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Inside the booming business of background music

High-street businesses as an experience

Shops are no longer just a functional place to buy things in. In the face of competition from online retailers, many high-street businesses can provide their customers with more than just satisfying their basic needs: They can repackage shops as an experience, using the marketing power of sound that is accessible through online music libraries.

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Inside the booming business of background music

Inside the booming business of background music

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/nov/06/inside-the-booming-business-of-background-music

theguardian.com

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Key Ideas

Background music is powerful

Even if you are hardly aware of it, music can be surprisingly powerful.

Researchers have found that it can affect:

  • how much time we think has passed while waiting
  • how co-operative shoppers are with sales staff
  • how sweet or bitter food tastes
  • what you will purchase. (One study found that shopper's preference for German or French wine shifted according to what traditional music was playing at the time.)

The background music industry

It is also known as music design, music consultancy, or as part of a broader package of experiential design or sensory marketing.

The work involves creating distinct,  compatible musical identities for brands.

Muzak and background music

Muzak, a brand of background music, set the template for background music. It played in retail stores and other commercial premises and sold itself on the basis that it could increase productivity in workplaces. 

Muzak's template for background music persisted for decades. The music was a balm to ease awkward silences and to encourage and brighten the mood.

Effects music can have on us

  • The physical effect. We subconsciously match what we are doing to what we hear. One study found that diners chewed at a faster pace when higher-tempo music was played.
  • Associations that music can trigger and how our environment can affect those associations. Diners are willing to spend more when classical music is played. Researchers suggest it is because classical music is associated with quality.

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