laws and require paying the licensing fee or making a deal directly with the artist.

Getting Christmas Classics Without the Hassle

Often, it is best to assume that a recorded piece of music falls under modern intellectual property law, and you must pay a licensing fee for the song. This means you could end up spending a lot of money with a PRO to get access to only a few Christmas songs you want, or it could be tough to find the PRO that manages the recording.

Instead of worrying about contracts with PROs to get the holiday songs you need, sign up with Cloud Cover Music to get commercially licensed streaming music options, including holiday favorites.


The Difference Between “Copyright Free” and “Royalty Free.” (June 2020). Plagiarism Today.

Does Christmas Music Turn You into the Grinch? (December 2017). CNN.

Top Royalty Free Christmas Music for Videos. Snapmuse.

Christmas. Epidemic Sound.

Free Christmas Stock Kit. MixKit.

Christmas Music Download. PixaBay.

28 Public Domain Christmas Songs and Their Sheet Music. Love to Know.

Homepage. Creative Commons.

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