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How to balance centralising music in your business whilst still having some staff input

There’s an ongoing debate within businesses, especially in the hospitality industry, as to which option is more effective: firstly, centralising all music control to the head office or a specific team (usually Operations or Marketing) who’ll be responsible for overseeing the music cross-locations, or secondly, whether giving your staff the control to change, add, remove songs is more effective, or is the answer a combination of the two? 

The truth is, there’s no right or wrong! It is a very individualised decision and one which doesn’t need to be set in stone as having control parameters with flexibility allows for some leeway as and when necessary. 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.

Music is a direct and cost-effective way of establishing mood and building rapport with your target market. The right soundtrack can ‘speak the language’ of your customer base; resonating with their values, tastes and aspirations.

Localised control of music

For some businesses and venues, the management team like 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.

This allows the selected music to change with the times, and often with subjectivity. Each member of the team will 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.  In addition, this route of music control does require resources in terms of team members and time, which can prove costly and distracting from one’s specified role. 

The concept of Curation Drift is becoming more and more common when staff are able to modify the music on their own accord, even if it’s done song by song. This occurs when a business has playlists of music which are tailored to the brand, its trading patterns and reputation, yet over time, the lists get modified so frequently, that the initial tailored professionalism starts to diminish and thereafter, there isn’t much of the original branded music and well-thought through songs left.

This flexibility and carte blanch most certainly does work, especially for smaller businesses. However, this incumbency and responsibility needs to be factored in from the get-go, so there is relevant music played all the time, and it is not winged off the cusp, so to speak. If a dedicated music aficionado or enthusiast takes control and manages the music selection holistically, then a localised approach can be effective.

All Star Lanes Brick Lane
The plush interior at All Star Lanes, Brick Lane. © Giles Christopher

Centralised control of music

In order for there to be consistent music which is on-brand and speaks the language of the business, no matter if it’s one venue or 100, a centralised music service agency will automatically manage and schedule all curated music and playlists in order to ensure the experience and ambiance is always on target. For example, imagine walking into a chain of Brazilian restaurants, where there’s loud hip-hop blearing in one location, and in another there’re timeless classics playing, meanwhile customers should be dancing doing the Samba! 

Music curators are, in essence, music gurus, understanding and constantly being in the know with all things music: genres, what’s new, what’s classic, what’s regional and so on. When curators design tailored playlists based on client briefings, the selected music will be carefully  chosen contributing to the business goals of customer retention, motivation, engagement and ultimately a revenue generator. 

If you go the route where you hire a music agency for centralisation, they will act as an extension of your team, selecting, managing and evolving your music over time. The curation team will design and schedule playlists tailored to achieve your goals, whilst smart technology ensures the sound remains fresh, relevant and up-to-date. If you opt for Head Office control, a dedicated dashboard will enable you to monitor and manage the music across all your spaces. If you opt for On-Site control, selected managers get the control and flexibility needed to reflect their unique environment, whilst protecting your brand. 

Ambie at the Andaz

Centralised control of music

In order for there to be consistent music which is on-brand and speaks the language of the business, no matter if it’s one venue or 100, a centralised music service agency will automatically manage and schedule all curated music and playlists in order to ensure the experience and ambiance is always on target. For example, imagine walking into a chain of Brazilian restaurants, where there’s loud hip-hop blearing in one location, and in another there’re timeless classics playing, meanwhile customers should be dancing doing the Samba! 

Music curators are, in essence, music gurus, understanding and constantly being in the know with all things music: genres, what’s new, what’s classic, what’s regional and so on. When curators design tailored playlists based on client briefings, the selected music will be carefully  chosen contributing to the business goals of customer retention, motivation, engagement and ultimately a revenue generator. 

If you go the route where you hire a music agency for centralisation, they will act as an extension of your team, selecting, managing and evolving your music over time. The curation team will design and schedule playlists tailored to achieve your goals, whilst smart technology ensures the sound remains fresh, relevant and up-to-date. If you opt for Head Office control, a dedicated dashboard will enable you to monitor and manage the music across all your spaces. If you opt for On-Site control, selected managers get the control and flexibility needed to reflect their unique environment, whilst protecting your brand. 

harbour hotels music

Case in point: Harbour Hotels

Our client – Harbour Hotels – is the perfect example of music centralisation, where a holistic guest experience has always been paramount. They believe that “music works on an emotional level, but also from a revenue-generating perspective. If you’re in a space where you’re enjoying the vibe and the music, it’s the difference between deciding to go elsewhere or staying for another cocktail.” However, as they started expanding exponentially, control and adaptability were critical points they needed to be mindful of, especially when it came to enhancing their guest experience.  

They needed a music provider which could assist them with multi-zoned, multi-site flexibility: 
COMPANY LEVEL: music to consistently communicate their new lifestyle brand ‘DNA’ across sites.
SITE LEVEL: curate music to reflect each hotel’s unique locale and clientele.
VENUE LEVEL: dynamic music to match the atmosphere and demographic shifts of each space throughout the day.

Ambie tailored a solution to complement their request by providing centralised music control and easy management access, playlists tailored to each hotel, venue and location as well as dynamic music that shifts throughout the day, can be adjusted in the moment, and is updated every month.

Music works on an emotional level, but also from a revenue-generating perspective. If you’re in a space where you’re enjoying the vibe and the music, it’s the difference between deciding to go elsewhere or staying for another cocktail.

Jennifer Needham – Head of Entertainment, Events and Partnerships, Harbour Hotels

Top ticks for companies when considering music

  • Balance the need for customer and staff satisfaction. Schedule meetings to listen to your staff’s feedback on the music and feed this into the curation profile.
  • Include warm up or closing playlists solely for the staff when they are the only people on site.
  • Periodically review the music to check if the music profile still fits the direction of your brand and customer demographics.

Ambie delivers a personalised music service to hospitality venues and spaces worldwide, creating memorable guest experiences that enhance reputation and drive revenue. We understand the importance of music which compliments a brand and how the right or wrong music can make or break an organisation’s reputation.

If you’d like to know more about whether a centralised service like Ambie could benefit your business, drive growth and create your desired atmosphere, talk to our team.