Creating a great soundtrack for a shop, restaurant, bar or cafe may seem like a simple task, but there are numerous factors that should be carefully considered.
Whether you realise it or not, the music you play in your business will impact how customers perceive your brand. Ultimately, it can make or break a customer experience.
To guide you in creating the perfect soundtrack for your retail or hospitality business, we’ve outlined 4 key areas for you to consider.
Retail and hospitality brands tend to put a lot of care into developing their brand and its positioning within the market. Why, then, does the brand ‘sound’ so often get neglected? Just like your logo, colour scheme and ‘mission’, your soundtrack should be part of your brand identity and be given the deserved recognition for its role in creating your desired atmosphere and influencing customer behaviour.
As a starting point, consider the words or description you give to sum up your brand, and think about how this would translate to music. If your brand is fun and lively, you’ll want to make sure your music doesn’t contradict this by, for example, playing a soundtrack that heavily consists of ballads or tragic love songs. But if you’re a sophisticated wine bar that’s a popular destination for romantic date nights, some slower, more mellow tracks may work very well.
An important aspect of your brand positioning is your target audience, so these two areas should be considered alongside each other. Music that complements your brand is, to an extent, what your customers would expect to hear. Now balance this with what they want to hear.
Building a soundtrack tailored to your brand will do a great job of strengthening your image in the eyes (and ears) of customers, but it must also create the type of environment that they visit you to enjoy.
For example, Startle Music customer Pizza Pilgrims is one of the most fun and playful restaurant brands we’ve come across. While their soundtrack - built by co-founder, Thom - helps to convey a strong brand through the music, a key factor in the songs chosen is whether they’ll provide the same sense of fun for diners. Speaking of how he goes about this, Thom advised:
"Music is a huge part of what we do at Pizza Pilgrims. It has a massive effect on the vibe in the pizzerias, both for the customers and the team. We literally hand pick every single track on our playlists, whilst also making sure the team do not have to hear the same song more than once every two weeks! We also take suggestions from the teams to add into the mix - it’s great to involve them as it's their pizzeria at the end of the day!"
It’s likely that the various dayparts you operate across change in terms of busyness and the atmosphere you want to create. Therefore, don’t assume that your early morning and evening playlists should be the same. Making a few soundtrack adjustments to enhance each particular time period is a great way to subtly differentiate and optimise them.
Similarly, when creating a music schedule for your business, you may want to consider different days, seasons, special occasions, and even the desired dwell-time for each period. Breaking your trading times up will give a better idea of how your music schedule should be segmented.
To get the ball rolling, try picking three tracks that best represent how you want each daypart or trading pattern to sound. Then, use these as a base from which to build a full music profile with at least 100 tracks. This will ensure you have plenty of variety.
Keeping it fresh
Our last key consideration for creating the perfect soundtrack for your business is how you will maintain and refresh your music. Keeping it varied is crucial for providing both a great customer and employee experience. After all, while music has proven to have various positive effects in the workplace, hearing the same tracks at the same time every day can be very frustrating for staff.
Refreshing your brand soundtrack isn’t just about adding new chart tracks in every week. An hour or so every fortnight should be enough to take a look through your music and remove/add a few songs that fit your desired music profile. We recommend setting a reminder to ensure this task doesn’t get neglected.'
Once you’ve considered these 4 key areas, you’ll be well on the way to achieving your perfect brand soundtrack. To round up, here’s an overview of the points we’ve covered, along with a few extra tips to take away...
Summary: 8 Tips for Creating your Perfect Brand Soundtrack
Ensure your music is aligned with your brand and the kind of messages you want to convey.
Consider if it contributes to the kind of atmosphere your customers visit you to experience.
Review varying trading patterns throughout the week to ensure each is optimised with the best type of music.
Don’t neglect your soundtrack; ensure you refresh it regularly to keep it varied.
Adjust your volume to make sure the levels are right - if customers are struggling to hold a conversation, it’s probably too loud!
Be sure that your business is compliant with the necessary business music licensing by using a service like Startle that is designed for business use.
Check that your chosen system has the features you need to easily manage your music (smartphone control and a skip/block tool are good starting points).
Ask your customers and employees for feedback! After all, the success of your soundtrack comes down to whether it elicits your desired reactions.
Still want to learn more?
Read about Startle’s professional background music system, Startle Music, are how we make it easy to manage your ideal retail or hospitality soundtrack here.