In a previous incarnation, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra was a bombastic metal band struggling to get on the radio. Now it is the music industry’s most unlikely holiday juggernaut, the group that figured out how to bring rock ’n’ roll to Christmas.
The band’s transformation began 20 years ago with some surprising airplay from a couple of radio programmers. Hard-rock producer Paul O’Neill, with the help of record executive Jason Flom, rebranded the group for the holidays, eventually turning it into one of the top touring acts in the music business. Today, Mr. O’Neill is its impresario and top manager; Mr. Flom’s record label releases the music.
TSO, as it is known, routinely fills large indoor arenas across the country, often with two shows a day (unlike the Rolling Stones, they play matinees). In 2014, TSO generated more ticket revenue than the Zac Brown Band, Mötley Crüe, Elton John and Lady Gaga, according to Pollstar.
The Trans-Siberian Orchestra is a holiday show for modern ears, a kind of metal “Nutcracker” that uses loud electric guitars to restore the power that traditional Christmas music used to have. Part narrated Dickensian tale, part 1970s Pink Floyd concert, the show mixes over-the-top heavy-metal guitar solos, soaring strings and pyrotechnics with the orchestration and operatic singing of Broadway to tell stories, mostly about a family reuniting on Christmas Eve.
How the Trans-Siberian Orchestra Became a Holiday Hit Machine – WSJ