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Enhance Dining Experiences with Music for Restaurants

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Justin GuinnAuthor

Restaurant owners and operators primarily focus on the taste of their offerings and quality of their service and rightfully so. Though there is another often overlooked restaurant aspect that can greatly impact guest dining experiences — the music played at the restaurant.

The right music for restaurants varies depending on the type of service, desired ambiance, and more. 

Read on to explore how music can benefit guest experiences. Learn when to lean on different options, such as curated playlists, radio, and live performances. See how to pick the best music solutions, such as music services, speaker systems, and more. And understand the commercial rights and customer experience-related considerations to keep in mind.

Considerations to choose the right music for a restaurant’s ambiance

Restaurants thinking about adding or updating their music need to assess their cuisine and culture customs along with their brand personality, values, and target audience. 

There’s nothing wrong with giving guests the classic Italian music they expect while they enjoy a hunk of lasagna. On the other hand, an exciting Italian-fusion restaurant doesn’t have to exclusively play Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin — nor does a restaurant with pan-latin influence need to have music with a latin flare.

Fine dining and more exclusive, expensive experiences may want music with a more classic or elegant style — or no music at all. Trendy, counter-service restaurants could provide a more personal touch with their music selection.

Time of day can also be a factor for restaurants deciding between the type of music to play. More mellow restaurant background music may be most appropriate during breakfast and brunch hours, while faster tempo music cold be better suited for evening and late night services.

It is essential to remember that music for restaurants is not just about playing any popular or trendy songs, but rather creating a cohesive and authentic experience that reinforces brand identity.

Setting guidelines for music for restaurant staff

One of the most overlooked aspects of background music is the contribution of your staff. 

Encouraging employees to play their own playlists or favorite songs during preparation or cleaning can create a positive and lively atmosphere in the kitchen, which can translate to better service and mood.

It’s important to set guidelines and ensure their background music is not intruding onto the restaurant music or distracting for your customers' conversations or dining experience. 

It could be beneficial to invest in proper speaker systems that distributes the music evenly throughout the back of house and in the restaurant.

Thinking through the best systems and solutions for restaurant music

The easiest music solution for a restaurant is a streaming service and speaker system. Streaming services provide most every music genre and music library that any restaurant could need. And a restaurant music playlist capabilities make it easy to curate a consistent vibe or vibe change when needed.

A more complex option is to hire live music or DJs. Live performances can add a unique touch of energy and entertainment to dining experience, especially during special occasions or events. DJs, on the other hand, can provide a curated selection of songs that match the vibe and mood of the restaurant throughout the night. And Hiring local musicians or DJs can also help build and strengthen community.

Live music or DJs may not be feasible for all restaurants, especially small or casual establishments. There’s a separate music system required that needs someone to manage it throughout the performance.

What to know about commercial use for restaurants

It’s crucial to understand the commercial rights and legal considerations when it comes to using music for restaurants. 

Playing music without proper licenses or permissions can result in significant fines and legal issues, as songs and recordings are protected under copyright laws. The three main licensing organizations for music rights are ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC, which collect fees from businesses that play copyrighted music and distribute the earnings to the songwriters, publishers, and performers.

Operators can obtain a licensing agreement to ensure the can legally play any song from the licensing organization's catalog, which comprises millions of compositions and recordings from various genres. 

There may also be additional agreements needed for performing rights organizations for live music. The last thing you want is to pay a penalty for having a good time.

Use music to find your brand

Music for restaurants is not just background noise or entertainment — it is a fundamental aspect that impacts your customers' overall dining experience, from their mood to their behavior to their loyalty. 

Operators can choose to incorporate live music, DJs, or curated playlists, and also create a positive and lively atmosphere with staff and kitchen music and proper speaker systems. 

However, restaurants must make sure that the music aligns with your brand personality and customer preferences. 

Good luck capturing the soundtrack your brand exudes with the right music and ambiance. In doing so, restaurants can stand out and create a memorable experience that resonates with guests.

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DISCLAIMER: This information is provided for general informational purposes only, and publication does not constitute an endorsement. Toast does not warrant the accuracy or completeness of any information, text, graphics, links, or other items contained within this content. Toast does not guarantee you will achieve any specific results if you follow any advice herein. It may be advisable for you to consult with a professional such as a lawyer, accountant, or business advisor for advice specific to your situation.

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