Background Music for Retail Stores: 5 Tips for Selecting the Right Music

Music for retail stores

For any business owner looking for solutions for streaming music, now is the time to fine-tune your brand’s audio and music experience identity. Here are a few quick tips on how to choose the right music and play it legally.

Posted on February 15, 2022

Complementing the familiar shopping ritual with the right in-store music can improve customer experience and help you define a brand identity that keeps shoppers coming back.

But while choosing the right background music for your retail store is important, staying compliant with music licensing laws is also essential.

 A music streaming service for businesses, like Soundtrack Your Brand, provides access to over 100 million songs licensed for shops, provides more than 1,200 playlists or lets you customize and create your own, that can boost retail sales up to 10%.

What’s Brand-Fit Music All About?

Just as much as the decor, lighting, and merchandising plays a massive role in creating the atmosphere in your store, well-chosen, brand-fit background music for retail stores is central to cultivating the ambiance you want.

The right music attracts and makes shoppers stop and take a minute to feel welcome and soak it in.

People’s relationship to music has definitely gotten more important. And there’s few things that can be so comforting as a good song.
Magnus Rydén, Head of Music at Soundtrack Your Brand

It’s no wonder. Music is the first thing you notice, the initial indication whether you’re in the right place when you step through the door.

From today’s top 40 hits to old school hip-hop, from uplifting instrumental music to chill-out Bossa nova, few things can set the ambience as well — and be as reassuring — as the right musical experience.

Our sense of hearing is closely tied to memories.

The right music, such as Christmas carols on a brisk December afternoon or retro pop hits on a summer night, can connect a retail environment to powerful memories and immerse us in nostalgia.

Surveys show that 83% of American shoppers connect with background music in retail stores. The percentage goes up to 91% for customers aged between 18 and 24.

Further, customers who like the music they hear in a retail business are more likely to shop for longer and even recommend the store to a friend. In fact, a Canadian study found roughly 33% of shoppers will stick around for the tunes.

How background music influences shopping behavior has been studied for decades, but it’s still an underdeveloped channel for customer engagement. Some businesses make the mistake of not investing in background music at all, or often get it wrong.

Today, with a resurgence in some brick and mortar retail spaces, it’s more important than ever for shopping environments to find the right music solution — not only to maximize brand exposure but also to be part of what’s relevant, engaging, and experiential.

5 Background Music Tips for Retail Stores

We’ll get into the tips in a second. First, it’s good to ask why music should be part of your brand strategy at all.

Simply put, customer needs have changed.

Are consumers staying loyal to a brand, or prioritizing convenience, availability, good value?

A 2020 McKinsey report revealed that over 75% of U.S. consumers tried new shopping behavior during the reporting period.

Chart showing percentage of consumers that tried a new shopping behavior

Image Source

While global events in 2020 necessitated significant changes in shopping habits, the lingering effects of this shift have affected not only retail stores but also grocery stores, restaurants and bars, pharmacies, and other establishments.

We’ve all become more mindful of how and where we choose to shop and buy, eat, and drink.

As business owners, that means a major potential opportunity to define your store’s presence and messaging to an increasingly mindful public.

This leads us to our first tip:

Tip 1. The music you play should always match your brand

Anyone who comes into your store has an expectation of the atmosphere they’ll walk into.

Whatever music you play should mirror the qualities your customers are subconsciously checking off.

Does your space feel comfortable, is it safe and familiar, or is it innovative and new? Is it what they’d expect from your advertising, merchandise or what other customers say about you?

If you own an alternative clothing store and your target audience tends to like alternative or progressive rock, it would be out-of-place to play soft, coffee shop-style jazz or new-age music.

Likewise, if you own a family-friendly craft store, a shopping music playlist that includes heavy metal likely would not match your brand.

Tip 2. Don’t make random choices with your music

Once you’ve found a style of retail music that matches your brand and connects with your customer demographics, stick with it.

Consistency is crucial to help customers stay comfortable and encourage them to stick around until their shopping is finished — and to keep coming back.

If your customers are vibing to Celine Dion and Michael Bolton, sandwiching in “Hypnotize” by Biggie Smalls could be jarring and alienating.

Similarly, if you’ve been pumping up the jams with Technotronic, Sonique, and Jamiroquai all afternoon, throwing in a power pop or country track could bring the vibes to a screeching halt.

The proverbial record scratch.

Soundtrack Your Brand’s curated playlists are built on this principle. Through our app, you can jump straight into genres, sounds, moods, and mixes based on your brand sound — and your customers’ favorite artists.

Each of the keywords you select adds more nuance, brand personalization and custom curation in seconds.

Every song on our 1,200+ ready-to-go music playlists are designed by our music team. Our music service offers thousands of possible artist stations, and a variety of combinations that can be created from the custom keywords you choose.

Discover instant, optimized, and brand-fit music for retail stores within a couple clicks.

Tip 3. Automate what’s playing and when

Once you have a few playlists that work for you, try out our drag-and-drop scheduling feature that will give you one less thing to worry about throughout the day.

Plan what will play in your store, or across all of your retail shops, in advance.

Match different playlists to meet various vibes and dayparts, such as morning, afternoon, and night, or adjust what’s playing where in your store.

The Soundtrack Your Brand app provides control at your fingertips and takes a lot of the manual effort off your plate.

This lets you track and control everything while focusing on the more critical aspects of running your store.

There are enough hats to wear without having to add DJ to your job description.

You can choose to take a hands-on approach to managing your store’s soundscape, automate everything, or give employees privileged access to what’s playing.

Whoever you select to put in charge of the playlists can change things up in just a few clicks.

Tip 4. Always keep it fresh

Updated playlists maintain customer attention and keep staff engaged.

Customers don’t want to hear the same song more than once while they’re perusing the aisles of your store.

And your associates will thank you for not inundating them with the same 20 tracks each week.

Fresh playlists engage return customers with something new, while maintaining a consistent feel and image.

With Soundtrack Your Brand, your playlists are regularly refreshed with current releases and new playlists each month.

A majority of business owners play the wrong music, at the wrong place, at the wrong time - so the potential for improvement is huge. But we’re here for the ones who want our help.
Magnus Rydén, Head of Music at Soundtrack Your Brand

Tip 5. Cover your [legal] bases

Music licensing can be a complicated landscape.

Many retail business owners are unaware that they can’t play music from Spotify, YouTube, or other consumer streaming services. 

Unfortunately, these music streaming platforms’ terms of service limit users to personal use only.

For purchased music libraries on iTunes, or streaming music from a TV or YouTube, it’s a similar situation.

Using any consumer music platform without proper music licenses can expose businesses to fines or lawsuits.

Additionally, you need a public performance license that covers all background and overhead music you play in your store.

This means that no matter which artists you play, or which types of music you choose as the soundtrack for your retail business, legally you can’t use your personal streaming service for your business — or play any music without licenses that cover all the writers involved.

For each song you play in your store, the rights are likely held by songwriters represented by multiple performing rights organizations (PROs). These four PROs operate in America:

In Canada, the performing rights society is SOCAN. In other countries, these organizations are known as CMOs (collective management organizations).

If you don’t secure the proper licenses for the songs you play, you risk being fined by these organizations.

Ready to get started?

See how Soundtrack Your Band works for you and your store, while likely saving you money and eliminating the costly risk of being fined.

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