The DOs and DON’Ts of Retail Music

Picture the perfect store environment. It probably has top-notch products, excellent customer service, and an appealing aesthetic design. Now imagine that same environment with no music. It would feel wrong, like something was missing, and customers would notice. Music is just as big a part of a retail store’s atmosphere as visual designs are, and as such, it should be given careful consideration. Here are some dos and don’ts of playing music in your business:

DON’T play music that’s licensed for personal use only. This includes most personal subscriptions with Spotify or Pandora, YouTube videos, and any music that hasn’t been legally licensed for use in businesses. 

DO subscribe to a music provider that offers legally-licensed music for retail. 

Music played in retail stores is considered a public performance and requires proper licensing. To be licensed, the music providers pay performance rights organizations—such as ASCAP or BMI—for permission to play music in public places. Customers can then subscribe to these music providers to have access to music that has been licensed for public performances. If the music isn’t licensed, the business playing it will be breaking copyright laws. According to the National Federation of Independent Business,  “…[a] member [had] been threatened with a lawsuit and exorbitant penalties after a music-licensing organization found that she’d been playing music at her business without a license.” While there are penalties for breaking music copyright, a music service like SoundMachine will help you avoid these fines by providing business streaming accounts with music that is legal to play in retail stores.

DON’T be thoughtless in your music selections.

DO make your music selections based on what fits best with your store’s brand.  

Studies, such as one done by Routledge, have shown that “[the] shoppers’ liking of the music in the natural retail setting and the perceived [fit of the] music with the store image positively affect the length of shopping time, which in turn, indirectly influences customer expenditure.” It’s important to maintain the same type of music that meshes well with your store’s aesthetic. Rapid changes in music style or a mismatch between the store environment and music—such as playing metal in an antiques shop or opera music in a motorcycle store—could be disorienting. Luckily, SoundMachine has hundreds of stations and music playlists specifically curated for retail stores in order to help establish your brand’s desired sound. Even with all that, there’s still more to customize, as you can combine stations into your own custom mix and control the weight of each station within that mix. A heavier weight means that those particular stations have a higher probability of being played. With these features, you’ll have more control over the variation of your music, all while maintaining consistency within your brand. If you’re still having difficulty finding the right music, a dedicated music specialist at SoundMachine will be happy to give you personalized help to get what you need. 

DON’T assume that all music has the same effect.

DO consider how different music affects store customers. Use that to your advantage by making retail store playlists for different circumstances.

For example, tempo has a big impact on customers. Slow music encourages customers to shop at a more relaxed pace, spending more time in the store and spending more money, while fast music encourages them to shop more efficiently and spend less time in the store. Both tempos can be beneficial in different circumstances. Fast music is excellent for busier hours where it’s necessary to accommodate more people quicker, and slow music is excellent for when there are fewer customers making larger purchases. It’s up to you to know your business’s needs and make music playlists accordingly. A study published by the Association for Consumer Research sums it up best: “Understanding of the effects of music is particularly useful to service managers, as this element of the environment is relatively inexpensive and easy to control.”

DON’T use low-quality speakers.

DO invest in a high-quality retail store music system to best play your music. 

The speakers will determine the quality of your music more than anything else. If you have an amazing music selection but bad speakers, that will paint your brand as low quality. With high-quality speakers, your music will sound pristine and you will have better control of the volume of your music. Like tempo, volume has a big impact on customers. A study by the University of Technology in Sydney found that  louder music excites, while softer music calms, therefore impacting the amount of time customers spend inside stores. As such, investing in a good sound system that allows you to take advantage of differences in volume is extremely valuable.

DON’T think of music as a low priority, like last-minute sprinkles thrown on top.

DO realize that streaming music for your business is a powerful tool to market and sell products within your retail stores. 

You’ve already done the hardest part. You’ve set up your business, found a location, purchased inventory, hired employees, and more. After doing all that work, don’t make the mistake of overlooking the influence of music on your customers. Instead, follow this list of dos and don’ts and you’ll be well on your way to harnessing the full power of music in retail.

Let SoundMachine help you to create the music experience in your retail store. You can check out our plans and features HERE.