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Music in Restaurants: What Music Selection Should You Go With?

Posted by Andrew Durbin on 10/4/17 8:00 PM in Industry News & Trends

4 minute read Print

music in restaurants

Music is a part of everyone's life.

So, naturally, music in restaurants can impact someone’s dining experience a lot

Let's go over some music hacks your restaurant can employ to drive business and create an unforgettable restaurant experience. 

Music in Restaurants

During the course of a guest's dining experience, there are many factors that come into play. This includes table design, restaurant ambiance, and - you guessed it - music.

Not only does the type of music played matter, but how loud the music might be or to what degree it plays into the mood also matters. 

Before thinking about playing music in a restaurant, make sure you’ve set up the proper system so that the music you play is licensed and that all of the artists are being credited properly. (You can check out our previous blog A Crash Course in Restaurant Music Licensing Laws to make sure you’re in the clear before you get an unsuspecting knock on your door one day.)

But let's get back to the actual music played in your restaurant. While everyone in the restaurant may have different opinions on what should be played, how loud it should be, and when music should be played, these decisions truly come down to the owner and their vision for the establishment.

If you are looking for more insight, here are some tips. 

1. The Mood

Choose a genre of music that is appropriate for how you want guests to feel based on the type of restaurant you have.

There’s no reason to be blasting loud rock music in a small, French-themed coffee shop just because “Mark” who opened that morning was in the mood for some Metallica. Keep it simple and play something nice and acoustic or light jazz.

music in restaurants

We spoke to a couple restaurants using Toast to see what they did to help music preserve their restaurant's mood. One bakery likes to play music that’s light, upbeat, and family-friendly. One restaurant in Nashville loves to keep the mood of the city alive, so they choose to play country music and feature live bands to stay true to the spirit of ‘Music City.”

It’s important to keep in mind how the music makes you feel and think about how the customer feels hearing it.

2. The Volume

Choose a volume that is fitting for the time of day but also for the activities going on within the restaurant.

This means that throughout a day or an evening volumes may change depending on the feel of the room. If you offer dinner early on in the night and then switch to more of a nightclub feel after a certain hour, it might be appropriate to adjust volumes accordingly.

restaurant music

You also want to be considerate of where you place speakers around your establishment to make sure there aren’t certain seats guests dislike sitting at because they have to yell at each other to hold a conversation.

One Toast customer we spoke to who runs a bakery and dessert bar says they “vary the style and intensity of the music based on the time of day” in order to keep a good atmosphere.

3. The Consistency

Choose a playlist or station that is consistent and doesn’t vary with the type of music they play. The last thing you want is calm, soothing music turning into loud, bass-heavy songs.

Having a selection of playlists to choose from also helps you know what you’re going to play on a given day and eliminates a last-minute decision to just “put anything on.”

music in restaurants

One Toast customer we chatted with makes good use of this by playing alternative music until 10 p.m., but afterwards, anything goes, because the restaurant changes to more of a nightlife scene. A theater company in Alabama we spoke to loves to keep showtunes playing during intermission at their shows to keep customers happy and engaged in the production of the night.

It’s always important to be aware of the situation and mood in a room before setting up a soundtrack to accompany it.

What's Your Restaurant's Music Choice?

At the end of the day what music you put on all comes down to the mood and feel of the establishment and what the owner/operator has in mind, but you always have to keep the customer in mind to keep them happy.

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Written by: Andrew Durbin

Andrew Durbin is native of Massachusetts but grew up around the world traveling to many different countries. He is currently in his fifth and final year at Northeastern University where he studies Economics and is pursuing a minor in entrepreneurship. Andrew is very passionate about fashion and music so in his spare time you can find him out shopping or at a concert around Boston.


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