The importance of music in your business
Music is an essential piece of the experience puzzle in the hospitality sector, be it at a hotel, restaurant, bar, pub or spa. Fresh music plays a significant role in shaping a space and creating a mood, which is why many hospitality businesses put a great deal of emphasis on the brand sound and the overall customer and employee experience. It has a very compelling ability to create and change emotions, customers’ behaviours and perceptions. By choosing the right music to be played at the right time, you can boost profits and build your brand identity.
When it comes to music choice, it’s so important for management to ensure that their playlists are constantly fresh and updated with enough tracks in order not to hear the same song again and again. A short playlist that repeats the same songs or artists can lead to negative associations of the business and customer irritability, with a possible decrease in spending as a result.
Indeed it’s very easy for management to play playlists on repeat, or let the staff choose the tracks to bolster the playlists, however this may make or break the ambiance and customer experience which has taken so much time and resource to shape and formalise. With this in mind, there’s an increase in companies who are realising the opportunities of playing the right music, which is not tiresome. Therefore, business owners and managers have the scope to really think about the type of experience they’re trying to emulate as well as the reputation they would like to uphold, both for internal staff and external customers.
“An evolving soundtrack can be an economical way to keep the customer experience current and fresh” – David Wright, Head of Guest Delivery at All Star Lanes.
Quality versus quantity
It is imperative for businesses to get the balance right between having big enough playlists – which are on brand and tailored to the business, venue, and target audience – so that the music remains fresh reducing repeats versus having a huge quantity of music for the sake of ensuring no or very little repetition. The downfall with quantity instead of quantity is that it has the potential to dilute the overall brand sound by playing tracks which don’t necessarily fit your identity. The quality of playlists should not be jeopardised by bulking them up, but rather all the chosen tracks need to compliment the overall experience. Gideon Chain, CEO on Ambie elaborates that “our average customer playlist has between 300-400 songs in each playlist which equates to +-20-22 hours each, as well as has between 5-7 different playlists changing throughout the week depending on varying factors such as trading patterns, ambiance required and the target audiences.”
Curation Drift is becoming more common where tailored playlists are being modified internally, even if it’s gradually done song by song, and they are staring to diminish and thereafter, there isn’t much of the original music and well-thought through songs left. This can likely occur if there are a lot of repeat songs, so the quantity is inflated but value is lost.
Think about it; if you’ve ever been exposed to elevator music for an extended period, you might notice that your agitation level rises quickly. However, if you listen to a song, you like while being on hold, you might find you simply can’t get enough while you are singing away. It’s hard to determine, especially in a hospitality space, which music will be acceptable if repeated, and which music will ruffle some feathers. It’s commonsense that as customer’s agitation increases, rudeness and shortness is more frequent and people are in a greater rush to get out of your venue which impacts on their purchasing behaviours, and more so their desire to return. Therefore, some small tweaks to the quality and freshness of the tracks can yield very favourable outcomes.
A study from Music Works found that 31% of customers said they would return to a business if the music was right. 21% said they would also recommend that business, which is crucial in securing prospective customers, who will ultimately be converted into loyal, retained customers. This explains why over two thirds of business owners claim that music encourages repeat business. Music makes your ideal customers feel welcomed when they enter, understood once inside, and so more likely to return when they leave.
How music impacts moods and behaviours
When you play music in public space such as a hotel’s bar or restaurant, the first thing to remember is you’re not playing for yourself. You’re playing for an audience; a diverse audience who will enjoy different genres and playlists at different times of the day / week. For example, a group of women who come enjoy a brunch together versus a rowdy crowd of young bankers after a long day grafting. The same music will not suffice both, even if the venue is the same. And more so, the same music on repeat has the potential to agitate these customers and make them feel irate, potentially shortening their stay in your establishment, reducing spend and not returning.
Research shows that music can subconsciously affect our moods and influence our behaviours as customers and employees. According to science, tempo, mode, genre, and volume are the four main musical components that impact our desire to stick around and purchase. Music does evoke lots of feelings and has the ability to create strong associations, therefore hospitality spaces aim to choose music which will make its guests feel a certain way. When music makes us feel positive, good, taken care of, engaged, at ease, our spending and sticking around habits increase; however on the flip side, if music irritates us, makes us aggravated or we feel uneasy hearing the same song on repeat, chances are that customers’ behaviours will reflect this.
Music sets the tone, the perception, and creates the atmosphere. Very few elements set the tone quite like the music.
Pros and cons of repeats
Ensuring music is on-brand and updated regularly is a big task, especially if you have multiple areas which require tailored genres for varying customer demographics. However, if you ensure less repeats of the same song, playlists not on rote and fresh music is constantly added, this is ought to continue building your brand and enhancing the overall customer experience. Repeat music and songs has both pros and cons:
- There is a déjà-vu-like sense of orientation and involvement which are tied to prior memories and experiences, which dependent on the association, can be beneficial.
