Do's and Don'

Do’s and Don’ts Of Overhead Business Background Music

Do’s and Don’ts Of Overhead Business Background Music

Do's and Don'ts Of Overhead Business Background Music


Retail has certainly changed over the last decade, and with online dominance of companies like Amazon brick-and-mortar stores need to give consumers a reason to put down their smartphones and visit their store. They need to focus on the “in-store” customer experience by engaging shoppers, and keep them coming back.

Believe it or not, many businesses should follow the lead of retailers who engage their in-store customers with overhead background music. Music evokes emotion and is a universally embraced channel that influences shoppers by building an atmosphere, conveying the brand’s values, and even impacting browsing and purchasing behavior. When integrated with other technology outlets, a brand’s in-store background music can be a powerful strategy to have consumers truly connect with the brand.

But to achieve this, the business first ensure that the music solution itself properly reflects their brand image and what they want to achieve. To give you a helping hand, we’ve put together a guide of the basic Dos’ and Don’ts to consider when implementing overhead background music in a business…


#1 – DO ensure your music solution is legal.

When to comes to playing music in business, there are performance licenses that are needed.  The first is for the Composition also known as Publishing Rights. Publishing Rights are the composition and lyrics of a song. The money from Publishing Rights goes to songwriters, composers and publishers.

The second is for the Sound Recording also known as Neighboring Rights. Neighboring Rights are for the recording and music itself. SO when you hear a song on the radio or on a playlist that’s the recording. The money from Neighboring Rights goes to artists and record labels.

The license for both rights is appropriately called a ‘Public Performance License’, which you guessed it, gives you the right to perform the music in public (your business).

What about spotify or Pamdora? Can’t I just use these for music at my business? The simple answer is… no! Bear in mind that consumer music services such as Spotify and Pandora and intended for just that; consumer use. These services specifically state under their terms of use, that you cannot play your Pandora station for your customers.

If you do not receive the proper authorization you can be held liable for damages up to a maximum of $150,000 per song played. Be sure your music solution complies with the law. This will prevent your business from being at risk of licensing penalties in future, and allow you to play music in your venue without worry.

#2 – DO consider the type of music that suits your brand.

When choosing background music to play in a business, it’s easy to slip into the habit of playing chart music or making assumptions on your audience – young people don’t necessarily want to hear the same Top 10 pop songs over and over! While sticking to popular music might seem to suit you just fine or perhaps be a good short-term solution, the power of great music that really encompasses your brand’s messages, enhances other digital touchpoints and elevates the physical experience of a venue cannot be underestimated.

Unless you’re a music mogul yourself, the best way to achieve this is to seek the help of a professional profiler, who will work with you to understand your business’s requirements and provide expert suggestions. This will ensure that you use background music in the most effective way.

#3 – DO vary your music to reflect different dayparts.

It’s very likely that the atmosphere in your store will be different at 10am on a Tuesday to the afternoon rush on weekends, and your choice of music should reflect this.

For busier times, it’s worth knowing that faster, more foreground music has been proven to encourage higher customer spend, as it motivates customers to make quicker and more spontaneous decisions. However, tracks that are too loud and energetic may be inappropriate for your quieter periods. At these times, it may be better to choose a more laidback soundtrack that fits the trading pattern.

Think about the kind of customer behavior you want to encourage at different times and how your music could assist this, avoiding any discord between the environment during that particular trading period and your choice of songs.


#1 – DON’T settle for royalty-free.

To avoid paying certain licenses, many retailers opt for playing royalty-free music in their shops. This is often referred to as ‘soundalike’ music, with cover singers performing well-known tracks. To the untrained ear these covers may sound like the real deal, but the awareness of how out of place and poor quality these can be is growing; when you’re expecting to hear a song you like only to be met with a not-so-good ‘wannabe’ version, it can be very annoying.

If you want to promote a positive, quality perception of your brand, pay the necessary fees to secure the real deal.

#2 – DON’T ignore your customers.

Analyzing how consumers respond to music in a store can be crucial to improving customer experience. While planning what you’ll play and how this fits into your overall digital strategy in advance is essential, it’s when the music is live that you’ll be able to judge what really works. Be aware of how your customers react to changes in your soundtrack and look out for changes in behavior when, for example, you adjust the volume.

Also think about whether the customers your store is attracting are your target audience. If not, why? Perhaps you need to make a few changes to ensure you’re conveying the right message and appealing to your ideal demographic in order to get these customers through the door.

#3 – DON’T get lazy.

Repetitive or dated music solutions can spoil a customer’s perception of your business, as well as giving your competitors a chance to outshine you. Make sure you’re keeping on top of your background music regularly, refreshing playlists every fortnight and ensuring that the same tracks aren’t scheduled to play every day for that same time period – your employees will tell you how irritating this can be!

Keep an eye on what other retailers are doing too, as this will allow you to see how your music, technology and overall experience compare, and help you to stay ‘ahead of the game’.

Final Thoughts…

As business owner, you care about the customer experience. You want the people in your waiting room, lobby, restaurant or retail store to be comfortable, informed, and happy. If you have the chance to do that with entertaining overhead music, why wouldn’t you?

If you’re ready to test overhead background music in your business, contact Original On Hold today to learn about your options.


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