secrets of background music success


It intoxicates. It soothes. It energizes.

Implemented well, it can boost your food and drink sales by up to 25%!

Music is a tool that is at your disposal…

Be aware of the fact that simply playing random music might actually hurt your sales instead of helping them.  Great news, though!  Soundtrack Your Brand reports that a playlist that enhances or supports your branding concept will increase food sales by as much as 15% and drink sales by even more!

What are the keys to making use of this income-generating tool?  Some of these ideas may surprise you…

Business is slow? Play slow music.  It’s counter-intuitive, we know.  In our humanness, it simply makes sense that if people are in a lull, then we should do things to try to energize them.  But, like so many other things in the restaurant business, things are not always what they seem.  During the slower parts of the day, it’s been shown that if you gear down the music to something slower and more melodic, then customers will stay longer and spend more on their food – upwards of 40% more.

There’s an added bonus to this slow music approach.  When guests are able to dine in an environment that has low lighting and relaxing music, they report higher levels of satisfaction.

Wait lines? Pep it up. When business is hopping, it’s time to match your music to the mood.  Not only will the energy remain high, patrons will actually perceive that they are spending more time in the restaurant than they are.  The result for you?  You can turn the table more quickly, yet the diner won’t feel rushed out.

The standing versus sitting rule. Throughout the day and night, you always want to match the energy of your crowd with the volume of your music. How, you might ask, can you gauge the “energy” of the crowd?  A handy rule of thumb is to turn up the music volume if the majority of the crowd is standing or milling about, and turn down the music volume if the majority of the crowd is sitting (usually dining).

Increase alcohol sales by pumping up the volume.  Simply playing music increases drink sales.  Amping up that music to a higher volume increases the rate of alcohol consumption, which means more sales for you.  BE RESPONSIBLE and never continue to sell alcohol to someone who is becoming inebriated.

Become a country fan. If it fits into your brand concept, or if you can make it fit into your brand concept, seriously consider including country music in your selection.  Whether you’re a fan or not, 4 out of 10 Americans are country music fans and people who lean toward country as their music of choice eat out. A lot. With their families.

Match the frequency of your music to your specialty.  Crazy as it sounds, the frequency (not as in how often, but as in higher-pitched or lower pitched) of your music affects how your customers perceive the taste of their food! Low-frequency music enhances bitter flavors (beer = bitter) and high-frequency music enhances sweet flavors (spumoni = sweet).  It’s crazy, but true.  Play music featuring flutes, violins, or guitars and your customers will appreciate your dessert menu all that much more.  Play music featuring bass or vocalists with deeper voices and your customers will appreciate that craft beer you’re offering like never before.

Volume affects taste, too.  So, you’re known for your dessert menu and have accordingly chosen higher frequency music.  Beware of the volume at which you play that music, though, and always remember that it is background music.  When music is too loud, diners can not perceive sweetness or saltiness well and overall satisfaction decreases.

Keep the elevator music in the elevators.  Please, do us all a favor and do not bring easy listening into your restaurant background music repertoire.  If you insist on easy listening as your playlist, be warned:  Sales will decrease.

And finally, keep your tastes to yourself.  We know – you have excellent taste in music.  But, your best bet is to play the musical preference of your guests.  If you don’t know what their preferences are, then ask them.  But, if you play music they love, then they’re all that more likely to love your restaurant.


It intoxicates. It soothes. It energizes.

Music is a tool that is at your disposal…use it well!

… but please heed this WARNING:  Make sure that you know the rules around using music in your restaurant.  The National Restaurant Association offers a free guide to help you navigate the rules surrounding the Performing Rights Organizations’ (PRO) rules around music usage.  Because your restaurant is a commercial business, you can’t legally simply play your perfect Spotify playlist unless your Spotify account is a business account.  You can’t just turn on the satellite radio and pipe it through your sound system.  You can’t even hire a live band to play covers.  Why? Because you may need to pay licensing fees to a PRO before moving forward.  Do your homework (read the guide and follow the rules) and you will avoid copyright infringement fines.

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