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5 trends shaping in-store music services

Posted by John on January 7th, 2013


Background music has evolved considerably from elevators and dentist offices, yet many businesses haven’t kept pace. They’re still using music services, delivery methods and equipment that are years old. Here are five trends for any business (restaurant, hotel, retail store, health & fitness clubs, etc.) to consider when evaluating their music service.

TREND #1 – Internet Streaming
The old method: Background music has been delivered over FM radio; beamed to satellite dishes; shipped to stores on reel-to-reel tapes, cassette tapes, CDs, and DVD music discs; shipped on computer hard drives; and downloaded overnight onto local computers.

The new trend: Live streaming over high-speed Internet connections. With the spread of DSL and T1 Internet connections into businesses, the Internet is being used as a real-time music delivery system.

Streaming advantages:

  • Playlists no longer need to be small and limited with the same songs played in a loop.
  • Changes to the playlist can be made quickly – no need to wait until the next scheduled update.
  • Internet music licensing rules allow for more songs and artists to be played than with many of the other delivery methods.
  • Internet audio quality has been greatly improved through greater bandwidth and better encoding by some music providers.
  • A music channel can take up very little space, often less than 100kbps, leaving plenty of room in the Internet pipe for other business uses.

TREND #2 – Less Repetition
The old method: Playlists were often small to accommodate the delivery system, such as how many songs could fit on a tape, a disc or be downloaded in a short time; or because more songs couldn’t be licensed to play; or because music services could get away with giving customers small playlists. Small playlists resulted in high repetition of songs and artists aggravating the employees who had to wait until “the next scheduled update”, often only monthly or quarterly, to hear a fresh mix.

The new trend: Bigger playlists with less repetition of songs and artists. With more music now being created than at any time in history, playlists are growing. Businesses are asking for bigger playlists which leads to customers loving the music during the time they’re shopping or dining; and employees loving the music hour-after-hour, day-after-day while they’re working.

TREND #3 – User Control
The old method: Remember turning on the radio and hearing songs you didn’t like, then hearing them again, and again? Changing the channel was about all the control one had. Music-for-business was like that, too. You could pick your channel, but not pick the songs.

The new trend: Personalization has become popular with many products and is now an option in music-for-business services. Driven by the popularity of iPods and Pandora, people are asking for more choice and more control of the music mix in their work place. Owners and managers want to be able to adjust the styles and add-delete songs themselves as they create their one-of-a-kind music mix. The user is gaining more in control.

TREND #4 – Better Sound Quality
The old method: Few people paid attention to sound quality. The music was truly “in the background” with songs that were average so the audio wasn’t really important. Speakers were average, often no more than a megaphone speaker.

The new trend: Music-conscious businesses are paying more attention to the sound in their space. The volume is being turned up so that music isn’t just for background – music is an obvious part of the atmosphere, mood and brand. Now, with Internet-delivered music services instead of satellite or discs, music can have presence and punch, not sound thin and compressed. Consequently, the audio quality has improved. Speakers are being upgraded, too.

TREND #5 – Branded Messaging
The old method: Businesses could play a music service with no talk or interruptions, or play the FM radio and get talk and commercials along with music.  No opportunities for audio branding, messaging or personalized announcements.

The new trend: Branded messaging between the songs to enhance the audio experience. A business now has the ability to insert messages, promotions, and greetings between the songs, targeted to in-store shoppers, at each location. With messaging voiced by employees or voice pros, customers can be reminded about the brand, the products and the customized channel that’s not a satellite service.

Is your business keeping up with the latest trends in music services?
To keep up with the best practices and new technology for in-store music and music-for-business, please contact Custom Channels. Our in-store music is streamed over the Internet with superior audio quality; we have less repetition with our fully licensed, huge music libraries; and we offer popular options such as branded messaging and user control.

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