This browser does not support the video element.

Christmas Music – What You Can & Can’t Use In Commercials

UPDATED: Nov 2022

There are many great Christmas songs we all know and love....

.... and then there’s Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas’!

At Christmas time, there is no shortage of brands who want to use Christmas music in their commercials. But while Christmas music is great for creating a feeling of nostalgia, magic, and wonder, not every song is in the public domain. These Christmas songs can’t be used without permission. 

Christmas Music That Can (And Can't) Be Used In Advertising

Christmas music that is in the public domain and can be used for commercial purposes & advertising includes:

  • Jingle Bells
  • We Wish You A Merry Christmas
  • Joy To The World
  • The Twelve Days Of Christmas
  • Deck The Halls
  • Angels We Have Heard On High

Music that is under copyright and cannot be used without permission includes:

  • Santa Claus Is Coming To Town
  • Little Drummer Boy
  • All I Want For Christmas (Is My Two Front Teeth)
  • Here Comes Santa Claus
  • It's Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas
  • Jingle Bell Rock

Here is a comprehensive list of Christmas music in the public domain, along with songs still under copyright.

Reworking Known Carols

The 2021 Myer Christmas commercial

Last year, Myer dropped their jingle in favour of a version of Joy To The World with their 'Unriddle Christmas' campaign.
Featuring a variety of Australians in different situations, the commercial takes a traditional Christmas carol (in the public domain) and turns it on its head. Interestingly, Myer still integrated their 'Myer Is My Store' tagline in the form of a melodic sonic trigger at the end of the spot.

At Abe's Audio, we have also re-imagined traditional Christmas carols for clients who have written their own lyrics and want to run Christmas jingles in the lead-up to Christmas. Here are the 2020 (Deck The Halls) and 2021 (Jingle Bells) Christmas radio advertising jingles produced for a Queensland construction company.

Love them or hate them, there's no doubt using a well-known Christmas song leverages the fact that people know the tune and can easily sing along. However, the song must be in the public domain, so you aren't in breach of any copyright.

Copyright Is Not Always Straight-Forward

The public domain is defined as covering 'all creative work to which no exclusive intellectual property rights apply. Those rights may have expired, been forfeited, waived, or be inapplicable.'

For musical work covered by copyright, protection usually lasts for 70 years after the author's death. However, it is not always clear-cut. This blog discusses the specifics of how long copyright protection lasts.

Please contact us if you’d like to use a particular Christmas song in your Christmas marketing, and we can confirm if it’s available for use. We may even have a version of the song in our comprehensive music library that can be used in your project.

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

Similar posts you might like