Guide

What’s your secret sauce? How we choose good music to play in restaurants for your playlists

Music in Restaurants

For restaurant owners getting serious with their brand-fit music, with insights and tips from our music team on playlists, schedules, and reading the room. Service!

Posted on February 15, 2022

4 minutes read

Imagine opening up a menu at a place you’ve never been to before. There’s the favourites, the à la carte with exactly what you’d expect. Maybe there’s a tasting menu, promising a curated experience to show off the tastiest new ideas.

For both, there’s real design involved. Guests want to feel catered to. They want to feel that the experience they’ll get is a journey, not a stopover. It’ll be memorable, rich, maybe even surprising. It’ll be worth it.

Choosing good music to play in a restaurant is surprisingly similar to a truly great dining experience. You might not know what’s coming next, you just have to trust it, to go with the twists and turns, challenging, confirming and crafting someone’s experience.

In other words, whatever’s coming through your speakers should be getting as much of your attention as anything that comes out your kitchen.

What does music for restaurants even look like?

Especially for restaurants, you’ll want to have options for peak and off-peak hours, a little vintage nostalgia, some classic jazz spinners and maybe some location-specific sounds if you’re showcasing food from different corners of the world.

You’ll need enough music so no one gets bored, with enough control and oversight to make it fit your brand. And it all needs to be legal.

The good news? Choosing the best music for different businesses is what we do. We make sure it’s all curated, balanced and made to fit. We’ve put the full pitch here, if you want to go straight to the sales and stats.

There’s 53 ready-made playlists for restaurants when you get into your account, all curated and refined using our secret sauce. They’re customizable, so you can always take control and add in something specific when you want.

But where should you start?

Before you press play, the Soundtrack music team put together a quick list of things to check, to make sure your music design is as solid as the rest of the experience.

Tips from the Soundtrack music team

1: Consider all the ingredients

First off, music should match your restaurant’s concept. It’s not quite as simple as making sure French cuisine doesn’t come with a side of Mexican mariachi - there’s often a lot of nuance here. And remember, your diners will have to listen to whatever you’re playing for at least the length of their meal.

Alf Tumble Borgman, Curator and Music Supervisor for Enterprise clients at Soundtrack: “A guest arrives at your restaurant with certain expectations. An oyster bar in the Scottish countryside will have a different atmosphere and should have a different sound than an oyster bar in London, for example.”

Play music that fits your brand, rather than your personal or your customers’ taste. Be consistent.
Alf Tumble Borgman, Curator and Music Supervisor

“Is your brand sophisticated and forward-thinking?” asks Jenny Seth, who’s been a Music Supervisor at Soundtrack for six years. “Then go for some elegant modern music.”

A Soundtrack playlist like Late Night Dining or Elegant Lounge can work here, serving up tasteful, new music that still has some energy to it.

Is the brand more straightforward and traditional? Then your music should sound just like that. The music should fit the place, just like your interior, your staff, your lighting, your marketing communication, your logo, your menu.
Jenny Seth, Music Supervisor at Soundtrack

Hits of the 80s or Feelgood Oldies always go down well here, and inside your account we highlight exactly what’s the most popular restaurant playlists each day.

2: Serve it while it’s hot

Avoid repeating the same songs. Your guests might not hear a song coming back around later in the night, but your staff will. Keeping things new helps motivation and morale.

To get started and see how Soundtrack makes this a breeze, try creating your first Station. It’ll prompt you for keywords to get started, and you’ll have a 600 song playlist ready to go immediately. You can keep adding keywords to create all kinds of combinations, whatever best suits you.

3: Trust the service

It’s easy for us to say, we know. But it’s our number one tip - trust your music service to do its job, and do it well.

All the available songs and how they’ve been categorized, that’s all come from a combination of our AI and music experts. They put the manual work in to make sure what ends up on your playlist is relevant, appropriate, and optimized for business spaces.

Behind the scenes, there’s a lot at play when deciding what we put in our mixes. For example, too much popular music in the charts actually turns off your customers, compared to playing lesser-known songs. It’s a drop in sales as high as 9% in some cases.

“We follow playlists, tastemakers, charts, and artists, consuming music news and keeping up with the pop music discourse,” Jenny says. “We constantly discuss and redefine genres, sounds, and other musical concepts in the music team.”

As Soundtrack's Head of Music Magnus Rydén adds, “Put your brand in focus and remove your own musical taste.” We couldn’t have said it better.

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