The sound of music

16 Feb


Fingernails on chalkboardThe fact that music elicits emotion is old news. Massive investments in research time and dollars have explored both the therapeutic and consumer behavior applications of music.

If you work for a large company you might have little or no control over the music that pumps through your commercial spaces. In some cases, it may be so bland that you’re only aware of it around Christmas (the day after Halloween) when it becomes insufferable. Small businesses have all the music choices in the world. Some people shouldn’t have that kind of power.

Last week, I experienced three hours of pure auditory hell. The owner of the shop I was in had their personal iPod on shuffle. By “shuffle” I mean it was in the throws of an identity crisis and was committed to taking everyone down with it. No one in the room, including the long-suffering staff, knew how they were supposed to feel – other than incredibly anxious. The owner didn’t see that there was a problem and refused to change it or turn it off.

Consumer’s emotions are affected by their environment, and they evaluate their environment with their emotions. It makes sense strategically to understand what creates and sustains pleasant emotional reactions.

Pre-made playlists are out there. Grooveshark is a good place to start. Users can build their own play lists or combine pre-made playlists to make larger ones quickly. YouTube is another great resource.

The auditory experience of the customer often feels like an after-thought, but it deserves some more attention. How often have you left a space because of their awful aural environment?

Or how it smelled?

(Next Up: What’s your first impression of a retail environment?)

(Photo courtesy of


6 Responses to “The sound of music”

  1. Stef February 16, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    I completely agree! is another great site that allows the user to choose mix’s based on mood, genre, holiday, you name it! It describes itself as a “handcrafted internet radio.” Anyone can become a user and create music mix’s and tag the mix under whatever it may be described as. A picture and a short description gives the istener some more information as well. However the user may only skip so many songs brcause they have a music license agreemebt. I have recommended it to friends and they are all hooked, so check it out!

    Another point I wanted to make was the importance of music in the retail atmosphere. For my consumer Behaviour course I read a study conducted by a university exploring music in correlation to consumer buying habits ( when I return home, I will check to see if I still have the name and authors of the
    study saved). However the study found through imperical testing that music correlates heavily to consumers willingness to buy. More imporantly the match of the music to the nature of the store is key (match it to your target martket). The study also explored the
    importance of matching scents to the retail atmosphere as well.

    Again, great blog post. Couldn’t agree more.

  2. Stef February 16, 2012 at 9:36 am #

    Sorry about the enormous amount of typos! Writing my comment on my iPhone and proof reading on these things is quite tricky. ** listener, because, agreement **

  3. andmerson February 16, 2012 at 10:37 am #

    Great post Christie! I was just having a conversation the other day about the importance of smell in a retail space. It all comes down to customer experience and that although we put emphasis on visual appeal, we can’t forget the other senses too. Temperature, smell, noise, comfortable furniture selection… it’s all equally important.

  4. tribalstylemarketing February 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    This is so true! Many studies have been done to ‘enhance’ shoppers experiences. In order to get them to shop more & stay longer, certain types of music have more effect than others. I’d also recommend & tell ’em Dan LaCob sent ya!

    (Disclaimer) I have music in there, so I’m biased. They’re really affordable for SMB though. The musicians actually get paid as well.

  5. Christie February 16, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    Thanks for the recommendation Stef. I’d like to have an arsenal of options to give the play-list-challenged 😉 The idea of willingness to buy vs. buying habits is interesting as well. The study sounds like a good read.

    Overall customer experience is a really good point Andrea. Dan was telling me last night how his barber’s hands smelled like cigarettes and I jumped out of my seat and told him I was going to steal his experience for my next post.

    Bias or no bias, that site sounds like it’s worth checking out Dan. Musicians getting payed for their work? I’m in 🙂


  1. Unsolicited advice « PR Hot Air - March 16, 2012

    […] 3. Use your own experiences as inspiration. That sounded obvious, right? Well, you tell me how obvious it feels when you find yourself staring at that blinking curser on a blank word document. Experiences can be anything from a conversation you overheard on a bus (people say the darnedest things), to that time you flirted with a nervous breakdown while being bombarded by a playlist only Satan himself could have dreamed up (did it). […]

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