The atmosphere of your restaurant is a well-balanced collection of elements like lighting, aroma, textures, colors and music. While some of these are easy to implement, music can be difficult to get just right.
While it might seem less important, the music in your restaurant can often make or break the experience for your guests by covering up kitchen noises, setting the mood, and even affecting dining behaviors. Here are some tips for using music to help create your ambiance.
Picking the Right Music Style
When it comes to choosing the music, sometimes it’s an obvious choice—like an Italian restaurant playing old Italian standards. But sometimes a music pairing is not so clear. Try basing it off the qualities of your operation:
Tap into the essence of your fare. A restaurant with a French menu could play everything from 60’s French pop to modern day French jazz. Your regionality doesn’t need to dictate your music either. Classical tracks by a German composer would fit well in an upscale American steakhouse.
Older generations love hearing nostalgic hits of the past. Depending on your average guests, consider classics from the 50s through the 80s. Younger crowds will enjoy many of today’s hits, from mainstream pop to R&B.
Time of day
You may even choose to change your music based on time of day. A steakhouse in the morning might play cool and calm bossa nova, while the evening hours bring out Sinatra. Late night happy hours can use lively dancing music.
Where to Find Music to Play
Your playlist for your restaurant can be as simple as an album on your phone or computer. You can also stream from popular audio services.
However, if you choose to play songs by well-known artists on these audio services, you’ll need to purchase a license. Just like renting an outdoor tent for an event, you need to pay artists and their labels for “renting” their music. To get a license to play popular music in your restaurant, contact a performance right organization.
An alternative to playing licensed music is to use royalty-free music (similar to songs often heard in elevators and waiting rooms) that you can find across the web. But while these are pleasant tracks, they’re unfamiliar to guests who may want to hum along to the tunes.
Some Quick Tricks:
- Have a long reservation list but tables aren’t turning quickly enough? Playing faster-paced music will subconsciously get your guests eating and out the door more quickly.
- Alternatively, playing slower-paced songs will keep guests relaxed and in their seats, potentially ordering more off the menu.
- Keep your playlist long so that songs won’t repeat too often.
- Adjust the music volume based on the room noise—if the chatter is quiet, bring the volume down.