Music for the Masses


Choice of music can improve guest experience and build brand loyalty

By Leslie Craig

Imagine walking into what was described as a “cozy and relaxing retreat” and being welcomed with upbeat music blaring from the speakers in the lobby — a mixed signal, which may leave guests questioning their choice of stay.

Music is an undeniable mood-setter and brands such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Molson leverage it consistently in brand-building efforts. But, you don’t need to be a big brand to connect with customers through music; you simply need to make it a priority.

An emotionally-rooted medium, music draws on nostalgia and emotion to quickly create connections with customers by establishing a comfortable ambiance. The hospitality industry can experience similar benefits by incorporating music into the guest experience. Whether it’s someone checking in at a front desk, entering their room upon arrival, enjoying a meal in a restaurant or hotel bar, or sitting down to enjoy a drink at the bar, music is integral to the overall experience of the customer.

The fall is a great time to consider how you are using music to complement — or even improve — a customer’s visit as Canadians look for ways to enjoy the fall colours and explore the country before it turns bitterly cold. The right music choices can mean increased traffic for your business as well as an opportunity to leave a lasting impression with this audience.

Just as it’s hard to measure the direct impact that heating has on the customer experience during the colder months — you’d be hard-pressed to find a hotel that’s willing to let their customers freeze — it’s difficult to quantify the benefits of music on business. But, it has incredible value and plays a vital role — making customer experiences more impactful, enjoyable and memorable.

In an effort to better quantify the value of music for businesses, we asked Canadian proprietors how the music being played in an establishment impacted patrons: 74 per cent said music is important to the customer experience and 72 per cent said music is important to the ambiance of their business. In addition to this, late last year, half of the businesses we spoke with said they would never stop playing music in their establishment, believing that their customers would complain if they did.

So, how are you using music to build rapport with your guests? Here are five easy ways you can integrate music into the guest experience and create greater customer loyalty as a result:

1. Evaluate the music you are playing and ensure it aligns with your brand as well as the needs and expectations of your customers.
Music needs to fit the brand and it’s an important ingredient to the right marketing mix. Ask yourself: is the music too upbeat for your brand, which is synonymous with rest and relaxation? Is the music too mainstream for your hip and trendy brand?

2. Play music that creates an appropriate ambiance for your guests.
Is the music in the dining room too distracting to encourage conversation? Is it too loud for the lounge area or too mellow to encourage dancing in the bar?

3. Consider places where music could amplify the customer experience.
Do you have music playing in your lobby while patrons wait to check-in or meet a friend?

4. Take into account any events or festivals that have brought visitors to the area and use them as inspiration for your music choices.
Is there a fall fair or holiday-themed market taking place that many of your guests are attending?

5. Don’t forget about your colleagues and staff. Ask them their opinion and be open to the musical tastes of others.
Are you playing music that appeals to you, but your staff and the anecdotal feedback they have from guests would prefer a different soundtrack for their stay?

This fall and winter, consider the music you’re playing and decide if it’s right for your customers. Adding music to your business mix is a win-win and provides yet another opportunity for owners, management and guests to connect.

Leslie Craig is the director of Licensing with SOCAN (the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada), a member-based and governed organization that represents the Canadian performing rights of more than three million Canadian and international music creators and publishers. SOCAN is proud to play a leading role in supporting the long-term success of its more than 130,000 Canadian members and the Canadian music industry overall. SOCAN licenses more than 125,000 businesses in Canada, and distributes royalties to its members and music rights organizations around the world. SOCAN also distributes royalties to its members for the use of their music internationally in collaboration with its peer societies. Eighty six per cent of music rights revenues coming in to SOCAN are distributed to those who created the music and their publishers. For more information, visit

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