A guide to choosing the right music solution for your business

Music is so important for businesses, especially those in hospitality, where it contributes to the overall customer and staff experience. It’s an impactful resource for venues who wish to stand out from their competitors, engage with its guests, uphold its reputation and create a desired mood, which will ultimately increase dwell time.

Music has a very compelling ability to create, shape and change emotions and purchasing behaviours. Therefore, neglecting this necessary element is eliminating a source of huge untapped potential.

It’s therefore evident the need for background music is essential, but the bigger question remains, which is the best route for your business when choosing your music? Is it a DIY solution such as your iPhone or Spotify; or a dedicated music supplier?

This guide explores 10 important things which businesses should consider when thinking of their music. 

1. What’s the main issue I’m experiencing with my music?

First things first, it is important to identify if you’re experiencing any problems with your current music setup if you have one in place, or are you looking to implement something new? The potential power of background music should never be underestimated, and having the right setup in place is half the battle.

Many organisations often keep their eyes on varying solutions – from DIY to a full music curation agency – even when they’re currently satisfied. This is because different features and requirements may become necessary as and when the business evolves.

Questions need to be asked in order to gauge your music status and whether it’s working for your business:

  • Is your music too repetitive, time-consuming and non-scalable? 
  • Do you have the right resources to manage the music set-up, playlist creations, schedules and updates? 
  • Do you want more centralised control versus are you happy for your staff to control the tracks? 
  • Does your music change with varying trading patterns or is the same list on repeat day in and out?

Another  prevalent problem with using a music solution which you’re not fully satisfied with, is that it has the potential risk of diluting your brand identity. If you want your venue to stand out from the saturated market, all your customer touch points need to be considered, from the customer service to decor, to the ambiance created from the music, to the right playlists which compliment each of your trading patterns, the list is endless…

2. How much control and visibility would you like?

This is a key question when contemplating which type of music solution will work best for your individual needs. Management should think about how much control they want in their overall music. Remember, there is no right or wrong…

For some organisations, they’re happy to entrust the control to an outsourced music agency who will curate, schedule and manage all their playlists, no matter how many locations. However, for others, they like to have professional curators build playlists which are on-brand, yet like to have some control in playing a particular playlist to ensure the mood is right, or skip a song if it doesn’t compliment the ambiance at the time. And there are those businesses who prefer to create their own playlists on Spotify and be in complete control of the music from opening to closing.

200 Degrees Coffee shop music

3. How many different areas / zones do you play music in?

The golden question, “do different areas within a space need different playlists and music, or can the same music be played across the board?” It sounds like a simple question, however the solution your business chooses, will create very different results and transactional differences.

If you’re going to only be playing music in one area, with no intention to expand, what you’re after will differ from a hotel who is playing multiple different playlists concurrently in each of their different areas such as the restaurant, bar, lobby, spa and terrace. So, try to think about the type of experience you’re trying to emulate with your music, and does your current setup allow for this?

4. How tailored should your music be?

Different types of customers will visit your business throughout the day / week. And depending on the time of day or the point in the week when they visit, they will be looking for a certain atmosphere and ambiance.

So, the question to ask yourself is whether your current music solution is sufficient for tailoring your music accordingly, or are they just supplying pre-made playlists, which may or may not be on brand?

5. What type of permissions do you want to give your team?

Who in your business would you like to have access to your music? Is it just senior management, or the restaurant manager? Maybe a centralised team in the head-office overseeing all your venues? Or any staff with a love for music who are on the ground with the customers? A key point to consider is that each member of the team will potentially have different tastes when it comes to genre and often this excludes any opportunity for brand consistency, especially when trying to build a specific experience and tone of voice.

For some, the management team likes to be in full control of the music playing at all times. They enjoy having the autonomy to change songs as and when they feel is best. They can change the playlists and genre of music to best suit the clientele, and ultimately it can be done by multiple chosen staff, or the full team, whichever the organisation chooses.

