How Choosing The Right Background Music Can Launch Restaurant Sales

April 11, 2014       Published

Drive up your restaurant sales by choosing the right background music


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What’s This?

Choosing the appropriate music for your restaurant is as vital to successful dining as a quality soundtrack is to a winning motion picture. Music also plays a unique role in influencing customer turnover rate, and individual buying decisions at each table. According to research, up tempo music increases customer turnaround in restaurants, and slow music increases individual customer spending. Conversely, customers drink slower when listening to down tempo music, and even take fewer bites per minute which may actually tempt them to order dessert, coffee, or an after dinner cocktail.

Restaurant music should accentuate the cuisine it serves, and enhance the restaurant’s chosen theme, menu, décor and stylized personality. Careful attention should be paid in tailoring music selections to breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as to the day of the week. Depending on the restaurant, its food, and interior motif, Fridays may be good days to slightly increase music tempo for a faster turnover, with even faster music selected after dinner to increase late-night traffic. Sunday Brunches could feature slow, silky jazz to encourage mingling, conversation, and relaxation.

Choosing Restaurant Music is Complex and Involved

As you can see, choosing restaurant music is a complex and involved process, because not only does the right kind of music create and enhance a specific type of desired atmosphere, music can be used to manage table turnover rates, to influence menu selections, and even help regulate customer age as part of an effort to reach your target audience. If college kids are a restaurant’s prime demographic, faster music may drive older patrons away, but other restaurants may cater to older patrons who are generally from a higher income bracket.

Prescriptive Music is a company that creates soundtracks for restaurants as well as spas and retailers.

Should I Hire a Professional?

Restaurant owners and chefs lack the objectivity to create a music playlist, and by no means should employees or even patrons be allowed to choose a song list. Patrons should simply be told their suggestions will be taken into consideration. The best option is to hire a professional who specializes in the field. Allen Klevens, founder of Prescriptive Music, a music-sensory branding firm, creates soundtracks for restaurants as well as spas and retailers.

Klevens explains that the most common mistake is an owner’s music preferences coming before what makes the most sense for their guests. “Owners or chef-owners are pros at designing the menu, but they should allow professionals to handle their music selections to maximum impact with their guests.”

To create an eatery’s perfect playlist, Klevens starts by first understanding the restaurant’s intended vibe and their clientele, then he strategically chooses music that best creates that vibe and resonates emotionally with the guests. Menu items are often tied into the theme, which strongly ties into the music selections.

For example, Klevens works with a restaurant in New York City called Katra Lounge. The menu is Moroccan Mediterrean. “They wanted their music to reflect the Moroccan vibe but still be modern. We chose music such as Samira Saeed’s ‘Aal Eah’ and Rhany’s ‘un Mot De Toi.’ For a seafood restaurant called FISHBAR in Manhattan Beach, California, we play laid-back beach pop like Jack Johnson mixed with reggae favorites like Bob Marley.”

If You Can’t Afford A Pro

Review your demographics, determine who your target audience is, consider the variables we’ve discussed — menu, theme, day of the week, lunch or dinner, music tempo, and then choose a music playlist that best suits your needs. There are many online music services that will help you to play music at your restaurant. You can download music to iTunes, or add music to a playlist at places like Spotify and Pandora.

Pandora Streaming Radio for your Restaurant


Pandora plays musical selections of a certain genre based on the user’s artist selection. The user then provides positive or negative feedback for songs chosen by the service, which are taken into account when Pandora selects future songs. The service has two subscription plans: a free subscription supported by advertisements, and a fee-based subscription without ads.

Buy and Manage Your Music with Apple's iTunes Applications and iTunes Store


iTunes require an Apple ID in order to buy tracks online in the iTunes Store. You can listen to 90 second previews, and also browse by genre. You can explore music by genre on iTunes by clicking the drop-down triangle next to Music in the navigation bar and choosing the appropriate genre.

Spotify Music Streaming for your Restaurant Background Music


Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing digital rights management-restricted content from record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. Music can be browsed by artist, album, genre, playlist, or record label, as well as by direct searches. On computers, a link allows the listener to purchase selected material via partner retailers. In order to use Spotify, you’ll need to register for an account, and then download the Spotify player. With Spotify, you can easily search for musicians, or albums, and add them to your playlist. Unlike iTunes, with Spotify and Pandora you’ll be streaming music, not downloading songs.

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