Adam Melrose is the Chief Playlist Officer at Control Play, and he works with both the creative team and subscribers to create fun, engaging, and specifically tailored playlists for restaurants, bars, and family entertainment centres.
“Playlist packs are groupings of playlists that we’ve created and curated specific to a theme, industry, or type of music,” Melrose says. Some playlists, he continues, are for niche markets, but the team at Control Play keeps them updated and available to any subscriber who thinks it would benefit their brand.
Each playlist pack in Control Play’s library is created, curated, and updated by the creative team Melrose leads. The software he and his team use also helps load playlists of various lengths with specific parameters as needed by the subscriber at any given time.
There are two broad umbrella terms for their subscriber base: restaurants or bars, and family entertainment centres. Under the latter, he says, is where the playlist pack variety broadens immensely; each sub-category of entertainment centre can and will have its own set of music.
“For the most part, the playlists load dynamically every single time, so to alleviate fatigue for regulars and the staff that are there every single day.”
Industries such as bowling, skating, and jump parks are some of the most predictable networks because they tend to have strict and regulated programs throughout the week. What they look for, primarily, are age ratings: “They’re easy to work with,” he says with a laugh. “They’re more so looking at what is the rating of the music, for the different times of day based on the age demographic.”
Control Play’s playlist packs are given age ratings, with some being given underage and adult variations for different time frames within the same industry.
There is a wide variety of packs, as well as the songs within similarly styled packs to help keep the sound and energy of every business Control Play works with unique and fresh. Both the subscriber and the customer must be engaged with the music regularly to keep both coming back.
“We get positive and negative feedback all day everyday. Music is one of the most subjective things ever,” Melrose argues. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, we’re hitting the mark, but we certainly love hearing feedback.”
Melrose’s team thrives on feedback. Their subscribers are across Canada and the States, meaning that demographics and geography can have major impacts on how different businesses view the same playlist pack.
Melrose offers a recent example, as a subscriber from Oklahoma asked for their gameday playlist to focus solely on the “good jock jam, party pop” sound over the hard rock music that was a part of the original list.
“I was able to take that subset of music that is dedicated to the gameday programs and say, ‘just give me the pop and dance music’. We were then able to launch a gameday pop playlist.”
With the wide net they cast, Control Play’s subscriber base spreads throughout multiple industries and venue styles, affecting which playlist packs see more plays than others. When business owners come to him looking for the right playlist – whether it’s for a late-night bar, fine dining restaurant, or a family bowling centre – he always asks of them this question: “What is the vibe you’re trying to go for?”
Sometimes there are playlists already available for what the owners want; other times, Melrose and his team will work closely with the owners to make the right playlist for the right industry.
Subscribers vary, he says, as some are very hands-on, while others find the packs they like and stick to them. But when he is given specific feedback on a song in a playlist or the pack in general, he and his team can turn it over quickly to meet the subscriber’s needs.
Their playlists are updated daily to keep everyone interested and involved. When creating new playlists, his team watches the music trends to make sure every business has access to the sound they want.
TikTok is another recent example Melrose offers for the creation of a new playlist, as they built a TikTok hits playlist. “That one’s really interesting,” he notes, “because the songs that become popular on TikTok, in some cases, haven’t charted in 40 years, or have never charted. We’ve been taking efforts there to make sure we provide relevant content.”
They can also look through the most requested and searched for songs and use those searches to create new and relevant playlists for any situation. Even when his subscribers don’t offer direct feedback, their music search history is a great place for his team to find out what kind of music people want to play right now, whether they’re searching for the most popular songs or some weird, hidden gems.
Personalization and customization are at the forefront of creating a good playlist. Different subscription levels allow business owners to make their own playlists through the software, though they can also chat directly with Melrose and his team and get them to build a playlist based on their own desired parameters.
Some people even come to him with their own Spotify playlists. “We have a tool that allows us to take that Spotify URL that generates a playlist compared to our library so those folks can maintain their playlist and personal Spotify account. For their business, it translates that information to a playlist on their player.”
Melrose compares Control Play’s collation of music and the creation of playlist packs to cable TV, where they are given the option to assign certain locations different packs based on their need.
“The pack situation was, if we’re moving everyone to Control Play, how do we still maintain all those roller-skating playlists for the roller-skating people?”
As they transferred to the more central and regulated software being used now, they needed a simple and fast way to send each subscriber the appropriate playlists.
“The best playlists are when people don’t even need to ask, ‘what is this music they’re playing in here?’” Melrose stresses. “In most cases, we need to keep it fun and familiar.”
When creating and assigning appropriate playlists, he considers the sequence of music for the time of day, expected demographic, and the vibe of the business. At its core, a playlist can be judged by how well it compliments the guest experience that the venue is trying to create.
“It’s the venues that understand that what’s coming out of the speakers is just as important as every other inch of the place that they design that those are the successful locations.”
Melrose paints a picture of a business owner happy with choosing Control Play: “When he or she is sitting back, or walking around their business, and they feel it is a happening place; the vibe is right, the cash register’s ringing, everyone’s excited, and the staff aren’t complaining about the playlist – which is one of the harder things to do – that they understand it.”
As a final note, Melrose comments on the quality that Control Play brings to the industry. Many new subscribers, he says, have owned their businesses for years, but they noticed how great the music was at nearby places, then found out who curated the playlists.
“We get a lot of referrals from folks at big major chains that use our service and they fell in love with it,” he says. “They just need to make sure Control Play is in there.”
Even searching “better music for my bar” or something similar has led people to their website, where, as Melrose puts it, something speaks to them, and the following conversations they get with Melrose make them see that the people behind at Control Play know their business and what it takes to be successful.
The idea of these playlist packs may seem simple, but when done carefully and thoughtfully, as Melrose does, they can refresh your business and flood it with new customers and previously unknown excitement.