Apps The Five Best Christmas Music Apps on Apple TV image

Published on December 4th, 2017 | by Brad Gibson

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5 great Christmas music apps on Apple TV for 2017 (minus Pandora)

Looking for Christmas music to deck your halls throughout the month of December? Apple TV has it!

In the last two years, the level of music apps on Apple TV has escalated to levels equal to what you’d find on the rival streaming stick, Roku. Take 18 Christmas-related free and paid music apps, throw in dozens of free radio station apps that focus on yuletide favorites, and you’ve got more holiday music choices to choose from than Santa could ever deliver.

We’ve scoured the picks and narrowed it down to five of our favorites sure to fit the bill this holiday season…

SomaFM is hands down our favorite, plus it’s free. It’s an independent, Internet-only streaming group of radio channels that started out of the San Francisco basement of its founder Rusty Hodge back in 1999. When the holidays come, Hodge and his team go crazy with eclectic Christmas music you won’t find anywhere else. There are four channels…Xmas in Frisko, Christmas Rocks, Jolly ol’ Soul, and Christmas Lounge. Xmas in Frisko is just damn fun to listen to. If you know the majority of the first ten songs you listen to (check out the selections in the screenshot below), consider yourself a Christmas music aficionado. Oh, and there’s no commercials, which is something to be thankful for.

SomaFM screenshotSomaFM is not your normal music app, and that makes it cool.

The Apple TV Music app ($9.99 a month subscription) – a permanent and automatically included app with your Apple TV device – is often overlooked for streaming holiday music, especially if you’re not a subscriber. It’s worth considering just to try out for the free three-months and get Christmas music for nothing. Radio channels and playlists include…

  • Holiday Classics radio
  • Children’s HolidaySing-Along radio
  • Holiday Hits radio
  • Holiday Pop Hits
  • Holiday Cheer
  • The 50 Best Holiday Songs of All Times
  • Today at Apple: Celebrate the Holidays

iHeartRadio has dozens of holiday music stations, but just keep in mind they’ll be a smattering of radio commercials in between Elvis and Bing Crosby. Most are live local stations playing their seasonal playlists, but you’ll also find several iHeart-created stations including iHeartChristmas, iHeartChristmas Classics, North Pole Radio, Christmas Jazz, Club Jam Christmas, iHeartChristmas Country, iHeartChristmas R&B, iHeartChristmas Rock and Sacred Christmas, to name a few. To find these stations, select Live Radio from the menu bar at the top of the screen, scroll down to Music & Entertainment, then scroll right and select Holiday.

Fireplace Christmas Radio is a good name for this free app…it’s got a virtual fireplace video in HD that never burns out with continuous streaming ad-free Christmas music from Santa Radio. A nice feature of this app is the ability to turn the radio on and off as well as the visual snow and crackling fireplace. As the developer put it in their description, “a great fun Christmas app that can also be used for romantic nights.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Christmas Channel app screenshot

The Christmas Channel app from the people at Swiss-Development GmbH in Switzerland really puts a European touch to the holidays. With its animated snow landscape, a live stream of music from christmas-channel.com and a countdown to Christmas, this free app works in the background displaying the current song. It’s a different and excellent holiday app.

And here’s one more as a ‘stocking stuffer’…

Christmas Radio is a free app that thinks outside the box. Run out of London by three guys with 20+ years working in radio, they’ve put a lot of love into this project. It has a built-in virtual fireplace with streaming music and on their iOS app, a snow explode button plus you can write to Santa and get a reply within 24 hours! I’m an adult and even I’m going to write Santa!

Christmas Radio screen imageWe love Christmas Radio as another great holiday alternative.

Pandora…an embarrassing Apple TV app anytime of the year

Not too be too much of a humbug, but we simply can’t recommend the Pandora Apple TV app for Christmas music and actually any music (and we’re not even going to link to it as payback).

You’d think this app would be a no-brainer, but there are two simple reasons why it isn’t…there is no browse button to find suggested holiday music like on the Roku version of this app, and searching by the word ‘Christmas’ comes up with a paltry selection of 13 items even Ebenezer Scrooge would be embarrassed by.

It’s so long in the tooth having not been updated in over 22 months, Pandora & Co should hang their heads in shame to even have it still available. Subscribers listening through the Apple TV version at $5 a month should ask for a holiday refund in their stocking because they’re not getting full functionality by any means. If this is Pandora’s way of getting revenge on Apple iTunes, it’s a poor way to show it. This app needs a major overhaul in its functionality and features and its owners have no excuse for it. In a word…embarrassing.

Got any other good suggestions for Christmas music apps on Apple TV? Leave us a reply below and let us know! We’ll share with everyone else.

So there you have it, five great Christmas music apps for your Apple TV that will fill the house with joy. Put your ugly Christmas sweater on and enjoy!

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



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