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Did you know that the type of music playing in a restaurant can influence how much money guests spend? I speak the truth, if you pick the “right” music for your restaurant, studies show that guests will spend an average of $2 more per ticket. If you’re serving about 100 tables a day, then that’s an extra $200. Which amounts to an extra $6000 a month. Which is an extra $72,000 a year! Let’s dive a little deeper into the psychology of restaurant music and the steps you can take towards finding the style(s) that fit your concept.

Music or Silence?

Record PlayerStudies show that music tends to have a significant impact on whether or not a person decides to approach or avoid that restaurant. Up until the first appetizer arrives at the table, “it’s all visual and aural,” says Bill Chait, restaurateur behind LA’s Short Order, Picca, Sotto, Rivera and Playa, among others. He concludes that guests consider the music a demonstration of whether or not the place is a good fit. I’m willing to bet that you’ve based a dining decision on the music you heard playing in a restaurant before. Playing music is always the better choice; as long as it fits your concept. I’ll dive into this idea of having a “sonic identity” more deeply below.


Genres: Drake or Beethoven?

DrakeWondering what genre best suits your restaurant? According to an article in the Restaurant Equipment Blog, “Depending on the target demographic for your restaurant, the music being played should complement the atmosphere”. Figuring out the best playlist/station should rest on your atmospheric goal and who is actually coming in your doors on a regular basis. My best example is Byblos Bar & Hookah Lounge right here in Providence. They consistently play rather loud Middle Eastern techno that never stops. They have hit the nail on the head because they attract a younger college crowd that enjoys camaraderie who don’t want to spend too much. The up-tempo music leads to a faster meal and quick turn times so they can get more and more guests in and out the door. Byblos is creating a completely cultural experience for their target audience; you feel like you’re partying in Lebanon the moment you step inside.


Tempos: Fast or Slow?

CocktailMusic evokes emotions within the listener, and in the restaurateur’s case, his or her guests. If you own a sports bar, “slow” music may not be the right fit as you want the energy to stay elevated. But if your restaurant’s atmosphere is conducive to the slower jams (fine dining, cigar lounges etc.) studies show that people dining with slow music playing will spend about the same on food but up to 40% more on alcohol as compared to up-tempo music. The slower tempo music makes guests feel relaxed and in no rush to leave; finishing your meal and sitting for a few more drinks feels natural. According to an article in Thrillist, “When you mix that with alcohol, it becomes a powerful tool to make memories with, and potentially keep people coming back to your bar or restaurant”.


Creating YOUR Sonic Identity

LogoRemember, when a guest walks into a restaurant, the music sets the tone for the dining experience. Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music etc. are all solid platforms from which you can create playlists based on genres that fit your atmosphere and the taste of your typical guests. If you’re having trouble picking the music that is best for your restaurant, there are companies like Prescriptive Music or Muzak by Mood Media that can lead you in the right direction and create fully customized playlists for your business. The ultimate goal for the restaurateur is to find music that will, “stir the senses, stimulate the sales”. Where do your DJ skills stand?

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