Defining a music strategy

Whether you are a hotel, restaurant, retail store, or any other type of brick and mortar business, music is often an afterthought in the design of your space.

Although using music in your business can and should be fun, there are some initial evaluations you can make that will help focus your choices and lead to your music shaping your environment, rather than being chosen solely based on your personal tastes.

We’ve worked with dozens of clients that looked to use music as a background service, only to find they were never happy with it.  Music evokes emotion, creates a mood, or accentuates an environment.  It is never in the background.  If you don’t have a clear understanding about why you are using music, then you shouldn’t use it at all.

We’ve spoken with many frustrated clients who say nothing is right for them.  What they don’t understand is that they’ve never defined their own internal identity.   It’s not about picking your personal favorite songs – it’s about putting together a sound that represents who you are as a company, what your products or services mean to your customers, and what you want them to mean.  It’s about how the music projects and translates the visuals of your space, and how it actually sounds in a space with different building materials and architectural designs.

Here are some initial questions to evaluate before making the jump into changing your music or adding music into your business environment:

No matter how big or how small your company is, your musical environment plays a part in creating a connection between customer experience and customer perception.  Defining who you are is fundamental to any business so that your customers recognize you amongst the competition.

Consider your business environment as an individual and ask yourself
    1. What are my business’ values, our core beliefs?  For a list of words to get you started take a look here
    2. What is my business’ personality?  Are you outgoing?  Shy?  etc…?  Here is a great exercise to inspire your thoughts

Music isn’t just about hearing, it’s about feeling! Research has proven that deaf people can experience music by feeling the vibrations in their bodies.  A well-known deaf musician is the composer Ludwig van Beethoven, who composed many famous works even after he had completely lost his hearing. There are actually many deaf musicians, including Evelyn Glennie, a highly acclaimed percussionist; Chris Buck, a virtuoso violinist; Robert Franz, a composer; and Johnnie Ray the American singer, songwriter and pianist who was partially deaf at 13 years old and, after surgery in 1958, became completely deaf.  This indicates that music is involved in a deeper cognitive process than unexamined phrases such as “pleasing to the ear” would suggest.

It is very important to define a clear objective of what you want music to do for your business
  1. Why do I want to play music?
  2. Do I want to play music to entertain and keep my employees’ happy?
  3. Do I want to create a sound that is uniquely mine and communicates my unique business personality?
  4. Do I want to play music for my customer’s perceived musical tastes?
  5. What are the benefits of music to me in my place of business?
  6. What is my budget for music?
With clearly defined goals you will be able to
  1. Take responsibility for the emotional value in your business space.
  2. Be able to communicate to employees and receive buy-in, so you’re not justifying the sound or listening to complaints about employees’ personal music likes and dislikes.
  3. Use music effectively to communicate your identity.
  4. Connect with your customers on an emotional level.
  5. Research music providers more objectively.

While these steps are only the beginning of the defining your music strategy (and by no means an exhaustive list), they are necessary questions to answer if you want to use music effectively as a design and communication tool in your business environment.