Background music in restaurants has a primary objective and is that both customers and workers feel comfortable.
Thanks to the music, the owners have the possibility to avoid the typical ambient sound, formed by the chewing of food, the noises of the cutlery when coming into contact with the dishes and by the conversations of the table next to ours.
A priori it may seem that the selection of background music for a restaurant is a simple task: many owners believe that playing YouTube videos or tuning in to any music station, be it radio or television is enough.
Nothing further from reality.
As we will see, these actions are leading us to have to pay a monthly fee to the so-called P.R.O. (Performance Rights Organizations) which in the United States are the BMI, ASCAP or SESAC societies.
This fee is often prohibitive, while there are simpler and cheaper alternatives on the Internet, such as the service offered by Soundtrack Your Brand, as we will see below.
Let’s check first what options do we have and in the second part of the article we’ll see how the type of music on our business premises affects the subconscious level of our clients and how to choose then the right kind of music.
Where and how to find the music?
Let’s analyze one by one all the options that we have when putting background music in our restaurants:
P.R.O.s (Performance Rights Organizations)
If as an owner or manager of a restaurant you have ever thought about using every day and free music tools, such as YouTube, radio or music TV stations simply with the aim of reducing costs, you are making a big mistake.
In theory, you would be committing an offense for fraudulent use of such music by not having the authorization of the owners of the copyrights.
In order to use these free online tools in a completely legal manner, a monthly fee payment would be required to one of the PROs (BMI, ASCAP or SESAC in the USA, or click here to discover which one operates in your country if you’re abroad), as we have previously commented.
Their staff verifies that this is so by visiting the corresponding premises and asking to see the licenses of use or fining the owners if they do not have them.
What are their prices?
Obtaining a license includes the use of the musical and audiovisual repertoire by any means and prices may vary depending on different factors, such as:
- Does the restaurant have live music performances?
- Are TV’s and radios being used?
- Is admission being charged?
- Does the restaurant use recorded music?
- What’s the occupancy of the premises? You’ve seen the signs, often put up by fire departments, to show that no more than X number of people should be inside.
Instructions are to take the occupancy X times $3.33, which for example if X = 50 equals $166.50.
However, ASCAP has a minimum fee of $356. You pay whichever is greater.
You can see here an example of the actual form you have to fill to calculate the amount to pay.
And there’s another issue.
Not all songs are licensed through ASCAP.
The other music licensing agencies are BMI and SESAC.
So for $356 a year this restaurant with 50 people could only play ASCAP licensed songs, not just any song.
In order to legally play any song commercially available, three licenses would be needed. Let’s assume BMI and SEASAC use the ASCAP formula.
It would cost $1,068 a year to play any and all music in this restaurant, and that’s just for the music licensing.
To avoid this excessive expense, we will analyze two online platforms for music reproduction highly recommended, with a lot of nice features and much, much more affordable.
Soundtrack Your Brand
Soundtrack Your Brand is a company that was founded in 2013 by two former Spotify employees: Ola Sars and Andreas Liffgarden.
It has long been erroneously known as Spotify for Business, however, Spotify is just one of its many shareholders and its platform is unrelated to that of Soundtrack Your Brand.
The service of this online platform takes into account the constant updating of its content and does so with the aim of not saturating either customers or employees since poor management of music in an establishment can even be counterproductive.
In fact, each of its more than 300 soundtracks is expanded by approximately 10,000 new songs per day.
The platform helps its customers in the following ways:
- To automatically select the right type of music for your business and the right music for each moment of the day.
- It offers the possibility of importing playlists from Spotify, an application with which the platform has signed a collaboration agreement.
- The possibility of being able to program the music, in such a way that the restorers can decide the days and the hours in which to reproduce certain types of music or certain songs in particular. Ideal to create different moods for your guests during the day and week.
- The possibility of using the service remotely to control several locations from the same device, either smartphone, tablet or laptop.
- Support included for the most widely used operating systems such as Android, iOS and Windows.
