Return to all postsReturn to all resources
Hospitality Music Post-Lockdown: Reopening with the Right Atmosphere

Hospitality Music Post-Lockdown: Reopening with the Right Atmosphere

Written by

James Picken


June 4, 2020



After weeks of turbulence, closures and uncertainty for hospitality businesses, the time has come for many to start planning how they’ll re-open to the public.

Preparing for a situation nobody could foresee means there’s a lot to consider; distancing measures, scrupulous cleaning regimes and punchy promotions to boost customer spend after a time that’s put unimaginable pressure on the industry.

But operators can now begin to see the light, with the impending joy of serving customers again. Pouring those first pints for someone who’s craved that moment for what feels like a lifetime. And for these moments - these first visits from your loyal customers who are finally able to venture out and enjoy a meal with friends - it’s key to make sure your atmosphere is right for their return. After all, a hospitality venue’s atmosphere is one of the biggest motivations for people to visit and now, more than ever, this will be key to encouraging customers back.

Recovering from weeks of closures and having to manage tricky issues such as reduced capacity will make achieving that welcoming, vibrant atmosphere much more difficult for pubs, bars and restaurants. It’s therefore important for operators to use every tool in their arsenal to ensure their reopening is a success, and one thing operators can really tap into is the power of the music they play.

Music is extremely powerful in influencing people’s behaviour and emotions. It can induce pleasure through the release of dopamine, create action tendencies that lead us to move at the pace of the music, and evoke emotions that reflect the ‘feel’ of the song playing. The music played in a hospitality location can therefore have a significant impact on the customer experience and, when used well, brings many benefits for the business.

There have been several studies into how the tempo, volume and genre of music played in a business impacts customers, with powerful findings on how this affects customers dwell-time, spend, and enjoyment of their visit. For example, playing fast music has proven to encourage customers to move and act more quickly, which can speed-up covers. On the contrary, playing slow music can encourage people to take their time - a useful tactic for businesses that want to increase dwell-time and spend.

For hospitality businesses reopening after the COVID-19 lockdown, there are still many opportunities to use music to their advantage. This could be by recreating the buzz of a busy venue that’s now operating at reduced capacity, or filling any unsettling silences with the comfort and familiarity of music. The fact that you are simply playing any music can be used as a sign of stability, signalling to customers that your doors are back open for good and celebrating your resilience.

To achieve a welcoming and encouraging atmosphere upon reopening, here are some simple guidelines you can follow:

  • Think about the mood you want to create and the type of music that will encourage this. The tracks you play will have a big impact on your atmosphere; music that’s easygoing and has a positive feel will be a safe place to start.
  • Spend some time creating/choosing your playlists prior to opening, to ensure they’re suitable and free from any explicit or offensive content. Or better still, speak to your music provider to check they’re all set.
  • Test the music volume to make sure it’s enough to build a buzz without overwhelming customers. Music that’s too loud or invasive can really hamper an experience, and people may be particularly sensitive to this on their first visits out.
  • Similarly, check the levels and quality of your music system. There’s nothing worse than tinny, crackly speakers, dead zones or loud spots. Did you know that poor acoustics can actually make your guests feel agitated and even give them a headache?
  • Keep it consistent. Ensure your sound system is working properly so there are no awkward silences. Avoid letting your team switch the playlists, which can disrupt the atmosphere. Schedule a soundtrack that will fill the whole day, so you can focus on serving customers without having to spend time making changes.

At Startle, our music curation is backed by a scientific approach that uses AI and machine learning, allowing us to understand neuro responses to particular tracks and the sentiment of lyrics. This enables our team to create playlists that are scientifically proven to induce certain emotions and states of mind. For retail and hospitality businesses aiming to create a specific type of environment and encourage desired behaviours, our approach makes music an essential part of the venue’s design. To top it off, our music is encoded at the highest possible quality to ensure the absolute best customer experience for your guests.

If you’d like more advice on how to best use music upon reopening your business, or fancy chatting about Startle’s music for business services, we’d love to hear from you. Get in contact on our website or call us on 0203 397 7676 and we’ll help out as best we can.

Hospitality Music Post-Lockdown: Reopening with the Right Atmosphere

James Picken

Creative Director at Startle. It's my job to produce and execute our music output, making sure everything is sounding, feeling and performing just right for our customers. When I'm not doing this, you can find me either walking my dog, remixing 90s divas on Logic Pro X, returning overdue library books or throwing weights about in the gym.

Say hello on LinkedIn

Hey, we've just met you and this is crazy. But here's our number +44 (0)203 397 7676. So, call us maybe?

  • Number of locations *