Background Music for Museums and Exhibitions
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As you know, most museums and cultural exhibitions are characterized by a deep silence or simply ambient noise.
And that’s no surprise since one of the requirements they ask many times when letting visitors into these types of events is not to make too much noise.
However, the real question is:
Why not to try to improve the sound environment?
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If in previous articles we talked about the importance of music in business, shouldn’t that also apply to culture?
Let’s not forget that this is another form of business.
The fact that some important museums, such as the Pompidou Museum in Paris, the Reina Sofia Museum in Spain or the Alhambra in Granada, have already done some experiments on the use of music, shows that this is being a very important element to take into account to grow this type of cultural sites.
Next, I will explain why the best museums and exhibitions are interested in this sound element and how to use it to improve the overall feeling on your museum or exhibition.
Why use music in museums and exhibitions?
When we go to a museum or an exhibition, the most used sense of the human body is logically sight.
However, this is not the only sense that comes into play. It is for this reason that most businesses are trying to make use of what is known as sensory advertising, in order to provoke a diversification of senses in their activity, thus achieving greater profitability.
Now I will explain the main reasons why you should use music in your museums or exhibitions: One of them is to personalize the experience.
The fact that, for example, a museum of the best painters in our history uses classical music could reinforce this classical theme of its cultural content.
In addition, the use of music on cultural sites is a growing trend, but not yet a majority, which would help your museum to create some differentiation.
It should also be borne in mind that in a museum or exhibition the goal of most visitors is to enjoy.
Therefore, apart from trying to sell paintings, photographs, or cultural pieces, the museum should focus on offering a good experience, and music can play a very important role in that.
But… Why is music able to offer a better experience to visitors?
First of all, because music makes visitors feel more comfortable, sometimes breaking with the boring silence of museums and at the same time passing in the background those comments usually made by visitors to an exhibition.
In fact, research by Brianna Brenner (Washington), ‘Does Music Matter to Museum Visitors?: Understanding the Effect of Music in an Exhibit on the Visitor Experience‘ showed that the presence of music has a great influence on making visitors spend more time at these cultural sites.
Music also has that great ability to create a pleasant atmosphere, helping visitors to have a good attitude during the visit and making it a more sensory experience.
Thanks to this atmosphere, visitors are able to have a more active, more participative, and at the same time more reflective attitude.
This makes it easier for them to imagine themselves living in the era that Picasso’s Guernica, for example.
Therefore, with the use of this element what you will achieve is more realism.
Art is not just about seeing and saying “how beautiful!” You have to live in this world and you have to feel it.
And that’s where music is key.
In fact, it helps enormously to create an affective feeling of the visitor towards the cultural pieces.
It is no longer only the sight that works, but also other senses and that sensory combination is what creates those deep sensations and emotions.
In addition, music not only helps the visitor to imagine in a certain time and in a specific situation, since it is also able to favor that this one can put itself in the skin of the artist, more bearing in mind that many authors tried and try to look for the inspiration and relaxation to produce their works by means of the music.
In Brenner’s previous research, it was also shown that music can play a very important role in the attention of visitors and also in their memory.
These two aspects conclude in another function that can exercise this sound element in museums and exhibitions.
This consists of making visitors more likely to learn in these types of places that if there were no music.
With all this, you will probably want to make use of music in your museum or in your next exhibition, since, as in any business, the better the experience, the more chances of a returning visitor.
So, next, I’ll explain to you the aspects that must be taken into account to start using this sound element properly.
How to manage the sound element in cultural exhibitions?
The first thing to keep in mind is that the way you manage the music for your museum or exhibition will depend on your budget.
For example, there are many such sites that often prefer to manage the music leaving it in the hands of others, i.e. hiring a band to play live or also, for example, bringing a DJ.
Whether you opt for a soundtrack or a live DJ will also depend a lot on the type of site, since it is not the same to have to put music in a history museum than in a contemporary photography exhibition.
Another aspect to bear in mind when putting music on is the musical genre.
Obviously, reggaeton, for example, would have no place on such sites.
In fact, it would be necessary to opt for more classical genres, although everything will depend on the cultural contents of the museum or exhibition in question since if these refer to a more current era, one can opt for somewhat more modern music.
However, it must always have a low music rhythm, so that the reflection and imagination processes of the visitors are facilitated and, consequently, they stay there longer.
