Entertainment: Music To Your Registers

With many bar and nightclub operators still struggling in what remains a tough economy, it’s important to ensure every aspect of your business is profitable. One area you may have overlooked when seeking out new profit centers or drivers is your music.  Exploring the different options available to obtain music and looking to create a signature sound for your operation is one way to differentiate your venue from the competition and also keep patrons in your venue longer.

Music delivery options include jukeboxes, CD players, cable and satellite systems, MP3 players and computerized systems; each has its pros and cons, although digital options are becoming the norm.

If you decide on a computerized system, you'll next need some scheduling software to manage your music and to create your playlists. Look for software that will load your playlists automatically throughout the day and evening while offering many auto-scheduling features.

"We work hard in hand selecting every song we play at each of our concepts,” says Missy Combs, director of entertainment for the Southern California chain of Baja Sharkeez venues. "We use the MegaSeg software and Macs at all of our locations."

Major restaurant and hotel groups worldwide are developing signature sounds for their venues. Creating a unique guest experience is a priority. Such areas as lighting levels, scents, colors and more are not just left to chance. Music is also a top priority in sensory branding.

“Music creates an emotional connection to the dining experience,” says David Tripoli, managing partner with Truluck’s Seafood, Steak and Crab House, located in La Jolla, Calif. “The volume of our music is set to buffer conversation from table to table, which is extremely important.”

That alignment of music and environment is an important element for operators to consider. Studies have shown that restaurants that play music high in beats-per-minute (bpm) experience faster table turnover. Slower music translates to lower table turnover. You need to decide what suits your venue and your clientele, as well as your table turn goals.

Now that you have the tools in place, what music will you play? First, let’s determine who exactly you want to cater to and their age range. This may change throughout the day and evening, so you’ll need to keep the clientele for each day part in mind.

In a sports bar, for example, the music should become more current as the evening progresses but don’t eliminate the classics completely. Think in 20 to 25 minute sets, and program music to cater to everyone who may be in your room during each set. The percentage of old vs. new should skew accordingly as the night progresses.

Unless you have a vast music knowledge and access to thousands of songs, working with a professional organization to develop your signature sound might be a wise choice. Music styling companies and music designers are a new and developing resource that can create custom music programs and playlists specifically for your location. Their expertise can be invaluable in taking your business to the next level.

No matter how you approach your programming, don't be afraid think outside the box when it comes to your music selection. A unique style of music that might be worth exploring in creating your signature sound is referred to as chill out. This exotic, worldly and sexy style can be heard in many finer hotels, Martini bars and other upscale venues catering to a sophisticated demographic. Highlights from this genre include Thievery Corporation, Gotan Project, Air, Zero 7 and Morcheeba.

Finally, if you’re leaving the decision of what music to play to your staff or customers, it’s time to rethink that strategy. Improving your music can be one of the keys to attracting a great crowd and keeping them in your place longer, two things that go a long way toward keeping your profits pouring.

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