This can either be curated playlists which have been professionally done by a dedicated music curator who ensures all the music compliments the brand and the experience they’re aiming to uphold, alternatively it can be their own created playlists which they create in-house. Whoever is chosen to control the music will require permissions and different levels of accessibility.

6. What resources do you have available to manage your music?

Resources are critical when it comes to managing your music. Take into account how many staff or team members it requires to create, maintain and refresh your playlists, as well as how much time this requires. Not only may Spotify and other DIY solutions seem the more affordable option, they can end up costing more in terms of resource and time.

Additional business resources to contemplate are your infrastructure and how your business plans to play its music. Will you be using Ethernet or WiFi? How strong is your connection? What if you lose signal, how would this impact your music? What type of sound system and speakers do you have? What is the quality like? Is your current music solution geared up for when you expand, or will you need to re-look at the solution again down the line?

7. Do you want a music scheduling function?

Your business attracts different customers, with different expectations throughout the day – and your music should mirror these varying trading patterns. It’s time-consuming and distracting to make music changes on-the-go, or start meddling through your playlists to find the right ambiance.

Automation and scheduling lets you tailor the music to fit your business perfectly. Scheduling playlists can save hours of time trying to update songs and minimise repeats from happening. Some music solutions offer smart schedules for their clients, where their bespoke playlists start and  finish at set times throughout the day and week, maximising the customer experience.

8. How often are you updating your playlists?

It’s really important, whichever solution you choose, to 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. Refreshed playlists are what will help make or break your guest experience. With this in mind, it’s important to factor in that it can be a timely process to create, manage and update playlists on a regular basis, without a dedicated resource.

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.” In addition, Ambie has the Smart Shuffle function, which constantly rotates songs in and out of the playlists, keeping it fresh.

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.

Daniele di Martino, CEO of Rossopomodoro

9. How easy is your system to use?

Before committing to a solution, make sure you understand all the details around delivery, setup, network and audio requirements, maintenance and most importantly, ongoing customer care. Your music solution should be easy to use, and not take much time and effort to set-up. If you’re using Spotify or another DIY solution, is it just a matter of pushing play and letting your music do its thing? Or are you required to manually change playlists in order to change the mood?

If you’re choosing a music provider, check out the provided technology which will be used to play the music. Many providers still work with bulky players that require technical assistance to set up, whereas other solutions may offer a quick plug-and-play solution which is connected to your music schedules, and you’re good to go.

10. How scalable do you need your music solution to be?

Scalability is something which needs to be taken into account when looking at your music solution. Are you a small venue with just one area which requires music? Do you aim to expand within this venue to different spaces? Will you be looking to expand your business to new locations, with multiple zones? If you start with one music account, is there room to expand if need be?

With Spotify Premium, you can only have one device playing music from one account at any particular time. Although, you can use a maximum of three devices if you store tracks for offline playback. This means that if your business plays music in more than three locations you’ll need to pay for multiple accounts. This music solution proves both costly and impractical if business expansion is on the horizon.

Alternatively, if you use a music provider, how scalable is your solution? Are you able to expand and add more locations whilst maintaining your brand identity? How does this impact the cost, and is it more cost efficient than a DIY solution?

Sound good?

There are many great ways to play music – but some may be better tailored to your business environments than others. When evaluating which music solution is right for your business, carefully weigh up the level of curation, control and flexibility that will help your business perform best.

Remember to look at the inclusive costs, and see if there is any small print. Scalability may not seem relevant when looking around, however keep expansion at the back of your mind when delving into your options. Take into account the time factor, from curating and creating playlists, updating them, scheduling them and changing them – is this something you’re able to do in-house or would an external music provider be more effective? 

Ambie is a bespoke music solution, which helps 2,000+ hospitality businesses take control of their background music, creating brand consistency and positive guest experiences which drive sales. Ambie is not a one-size-fits-all product; we’re a unique blend of human expertise and smart technology that delivers a personalised music solution for each of our customers, with zero hassle.

If you’d like to find out more about Ambie and how our service can benefit your business, get in touch with one of our Music Experts.

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