- Offline mode. In the hypothetical case that the Internet connection is down, your restaurant will not run out of background music due to the pre-loading of the next songs to be played.
No special installation or hardware is needed, just a computer or smartphone connected to the Internet to access to their service.
What are their prices?
The price to enjoy all these facilities is always fixed and independent of the square meters of the premises and is $34.99 per month in the USA and Canada or it’s equivalent in your local currency (24,29 EUR in most European countries, 26.99 GBP in the United Kingdom, etc).
They also offer a free one-month trial period so you can verify their excellent performance without any compromise.
For those smaller restaurants, there is another even cheaper alternative:
Cloud Cover Music
Cloud Cover Music is also a platform dedicated to providing music for commercial uses and, for us, is the best option if you’re located in the United States or Canada.
Their radio license gives us the possibility to enjoy full legal,-with all rights included, and without advertising-, unlimited access to 120 stations of different types of musical genres, ranging from pop-rock, going through jazz, dance and indie, to genres like Latin music.
What are their prices?
Their prices vary depending on the plan you chose according to your requirements, but still, they are significantly lower than any of the PROs:
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They also offer a free 14 days trial without the need to provide any bank details:
Analyzed the options, let’s see how to choose the perfect music for our restaurant:
Choosing the right music
Music has to be in perfect harmony with:
- The average age of the public that comes to our establishment.
- The time of day when the restaurant is offering its services.
- The decoration of the place.
- The mentality of the owners.
It also has to be appropriate for the type of restaurant:
The most expensive restaurants tend to use classical music and jazz with the aim of reinforcing the sensation of elegance and exquisiteness of their dishes.
In several studies conducted with diners in this type of premises, it was shown that the music not only affected the emotions of the customers, but also the money they spent!
The customers felt more comfortable and more satisfied when in the background they were accompanied by a gentle rhythm of classical music on the piano, thanks to which the average expenditure increased by 20%, according to those studies.
In this environment not only clients spent more, but also were willing to return to the restaurant more frequently.
Restaurants from other countries or thematic Restaurants
In the same way, restaurants that offer typical food of a specific country, such as Italian pizzerias or Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian or Mexican restaurants, usually use music from that region to help customers feel as if they were there.
Modern Restaurants, vegetarian or vegan
In modern restaurants, like vegetarian or vegan restaurants we must understand that our target audience is young, technological and adapted to the current trends.
Therefore we will avoid the most classical music and we will play current music, with a cooler or hipster touch.
Other examples would be the use of nostalgic music of the ’70s, 80’s or ’90s for family restaurants in order to increase that feeling of belonging, remembering the songs of his childhood or youth.
Also, you can get to the personalization of music according to the tastes of customers, continuing with the same idea as the mythical jukebox machines.
The theme, rhythm and musical genre are very important elements when selecting music for a restaurant and volume is not less, since this should not be at any time:
- Not so low as to continue listening to the ambient sound of the place.
- Not so high as to have difficulties when talking with the companions of the same table.
In short, if our goal is to increase the number of customers of our restaurant and its loyalty, it is essential to give the music an appropriate use.
Music, like lighting, is an essential factor that affects the perception, feelings and spending of customers in any restaurant.
Obviously and on the basis that at the time of running a business, the current legislation must be respected at all times, it is essential for any establishment, in this case for restaurants, to pay for the licenses of the copyright titles for the use of any type of music.
With this premise, as owners or managers of a restaurant, we have two options:
- Pay those expensive and time-consuming licenses to the PROs.
- Opting for platforms such as Soundtrack Your Brand or Cloud Cover Music.
The latter is much more affordable, with more options and facilities than the PRO licenses.
In fact, a large number of leading brands in their respective markets have been using these music playback tools for some time now.
Well-known companies like Mercedes-Benz, Burger King, Swatch, Mango, Timberland, McDonald’s o Swarovski are already part of their customer base.
Therefore if you are a restaurant owner or manager and do not want to stay behind in your business sector, start to consider these essential platforms, since, today, they are vital tools for the development of any profitable business in this industry.