On the contrary, if we want visitors to leave the site, because the museum is closing or because the exhibition is running out, it would be good to opt for a higher rhythm of music so that they are quicker to leave the site or even turn off the musical thread altogether.
In terms of volume, as always, you must be able to find that perfect point: neither so high that the cultural pieces are in the background, nor so low that it is not heard and has no effect on visitors.
It is also worth mentioning that in order to intensify the effects of music, it must be accompanied by a decoration, some colors, some lights… that are in perfect harmony with it.
For example, if it’s classical music the one that you’re playing, it is not recommended to use very bright and electric colors on the walls.
It would be best to opt for more elegant or more discreet colors, such as white.
Next, I will explain the most recommended methods when acquiring and playing this music.
Purchasing the music
As you probably already know, and more working in the world of culture, songs are protected by copyright.
Therefore, unless you have the authorization of the original author or the record company that owns the content to give it a commercial use, you should start looking for ways to obtain the respective licenses of use.
I’ll introduce you to the main ways to obtain these licenses:
The main Performance Rights Organization in each country, (BMI, ASCAP or SESAC in the US, PPL-PRS in the UK…), establishes a set of fees according to the surface area of your exhibition or museum.
You can check for example the prices of their licenses on this page for the UK, ranging from £11 per week to £133 per year depending on the length of the exhibition. The prices for the US are even more expensive.
On many occasions, PRO licenses can be somewhat abusive and, in addition, they are precisely the ones that carry out the inspections we talked about. That’s why I’ve introduced you to a much cheaper online platform with many more features and options:
2. Soundtrack Your Brand
Luckily for you, the music licensing market is growing by leaps and bounds.
You can avoid exorbitant rates of the PROs’ licenses and enjoy multiple ease of use thanks to the option Soundtrack Your Brand .
What differentiates this website from paying the PRO licenses and other music streaming services, apart from its price, is:
- Automatic update of playlists and songs to avoid repetitions and saturation - Easy programming of music at specific days and times - Can be used remotely via smartphone, tablet or computer - Import of playlists and songs from Spotify
- More than 300 soundtracks of different genres and styles - A music library that grows with 10,000 new songs every day - Offline mode. You won’t run out of music even if you run out of Internet - Available for the most used operating systems: iOS, Android and Windows
On top of that, Soundtrack Your Brand offers an unparalleled music experience to its customers.
It subtly blends AI – Artificial Intelligence – and expert music curation to deliver an unbeatable and scientifically proven user experience.
What are their prices?
Logically, the prices of this platform are much more affordable: $34.99 per month for each museum or site where an exhibition is to be held.
It is true that this will be the price for most of USA and Canada.
However, the cost of the service differs depending on where you are.
For example, for most European countries, the cost will be 24.29€ per month, or if it is the case in the United Kingdom, it will be GBP 26.99 per month.
It looks the same, but the currency exchange rate and associated taxes mean that it is not exactly the same in every country.
In addition, Soundtrack Your Brand is currently offering a free one-month period so that you can try their service without any kind of commitment.
And if you are looking for other alternatives of services with streaming music for your museum, you also have the option of Cloud Cover Music – a platform with radio stations according to the needs of your business, but only valid for the area of the United States or Canada.
But before finishing this section, you should know something important regarding the license of Soundtrack Your Brand.
Soundtrack Your Brand usually offers all the necessary rights on the music tracks they have available. However, in some countries like Spain, United Kingdom or Australia, among others, it is necessary to acquire the public communication license through the author’s societies -in Spain, the SGAE- in order to use Soundtrack Your Brand legally.
In short, if you want to make the most of your museum or exhibition in order to have more possibilities of generating income, you cannot leave aside an increasingly important element in the performance of any business: music.
In addition, by offering a greater experience, not only will you get more chances of visitors coming back, but you will also get a positive word of mouth that will consequently help you attract new visitors without spending a single euro on advertising.
However, don’t forget, before getting down to work on this subject, to make an appropriate study of the subject matter of the contents of your museum or exhibition, as you may have to opt for different types of music depending on the room in question.
Remember that to use it you must obtain the respective licenses but with platforms like Soundtrack Your Brand in the market you have it very easy to avoid the sanctions and abusive prices of PRO companies.