3 industries where background music plays a deceptively large role

16 Oct 2019

Music has always been a fundamental part of our lives and always will be. Without the respective musical cues, how would we know when to weep, cheer or laugh at the right moment during the latest big-screen blockbuster? And without that perfect song, what would a wedding dance be but a sad shuffle?

Beyond the big moments, we are constantly consuming music - either actively or passively. From the morning tunes on the radio on the way to work to the jingles playing over loudspeakers in the supermarket and in the evening, when we relax in front of the TV. It’s always there, in the background, and subtly affecting how we feel and even how we behave.

Music is powerful enough to help us identify a brand from a few notes on one  hand and bring us to tears on the other.

 So, it’s no wonder that so many industries have used its unique powers to their advantage over the years.

The availability of innovative professional sound delivery solutions by major suppliers such as Bose Professional also means that whether you’re  running a hotel, a sporting venue or a school - to quality background music is always an option.

But aside from the obvious (TV, media and, well, the music industry itself), what other industries have been using music to their advantage and not only why, but how?

Live events

Music isn’t just entertainment, it’s a prolific influencer of consumer taste and decision-making. In the live events industry, music is used to control how guests interact with a space, with faster music often used to make them speed up and slower music used to make them linger a little longer. Marketers are experts at utilising music to impact mood and if you head to any trade show you’re likely to see some of that expertise in action.

Typically you’ll notice classical music when the display is going for something ‘epic’, pop music when they are aiming for ‘approachable’, and jazz when they are aiming for ‘relaxed’. It’s all about taking people’s existing preconceptions of music and using them to a marketing advantage.

Retail

We all know that retailers use jingles and loud pop music to sell their wares on television and online, but many also use background music in-store to create a certain atmosphere and guide customers towards specific decisions.

The music in question must resonate with the store’s audience and will also need to be neutral enough not to irritate the staff. This is a common complaint at Christmas when retail staff are all blighted by Fairytale of New York 15 times a day.

Background music can also be used to mask overhead messaging about certain sales and other announcements. The idea is to create an in-store ‘experience’ that reflects the brand of the store and is neither too loud, too imposing, or too forgettable. It’s a tough balance to strike but if you manage to strike it, the rewards will prove fruitful indeed.

Bars and restaurants

A good restaurant is as much about the ambience as the food itself. Indeed, one study found that the right choice of music can boost food and drink sales from 15.6% to 40%.

For restaurants that serve a particular ethnic food, music plays an obvious role - making the guests feel like they have stepped out of a drab British street and into a bustling side-street in India, a honky-tonk American diner, a vineyard in Italy or the streets of Paris. This can be achieved any anything from a commercial PA sound system to a Bluetooth speaker, depending on the size of the establishment. 

The background music should reflect what kind of atmosphere you’re trying to create and what you’re trying to sell. If you’re pushing drinks, for example, turn the volume up and crank up the dance floor fillers, whereas if you’re trying to create an atmosphere of relaxed sophistication and sell cocktails and bar snacks to cosmopolitan couples, maybe settle for something a little less obvious? 

Ultimately, it’s all about playing to your audience and that much is true of all industries that use music to underline their sales pitch and engender themselves to their customers.


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