Here’s a guide on how you should curate the RIGHT music for your Business.

Naveen Kumar
Nov 6, 2018 · 7 min read


While it can be difficult to identify the best background music for shopping, it’s easy to identify the music that is the worst. That music is annoying, loud, and so hard to listen to that it can send shoppers right back out the door they came in. Background music plays an important role in keeping shoppers in a store. When it’s bad, it sends customers running. That’s easy to avoid. But, you need more than music that “isn’t bad” when it comes to your retail store.

If you’ve ever walked into a retail store and wondered why certain music is playing, there may, in fact, be some rhyme and reason to the selection.

Research has shown that consumers shop longer and make more purchases when they’re exposed to music. You can use music to make your store so appealing people may want to return — even if they don’t have any buying plans.

“We’re often told that because of our atmosphere, customers come into our shop on days when they need a pick-me-up or to simply relax and recharge, ” says Ann O’Shields, owner of The Nest Egg, a home-furnishings shop in Fairfax, Va. “We play upbeat music and enjoy seeing our customers singing along as they shop.”

Of course, it’s important to make the right musical match with your target customers. For instance, if you’re selling upscale products, the best choice is probably classical or jazz.

In addition, music can help engage employees!

But, if you want to be sure that your music is properly guiding customers, not annoying your staff, matching your branding, and legal to use — we can help. Checkout what we’re up to at

The right background music can:

  • Create a fully branded experience and environment
  • Decrease customer stress and improve customer attitude
  • Provide cues to customers for how quickly they should move through the store
  • Improve employee satisfaction and productivity, and finally
  • Increase sales

It’s not based on personal preferences

Liking the background music for your store isn’t a disqualifier. You don’t have to stop playing the music you like. But, just because you like a certain style of music doesn’t mean it is the right fit for your business or customers. While it might be tempting, do not choose the music for your store based on personal preferences. Play what your customers want to hear.

It matches your brand personality

To figure out what your customers want to hear, start by considering your business as a whole. Write down brand characteristics that define the personality of your business. Then, match the characteristics with a music style that shares the same qualities. Choosing a sound that matches your business personality provides brand continuity and it can also increase sales.

It fits your target audience

Once you determine a sound that matches your brand, dig a little deeper. Consider how your target audience would respond to the background music. Seek songs and sounds for your overhead music playlist that match the preferences and interests of your ideal shopper. Use music that fits their tastes, and disqualify songs that don’t suit their preferences.

It creates the right in-store experience.

Finding the best background music for shopping isn’t just about picking the right songs. It’s also about picking music with the right tempo, rhythm, and volume. Studies have shown that background music in retail stores actually impacts the way that customers engage with their environment.

  • Slow music causes customers to relax and spend more time in the store.
  • Music with a fast tempo causes customers to move more quickly throughout a store and decreases the time they spend shopping.
  • Loud foreground music causes younger shoppers to stay in a store longer.
  • Soft background music causes older shoppers to spend more time shopping.
  • So as you select music for your store, consider your audience and the type of shopping experience you want them to have and choose the sound that matches.

It’s mixed with the right messages.

Background sounds in your retail store aren’t restricted to music. To get the most out of your sound system, you can also incorporate strategic background messaging.

Customers in your store are an engaged audience so you can effectively use overhead messaging to connect with them and:

Direct them to specific departments Alert them of sales and specials Promote products and services Share event announcements

Sell Audio Ad slots to other businesses which creates an additional source of revenue.

It isn’t annoying your staff

While picking background music that your customers will like should be a priority, you can’t completely forget about your staff.

Employees are subjected to background music for long stretches of time. When the music frustrates or annoys them, it can have an impact on the performance of your store.

Overhead music impacts employee productivity and morale.

You need the right balance of music and variety of songs that makes employees happy while still matching the themes and needs of your store.

It won’t get you in trouble

One of the most important factors in selecting the best background music for shopping is often one that retailers overlook — choosing music that is legal to play. Many businesses make this error without even realizing it. But this isn’t a mistake that is easy to walk away from if you are caught. In Tampa, 25 businesses were sued after it was discovered that they were playing copyright without a license.

Playing unlicensed music in retail stores can be an expensive mistake to make. Eleven of the reported settlements in Tampa ranged from 6 lakh to 60 lakh rupees So when selecting music, make sure you know the rules and use only licensed music and playlists.

There are complicated legalities when it comes to playing music in a retail space. You could be breaking those rules if you are playing songs through:

  • The radio
  • CDs
  • iPods
  • Streaming services like Pandora or Spotify

Keep the melody in the background

Consider music an ambience enhancer, not the focal point of the mood you’re trying to create. “Customers shouldn’t really be aware of the music you’re playing,” says Kurt Mortensen, an expert on motivational psychology and author of Persuasion IQ. (AMACOM, 2008) “The music shouldn’t be overpowering. Rather it should be merely an atmospheric presence.”

Strike a balance between soft and loud

You want to keep your store’s music at the right volume so you don’t risk driving them away. Some youth-oriented stores like Abercrombie & Fitch turn the volume quite high, but most stores should aim for moderation.

“Loud music can be a major deterrent specifically if the retailer is targeting a demographic older than 25,” says Patricia Norins, a specialty retail expert and publisher of Gift Shop magazine.

“A softly played, lively and upbeat tune can put shoppers at ease and create an environment that’s warm and fun.” On the other hand, don’t keep the music too low. “Our shoppers are mostly women and they’ll come in with a friend,” O’Shields says. “We know they don’t want people to hear their conversations so music is a great buffer.”

In the survey mentioned above, 82% of the respondents thought it was important that music in a shop has the right volume. If music is played too loudly, it can reduce the time people want to spend in a store, and even cause them to leave without buying anything.While it’s important that your customers hear the music because of its psychological benefits, the volume shouldn’t be so high that it chases them out of the store.

Don’t get too lively

Beat matters as much as volume. The faster the store music is, for example, the more people may feel stressed about how long they’ve been waiting on line. “To some extent, slower-paced music may make people feel calmer, and they may spend more time in your store,” says Lars Perner, assistant professor of clinical marketing at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business.

Choosing the Right Tempo and Key

Music tempo and key can affect how much time customers spend in your retail store.

Tempo refers to the speed of the song. Faster music is shown to increase psychological variables such as heart rate and breathing rate.

Musical tempo also the affects perception of time. Slower music typically makes a span of time feel shorter than faster music. Because of this, slow music can decrease the pace of in-store traffic, which can increase sales since customers will spend more time in the store. Fast paced music, on the other hand, can increase the pace of in-store traffic. While fast paced music can decrease sales, increasing the traffic speeds of your store during high traffic hours may improve the overall customer experience.

The key of a song has to do with its tonality. To keep things simple, songs in a major key usually have a happy sound, while songs with a minor key have a sad sound.

A song’s key can have a positive or negative affect on our mood. Major key songs usually encourage a good, lighter mood, while minor key songs can encourage a more dismal mood. Choosing major key songs is often a better choice in a retail setting because it puts your customers in a positive mood, resulting in higher sales.

The wrong music can make me

When I appreciate music

  • 35% — Stay Longer
  • 31% — Re-visit
  • 21% — Recommend the place to others
  • 14% — Buy more


Choosing music for your business can be time consuming, but it’s worth taking the time to get right. If you don’t have the time, choose a music service provider like Musicwhim. Most business owners don’t realize the importance of music in their retail stores and therefore don’t take the time to get the music right; but if you do take time to choose your music thoughtfully, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors


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