Facebook Key to UK Christmas Song Battle

A Facebook Page created earlier this month to protest the “monotony” of the United Kingdom’s pop music hold over the country’s Christmas Number One single succeeded this week, beating its top competitor by more than 50,000 downloads, according to the BBC.

Because of the Facebook campaign, Rage Against The Machine’s 17 year-old 1992 hit “Killing in The Name” took the top spot in the annual contest with more than 500,000 downloads, besting the recent winner of “The X-Factor” television show, Joe McElderry, and his single “The Climb.”

The price of each download ranged from £1 to £.29 (about $1.60 to 47¢, USD), according to the group’s Facebook page.

The week-long Facebook campaign began as a way for English couple Jon and Tracy Morter to organize a rebellion against what they declared on December 6 to be “a protest for the X-Factor monotony,” given the last four Christmas hits were all by “X-Factor” winners.

While the success is by all accounts a cultural phenomenon, not an intentional marketing move, perhaps there’s a lesson in here for musicians and labels trying to make a living online through digital sales? That lesson, maybe, is to make music you believe in, not what you think will take you to the top of the charts.

Officially the Facebook campaign kicked off on December 13 and the page, “Rage Against The Machine for Christmas No. 1” grew to more than 500,000 fans.

The Facebook push ended Saturday, but not before raising more than £60,000, or about $96,000 USD for Shelter, a national campaigning charity that works to address homelessness in England.

For their part, Rage Against The Machine was generally supportive of the campaign and said they would donate the royalties to Shelter. On Saturday, guitarist Tom Morello announced on band’s official web site that they would play a free concert to “celebrate the victory of this historic people’s campaign” in 2010 and invite “X-Factor” producer Simon Cowell to be the emcee.

Cowell had previously called the Facebook push “stupid” and “cynical,” but later called the couple to congratulate them on their win.