Ever wondered who is responsible for the music you hear when you’re out at a bar, relaxing in a spa or feasting at your favourite restaurant? On average, a daily business playlist contains 300 tracks! That’s over 2,100 songs per week! How do these ideal tracks get selected to create the perfect ambiance for the setting? Or is it totally random? Who is driving this music power-house operation?
The big debate continues, human vs. technology! Will technology replace human expertise or will there still be a need for human intuition and logic which technology cannot (yet, if ever) replicate? Or can they co-exist and work together when it comes to creating personalised playlists which are relevant, on-brand and attract the right clientele?
Many businesses, especially in hospitality, use music as a tool to create the desired ambiance, attract the right people at the right times and ultimately, ensure loyalty and retention. Here at Ambie, we’re often asked if it’s enough for technology to create and maintain playlists which work effectively, or can this only be done accurately with human interaction, which of course, can be a costly resource?
Music is so important on multiple levels, that getting it right from the get-go, can save not only a lot of hassle, resource and money, but can also help encourage happy customers to return again. With this in mind, we delve deeper into the ins and outs of both; where we believe they should co-exist in order to compliment and strengthen each other.
Human expertise in creating music
It’s important for businesses to weigh up whether solely using human expertise is cost-efficient, effective and the right solution for their establishment. There are a plethora of questions which need to be addressed first and foremost:
- Is your music created, refreshed and updated in-house or outsourced? And, how often?
- Is liaising with a curator once sufficient, or does there need to be regular communication?
- Once the music creator understands your brand values, goals and requirements, is that enough information needed to create ongoing music for your brand?
- How much does it cost for this human expertise, and is this within budget?
- Is human expertise and interaction a once-off requirement at the beginning of the relationship then technology can take over, or does this extend further?
- Is having the option of feedback and dialogue with the person choosing your music important, or can you rely solely on technology and algorithms?
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
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.
When it comes to the human side of creating music, the first question Music Curators usually always ask is “tell us your story.” At Ambie, we really want to know who and what the brand is all about, what makes them tick, what are their USPs, and ultimately, why do they need music in their business. From there, it is easier to productively delve into customer demographics, brand values, number of venues and so forth. Trading patterns for each site and space per site are also incredibly important, helping to create a grand picture of the ebb and flow of footfall within the venue from opening to closing.
The more intricate the understanding of the ins and outs of clients from the get-go, the easier it is for curators to fully gauge what’s the best route to go and then their real expertise will shine. What human expertise does bring to the table is the personable element in the relationship of creating the right music. Having the opportunity of 2-way dialogue is priceless and takes away the anonymity of solely relying on technology.
The role of technology in curation of playlists
The world we live in is widely becoming a technology-driven world, therefore using technology in all aspects of business is no longer something intangible and futuristic, but rather part of our everyday lives. Whilst for many there is the fear of technology taking over and the need for human expertise becoming redundant, it is also being widely accepted and welcomed in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.
With this in mind, there is most certainly a fundamental place for technology when it comes to an organisation’s music, and long-term maintenance of tracks and playlists. Technology has the power to streamline processes with its use of algorithms / set of rules. You can set up custom rules which will turn data into actionable information with step-by-step instructions for how to complete a specific task. For example, adding songs with the same tempo, mood and ambiance.
When it comes to background music curation and the onward process of refreshing and ensuring playlists are up to date, technology plays a massive role as it can cleverly speed up any manual work. Technology is hugely important when it comes to managing tracks, especially repeats, as well as scheduling playlists.
Ambie’s Smart Shuffle feature is bespoke built technology which 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, which if done manually could take hours.
Gideon Chain, CEO of Ambie, explains that “at Ambie, we utilise technology and 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 (i.e. human expertise) to tweak the schedule or add more tracks accordingly.”
The unique Ambie algorithm and smart shuffle technology keeps client music constantly rotating, creating a fresher experience for staff and customers, without being repetitive.Ben Yates, Head of Curation at Ambie
To use both, or not to use both, that is the question…
Music is a competitive tool for business owners. The right music will have a positive impact on customer behaviour, retention rates, peoples’ moods, the brand identity and image, and ultimately, the overall experience. Therefore, by tapping into the benefits of both human expertise and technology which compliment your business, your objectives, your resources and budgets, is important to do. For example, a small retail shop would probably require a lot less from each, than a chain of busy hotels which consist of bars, restaurants, lobbies and spas with varying trading patterns and customer demographics.
Your business will attract different customers and have different atmospheres throughout the week. Your music should shift to reflect and these changes, and match your trading patterns. And this is where human expertise and technology can work hand-in-hand. It’s not practical to have your staff interrupt their service to manually change playlists or search for the right genre if the ambiance changes, or the mood needs shifting. This is where technology comes into play; you can schedule when you want certain playlists, which have been created expertly, to play, helping create the right mood at the right time.
Another fundamental factor to take into consideration is whether the same playlists can be played at different venues / spaces under the same brand, or does each establishment need its own unique playlists. How much brand consistency is required? Could playlists overlap per venue? Or does each venue have its own look and feel, client demographic and varying objectives?
Customer Story: Harbour Hotels
We chatted to Jennifer Needham (Head of Entertainment, Events and Partnerships) at Harbour Hotels about how important music is as part of their growth and rebrand strategy. In essence, they required a solution which would accommodate for multi-zoned, multi-site flexibility.
Due to their hotel expansion, on a COMPANY level, they needed music to consistently communicate their new lifestyle brand ‘DNA’ across all sites. On a SITE level, they required curated music to reflect each hotel’s unique locale and clientele. And finally, on a VENUE level, they had to deliver dynamic music to match the atmosphere and demographic shifts of each space throughout the day. This proved really difficult and time / cost consuming to get right, especially at such a pivotal point in the hotel’s trajectory.
Ambie excelled with the use of their team’s human expertise and experience, as well as their technology solutions. Each of the playlists are dynamic and on-point, just like the spaces they play in. They shift throughout the day, can be adjusted in the moment, and are updated every month with the backing of clever technology.
“Sometimes you find you have a randomly busy Monday afternoon. Ambie enables you to make changes quickly with its technology and clever user interfaces,” adds Jen. “You can jump to a new playlist, skip a song or bump the volume to best fit the live atmosphere of a room.” This is possible through both human and technological expertise.
So, how do you choose the background music in your business? Is it done purely by a team or solely through technology, or do you combine the two to get the both out of your music? Our Music Specialists would love to know what’s working for you, and what’s not. Get in touch.