Why is music for Hospitality still so archaic?

Now, music tech has allowed artists to take control over their own careers and not have rely on the major labels to release an album or reach their audiences. This is largely because of tools such as Soundcloud, Bandcamp and sites like Kickstarter which help them fund their own projects and reach their own fan base.

The power of music is evident and brands have taken note too — Remember the Adidas Originals ad featuring “Why Can’t there be Love” by Dee Dee Edwards. Music evokes emotions that are hard to replicate as instantaneously with any type of other media.

Companies like Moodmedia specialise in sound and even scent but this is much more focused on large consumer corporations like supermarkets, shopping malls and conference centres — with the aim to activate consumers into a certain action (buy this product, spend more time around this aisle etc.).

The Hospitality industry relies heavily on music and entertainment too, however no real ground breaking advances have really been made. Venues use background music providers,but the biggest problem I see with these services is that it doesn’t actually allow a brand to create their own musical identity. You are very likely to have the same set of songs as the pub down the road that works with the same background music provider.

More recently venue owners have connected their smartphones to stream their music.

The downside? Either they play curated playlists or radio streams (which they cannot adjust or modify) or they have to spend time creating their playlist. Now, if you have ever owned your own business, you know that time is precious. So spending hours on end every week, to curate your own playlists, is just not an option.

I think that is a massive problem and that is why I initially started Muru Music. We want to give small and mid sized privately owned businesses like your local café or bar, the tools to create their own musical identity. The success of any good café or bar is largely down to the vibe which is a mixture of friendly staff, comfortable décor and the right type of music.

Music is important for setting the vibe for your customers, but it is equally as important if not more, to keep your staff motivated and happy.

Repetition is a killer! I know hospitality professionals that work in venues with the same playlists day in and day out — so they know when that Katy Perry song comes on, it is almost their lunch break or when this other song comes on, their shift is over. This is not conducive to a happy work environment, which is not what you want as a venue owner.

Further to that point. Imagine a venue on a Monday night. They are generally quiet with a few people having a drink and the background music is well suited. All of a sudden a group of 20 people walk in, celebrating a big promotion at work. The venue manager has two options — leave the music as is with the risk of killing the vibe and losing these 20 customers, or changing the music slightly to keep everyone happy and the new patrons entertained. I would hope venue managers would always strive for the latter.

But today the day there is no really easy way to do that. Music is scheduled and programed leaving very little room for flexibility.

So with Muru we started from the ground up to provide a solution that was super easy to use by owners, venue managers and also staff. Some of our must haves were — fresh new content daily, to keep staff happy and motivated. Extended playlists that could play all day throughout operating hours. Settings that would allow a person to adjust the music at any given time.

Sure, there are other solutions in the market today that allow you to schedule and create your own playlist, but we believe our approach actually allows for much greater flexibility and more importantly personalisation, allowing a venue to truly create their own musical identity.

One major hurdle that we currently still face in Australia with streaming music in venues, is public performance licenses (Spotify is not yet licensed for public performance).

These fees are not very clear or consistent which is something we hope PPCA, APRA and the Publishers will review in the short term. From a business perspective, they are missing out on a very large revenue opportunity — if they can agree on a simple unified license fee.

In a perfect world it would look something like this: If you own a venue and play music from your phone or tablet — that will cost $100AUD a month. This would be paid to one collecting body and then distributed to the collecting societies, labels, publishers and streaming services.

Muru, could provide detailed reporting on what songs actually get selected and played by users, which would tackle another big issuing facing the music industry — equal distribution of streaming revenue.

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