If, like me, you’ve ever hung around a shop just a little bit longer because your favorite band was playing on the radio, then you can understand the influence music has on consumer behavior. Choosing the right music for your restaurant can affect how long a guest stays and even how much they spend.
So how do you select the right music for your restaurant? We spoke to someone recently who creates playlists for restaurants for a living. Nicholas Rubwright is the founder of Dozmia, a platform that recommends music to users based on what they already listen to. We asked him for advice on choosing the most suitable music for your venue, and he shared some interesting insights.
How does Dozmia work?
If you download the app as a music fan, it recommends new music based on what’s on your iPhone and based on different genres and artists you select that you like. For businesses, we build custom playlists, considering the atmosphere the business is going for.
So if a coffee shop comes to us and says ‘we have a chill atmosphere, we want people to stay a while and buy more drinks’, we take into account the different psychological effects of the music and how the music fits in with their atmosphere, and then build a playlist for them.
Then if our consumer comes into the restaurant, it uses Bluetooth low energy between the devices to identify the playlist that it’s playing, and the user can then save the playlist and share it with their friends.
I imagine restaurants will need fairly large playlists. How long are they generally?
The playlists are generally a few hundred songs, so you when it comes to days there won’t be much repetition. We can always add to the playlist too, because we get new submissions from artists every day. So if we hear a song that might go with a customer’s playlist, we’ll just add it in. And we can do that remotely, so everything can be updated quickly.
The restaurant customers have the same recommendation system that our users have, so if they find a song they like, they can add it to the playlist themselves. We make the playlist for them but they can further customize it to their needs.
How can a restaurant find out what type of music suits their venue?
We would ask them about other sensory elements of the restaurant. So what’s hanging on their walls, what colors are in the restaurant? Things like who are their target customer, because we want the music to resonate with their target customer as well.
And then we ask what their business goals are. So do they want to have a high rate of table turnover, or do they want people to stay longer and buy drinks?
"If you put the volume up, people are going to leave more quickly. A higher volume level increases our heart rate, which leads to us doing other things faster, and that includes eating."
Music can affect how long people stay in restaurants. It’s also important to keep in mind the volume of the music. Because if it’s too high, that’ll increase the table turnover, but it creates a worse customer experience. When people can’t socialise, the table turnover increases for reasons that aren’t very good from a customer experience standpoint.
So what type of music makes people stay longer?
For many people, staying in the restaurant has to do with the tempo of the music. Faster songs make it feel like a span of time is shorter, so people leave more quickly. If you play slower music, people will stay longer.
And you can lower the volume to a point where it doesn’t have as much of an affect on the customers. If you put the volume higher, people are going to leave more quickly. Because a higher volume level increases our heart rate, which leads to us doing other things faster, and that includes eating.
What about if you want your customers to spend more?
With classical music, people usually buy more expensive products compared to with pop music. If you have a high class restaurant, and you play pop music, then the prices are going to be perceived as really high, while if you play classical music, assuming the rest of the atmosphere works, they’re going to perceive the prices lower, so they’re going to spend more money.
In some cases, the spending can go up by 40%, because people spend more on alcohol. You still have to have a really good menu design and everything but music helps too.
Do you think there’s a difference between, for example, instrumental music and music with vocals in it?
You want to use instrumental music if you’re trying to establish a classier atmosphere. Vocals can in some cases distract from the rest of the atmosphere. So if your atmosphere is heavily reliant on music, that’s when you want vocals. If it’s a classier place, like if you’re selling expensive alcohol and the menu prices are like $40 and up, you probably want to use instrumental music. If it’s a more casual place, lyrics are fine.
What kind of results have you seen when businesses get their music right?
I think what Starbucks does is really cool. They focus on newer artists, and they really make music a huge part of their culture.
Earlier on, I got a chance to talk with one of the guys who used to do the music with them, and they were really interested in helping new musicians and playing the right sort of music in their restaurants. They actually have their own team that curates all the playlists and sometimes they can differ from restaurant to restaurant. They have a lot of success with that.
People actually go and buy CDs in Starbucks, and I think that’s really cool.
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