Why Playlists Matter in Restaurants and Bars

Music has a lot of power in the spaces we find ourselves each day. In our cars, at the grocery store, even when you’re on hold with the bank—music plays everywhere and produces different effects in each space. When it comes to restaurants and bars, music is much more than a common nicety, it’s a defining factor of their brand, atmosphere, and guest experience.

Most venues have music of some kind playing in the background, however, all too often there’s very little thought behind it. The place might even have a great selection of music but flipping on the “shuffle” switch and letting it play randomly just isn’t enough to make an impact on guests throughout their stay. In fact, playing one random song after can make the experience feel disjointed and irritating at worst, and underwhelming at best.

If you really want to wow people in your venue, you need an engaging sequence of songs that flow logically from one track to the next. You need to target the music demographically and cater the vibe to different crowds that come and go during dayparts. You need the power of the playlist!

When done well, playlists have the power to dictate the mood of guests, exciting them or relaxing them, lifting their spirits and encouraging lively social interactions with friends and family. There’s probably a good chance that you’ve uttered the phrase, “this place has some great music” at least once in your life. It adds that extra bit of impressive quality to the guest experience that people really appreciate.

People go to bars and restaurants with certain expectations regarding their experience there. Hopefully the food and drink will be good—that’s usually the main idea. But people tend to want to come back again when their experience was better than expected.

In today’s hyper-competitive food and beverage industry, your venue needs to differentiate itself in order to survive. This means your goal isn’t to merely meet customer expectations, it’s to exceed them. When people come into a restaurant or bar that features a consistently impactful music experience—on top of great food and service—they take notice. They recognize that the atmosphere was built for them and they’re far more likely to want to make that location their regular, go-to spot.

The game changers of the food and beverage industry are ones who focus on and perfect each detail that relates to guest experience. When it comes to the music aspect, they understand just how much it shapes the ambiance and establishes expectations from guests on what their visit will be like. They know what types of songs need to be played for each daypart and demographic they see throughout their open hours. And they know that dead air is a death sentence for the vibe they’ve established.

The perfect playlist takes time to build, however, as each song needs to work with each other and transition in a way that makes sense. Each track is like a bass player in a band, if they’re doing their job right, you may not even notice, you'll just enjoy the sound. But if they’re out of sync and disjointed, they stand out like a sore thumb in a hitchhiking competition.

Of course, not every owner/operator has the time and resources to sort through every song, build perfect playlists, review them, and keep them updated. That why Control Play has an entire team of professional Music Mixologists who work tirelessly to handcraft the perfect music experience for the different brands we serve. This team is dedicated to understanding the specific needs of the foodservice industry and what mixes can really impact guests. Each song is rigorously considered for how it fits in each list and with each theme. They work with our software to create in and out points on each track that never allow for dead air because they understand how a lack of transition management would negatively impact the energy of any playlist.

If you’d like to learn more about our service and how we’re dedicated to wowing guests with innovative playlist experiences, talk with one of our Business Development Representatives today. If you’d just like to talk about music or get some more playlist-building tips, we’re happy to chat about that too!

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Kevin Avram

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