How Amazon Music became a Christmas No.1 contender with a Sam Ryder exclusive

How Amazon Music became a Christmas No.1 contender with a Sam Ryder exclusive

Could this year’s Christmas No.1 be a song that’s not available on Spotify?

In an era where streaming consumers have become used to having access to virtually all the music ever recorded, it’s remarkable that Sam Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me (East West/Rhino) is only available on one audio streaming service – Amazon Music.

At a time when festive catalogue recordings crowd out new music on the singles chart, Amazon Music has made a consistent impact in recent years with fresh recordings by star names for Christmas. In fact, the streaming service could claim its first ever festive No.1 with the Sam Ryder song, which was co-written with regular collaborator Max Wolfgang.

The race for the Christmas chart-topper is more open than its been for several years following LadBaby’s decision not record a charity single in 2023, in the wake of a record-breaking five consecutive festive No.1s.

Sam Ryder is currently the main contender chasing Wham! for the festive No.1. You’re Christmas To Me has climbed from No.10 to No.2 in the latest Midweeks. Eight of the Top 10 are festive-themed, and 17 of the Top 20.

Ryder performed his single on London’s Southbank at the weekend (pictured), accompanied by the ‘Sam-ta’ Grotto bus for fans to visit. There was also a visit to Spinningfields in Manchester.

If Sam Ryder did make it to the top this week, it would be the first Amazon Original to secure the Christmas No.1. The streaming service has made a chart impact with festive tracks in recent years, including George Ezra’s Come On Home For Christmas (No.8 peak, December 2021), an orchestral version of Firebabe by Stormzy & Debbie (No.5 peak including all versions, December 2022) and Jess Glynne’s This Christmas (No.3 peak, December 2020). Ellie Goulding did take an Amazon Original to No.1 in 2019 with a cover of Joni Mitchell’s River for the festive season, although it achieved its peak in the chart week after Christmas.

Amazon Music has a second Original in the running for this year’s Christmas Top 5 with Jorja Smith’s version of East 17’s Stay Another Day. The cover of a former chart-topper from Christmas 1994 (though not actually a festive-themed song) is at No.10 in the Midweek sales chart, with a consumption increase of 12.7% powering a rise from No.20 last week. 

A third Amazon Original, Anne-Marie’s Christmas Without You, is also competing with catalogue classics for place in the Top 75. It is in the running with a former Amazon Original, Cozy Little Christmas by Katy Perry.

Paul Firth, director, global music industry, Amazon Music, told Music Week: “2023 has been another brilliant year for our Amazon Music Originals, with our three tracks for the festive season really highlighting that. To celebrate Christmas in the UK this year we worked with Sam Ryder, Jorja Smith and Anne-Marie to create three incredible songs that have garnered widespread acclaim and it’s been fantastic to see music fans across the country and around the world tune in to enjoy them.

“Alongside playlisting the Amazon Music Originals across our festive selections both in the UK and internationally, we worked with both Sam Ryder and Jorja Smith to create bespoke music videos, to bring the tracks to life for audiences at home. For Jorja, we worked with the hugely talented Blink Ink studios to create a bespoke animation to accompany the Christmas classic, Stay Another Day. For Sam and his track You’re Christmas To Me, we also created additional opportunities for fans to experience the festive track in person. This past weekend we hosted the Sam-ta Grotto Bus experience on London’s Southbank and in Spinningfields, Manchester, giving people the opportunity to meet Sam and hear the song performed live in person.”

As we head into the final week of the race for the Christmas No.1, I hope that our support has created memorable campaigns for each of the artists we’ve worked with this festive season

Paul Firth

He added: “As we head into the final week of the race for the Official UK Charts Christmas No.1, I continue to be proud of the work that we do to support artists at all stages of their careers, and I hope that our support has created memorable campaigns for each of the artists we’ve worked with this festive season."

Last Christmas (Epic/RCA) is the bookmakers’ favourite thanks in part to a new seven-inch green vinyl edition, which has so far moved 2,522 copies. Consumption overall for the festival perennial is up 21.9% week-on-week to 23,590 chart sales, including 960 downloads and 20,108 sales-equivalent streams. It has been at No.1 for two weeks already and is well placed to hold on at the top.

