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Music & Entertainment

Not Just Background Music

April 17, 2009 By: Michael Harrelson Night Club and Bar Magazine


Music is a must in any hospitality setting. Whether it’s a busy bar or restaurant, a laid-back lounge or a high-energy club, the music programming serves a critical purpose: engaging the guest to stay and spend. The “soundtrack” of the space can serve to slow down or speed up the pace of a guest’s stay, infusing it with energy or imparting a soothing vibe. Music can also signal to a customer that he’s in the right place or it can turn him away.

Indeed, studies show that playing the right combination of music at any establishment where guests have come to relax and enjoy themselves contributes to overall customer satisfaction and the likelihood that the guests will come back.

In short, whether generated by a band, a DJ or a pre-programmed playlist, music is a mood-creator and a money maker. And the house that truly seeks to get the jump on the competition would do well to give the good vibrations that trigger a customer’s natural instinct to stay some serious attention.

Specifically in programming playlists, operators can control the dynamics of a guest’s visit.

Music is always on the menu at Jack Astor’s, a restaurant and bar chain with nearly 30 locations in Canada and two in the United States. Dave Barton, a regional director for Jack Astor’s in Toronto, ranks music up there with food, specialty beverages and service in terms of its importance to the Jack Astor’s brand.

“We choose different types of music for lunch, dinner, evening and late night,” Barton says. “We are all about the environment. We want high energy and fun, and music plays a huge role in that.”

With 10 years experience in planning the music playlists for seven Jack Astor’s locations in Canada, Barton says he does not have to take a written survey of his own guests to know that the music programming is working for a given store location.

“We can gauge its success by the reaction of guests and the energy levels of the space,” he says. “We have guests asking, ‘Who is that? I remember this song.’ You can see it in their body language and also in the spirit and energy of the employees.”

Although there are many ways Barton could spend the several thousand dollars he allocates to music programming each month, he says the money is well spent based on the return it nets for the house.

“I would say it creates that energy and party environment that helps you sell some product and keep the guests longer.”

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