- It can create a sense of nostalgia, for example if you return to a bar that plays 80s music.
- When we recognise a song, we feel a sense of accomplishment for doing so. As we become more accustomed to this pattern, we gain a sense of familiarity – and with familiarity comes comfort, where customers and staff know what to expect.
- Brands devote time, effort and resources into developing a compelling and coherent music identity, then sabotages the process by not refreshing songs, playing songs on rote which loses the uniqueness.
- Repetitive music and songs can aggravate and irritate customers, especially when the songs repeated are not enjoyed by the individual.
- This can compromise on the quality of overall music as repetition may mean that once the music is live, it is not relooked at.
- Repeats does not refresh the brand and keeping it relevant whilst authentic, and segmented to the current trading patterns and audiences.
- There’s a fine line between hearing a song enough to identify with it as opposed to hearing it enough for it to get on your nerves. Repetition can turn familiarity to contempt very quickly.
The Nobel-winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, expanded on this idea when he revealed how one small negative experience can sabotage a whole memory, even if majority of the experience was positive, in his famous TEDtalk below, ‘The Riddle of Experience vs. Memory’. Take a moment to reflect on this; imagine how many positive customer experiences can be crippled by negative feelings, moods and feeling agitated by repetitive music in the same venue.
The impact of repeats on productivity
Both customers and staff drives a business; one cannot exist without the other if a business is to thrive. If there are no customers, organisations would cease to exist. In the same notion, employees and staff actually make a business, as they are the cogs which in fact make the business tick on a daily basis. Organisations need to remember that their employees are in actual fact their first and most important customers, so to speak. The difference between engaged and disengaged staff can make or break the company’s reputation and service levels.
According to WebFX research, 90% of staff perform better when listening to music, and 88% produce more accurate work when listening to music. Listening to music not only boosts efficiency, it can also improve ones mental and emotional well-being. In addition, 65% of business owners agree that music makes its people more productive, and 77% of SME business owners believe that playing music increases employee morale.
It’s been proven, time and again, that playing music within businesses can improve employee performance levels, increase job satisfaction and reduce absenteeism, but repetitive or unsuitable music can also be incredibly frustrating when listening to it day in, day out. It’s worthwhile to remember your staff when it comes to considering the impact of background music in your hotel as it is them who are on shift for 8 hours, especially when it comes to repeats. Music can be one of the simplest elements to fix in order to improve productivity – such as updating playlists so they are not on repeat consistently, ensuring they are on brand and the quality of song choice is not compromised – as it has such a direct impact on morale, mood and performance. Regular change of playlists is of high importance as listening to the same music may irritate even the most quietest of people.
The unique Ambie algorithm and smart shuffle technology keeps client music constantly rotating, creating a fresher experience for staff and customers, without being repetitive.
How to reduce repeats in your business
Music refreshment requires attention and some TLC, but many business owners and managers neglect to prioritise it until they learn what a difference it can make to their bottom line, reputation and customer loyalty. Overall, it’s important to know that a certain degree of repetition can be beneficial to your shop and brand – but It also has the potential to turn customers against you – quickly. Below are some ways to help manage minimising repeats:
- Make sure you have enough music to minimise repetition. A starting point would be to have 300-400 songs per playlist and 5-7 playlists per account throughout the week.
- Automation is one of the most efficient ways to ensure music is not repeated on an ongoing basis. Scheduling lets you tailor the music to fit your business perfectly. Scheduling music playlists can save hours of time trying to update songs and minimise repeats from happening. Ambie offers a very easy Scheduler on its Dashboard where playlists can be scheduled and edited as and when needed and for different times to prevent song duplication.
- Ben Yates, Head of Curation at Ambie, recommends that “playlists should be updated every month with 15-30% new content to each. Track removals are also important, so we take out tracks that have been in the playlist for a long time or are getting stale.”
- Technology is hugely important when it comes to managing repeats. Ambie’s Smart Shuffle feature is used to seamlessly temporarily remove some of the most played tracks in the playlist, before adding them back in at a later date, ensuring that the music is always varied and fresh. This is crucial in order to give the songs some breathing space and keep things sounding fresh for customers and staff on site. “Here at Ambie, we utilise tools to inform us if a site is likely to hear many track repeats across a 48 hour period – for instance if a playlist is scheduled for too long – allowing our curators to tweak the schedule or add more tracks accordingly” – Gideon Chain, CEO at Ambie.
- Adding new seasonal playlists (for calendar events and particular seasons) as well as one-off playlists can keep things sounding fresh, timely and up-to-date.
- Businesses can get their teams involved with initiatives such as monthly staff DJ Days, where they can help pick songs to be added, and make their own playlists for the day (or extended period, as long as its on brand).
Ambie has saved me about 20 hours a month. Now I don’t have to find the music, create playlists and manually change the playlists myself to match different times.
Interested to find out how Ambie can help your business minimise repeat music and create a bespoke solution to help enhance your customer and staff experience? Get in touch.