Sam Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me is at No.2 in the Midweeks with 21,865 chart sales, though it has stronger momentum with consumption up 45% week-on-week. There is a CD single available from Amazon with 1,734 sales so far this week, in addition to 526 downloads and 19,605 sales-equivalent streams. The track features in Amazon Prime Video's original comedy film, Your Christmas Or Mine 2.

When it comes to streams logged as equivalent sales, the contest is even closer between Sam Ryder and Wham!, with just 503 chart sales between them.

However, that’s not the whole story as Sam Ryder – like all the Amazon Original releases of recent years – benefits from a chart rule in favour of new releases, which could play a crucial role at this time of year. 

You’re Christmas To Me by Sam Ryder is subject to the Standard Chart Ratio by the Official Charts Company, which counts 100 premium streams as a single chart ‘sale’ – and will continue to do so until the track experiences three consecutive weeks of decline after its 10th week on the chart (its currently on its sixth chart week).

So far this week, the track has amassed 1,896,587 premium streams on Amazon Music Unlimited, in addition to 351,183 streams on the free tier and 24,461 premium video streams. The only non-Amazon platform where Ryder’s song can be accessed is YouTube.

In contrast, as a catalogue title from the 1980s and a regular chart fixture, Wham!’s Last Christmas is subject to ACR (Accelerated Chart Ratio), which means that it requires 200 premium streams for every chart sale (ie double the amount that Ryder’s Amazon original requires to register a single sale). 

Wham!’s single is being newly promoted with a vinyl edition but it has not been given a manual reset to SCR. Such a reset is a fairly rare occurrence for an older track, which is how Kate Bush was able to claim No.1 last year with Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God). Some catalogue tracks are allowed to reset to SCR automatically under certain chart conditions, although Christmas songs are excluded from that possibility. Wham! and Mariah Carey have both managed to score festive No.1s despite being subject to ACR.

Of course, Wham!’s Last Christmas Is available across all streaming platforms, which gives it a wider potential reach compared to its festive chart rival by Sam Ryder. In terms of popularity based on raw streaming data, Last Christmas is easily outperforming Ryder so far this week with 3,838,916 premium audio streams, 568,616 ad-funded streams (such as free Spotify) and 403,396 premium video streams. 

So, in total, Last Christmas has amassed 4,810,928 streams already this week, compared to the tally of 2,272,231 for Sam Ryder’s You’re Christmas To Me at the same stage. While Ryder has less than half of the audio streaming consumption level of Wham!’s single, he has done all of that that on just one platform, Amazon Music.

Of course, other festival perennials are still in with a chance of grabbing the Christmas No.1, including All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey (a non-mover at No.3 in the Midweeks with 18,415 chart sales – up 5.2% week-on-week) and Fairytale Of New York by The Pogues feat. Kirsty MacColl (also static, at No.5, with 15,021 sales – down 9% week-on-week). 

Former No.1 Merry Christmas by Ed Sheeran & Elton John has the advantage of not being subject to ACR, because it is seeing increasing consumption (up 12.7% week-on-week) and is less than three years old. It has moved 6-4 with sales so far of 16,011.

Stick Season, the non-festive contender by Noah Kahan, has slipped 2-6 (though chart sales are up 11.7% week-on-week to 14,867). 

There could be a genuine festive double if Michael Bublé’s 2011 album Christmas returns to No.1 this Friday. It is currently No.2 behind the Rolling Stones’ Q4 heavy hitter Hackney Diamonds, which is set for a ninth consecutive week in the Top 10. The Stones are pushing for No.1 thanks to the release of a special live edition of the chart-topping album.

PHOTO: Rachel Billings


author twitter FOLLOW Andre Paine

For more stories like this, and to keep up to date with all our market leading news, features and analysis, sign up to receive our daily Morning Briefing newsletter

subscribe link free-trial link

follow us...