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Is Your Music Style Consistent or Inconsistent?

Posted by John on July 19th, 2016

There’s a restaurant I’ve been to quite a few times, mid-priced broad range of America fare, and recently I realized that the music style was very different each time I went. It really struck me when I heard all Country music playing one day at this restaurant. I asked the owner (who doesn’t know I work for a music company) what was up with the music. “It’s Wednesday, Country Day,” he said. Huh? “We always change our music and on Wednesdays I like to do Country,” he said.

Ah, that’s why I’ve heard a wide range of music genres at this restaurant from soft rock to Classic Rock to contemporary pop – not mixed together but continuously playing only one style.

Putting it in restaurant terms, I assume the owner views changing the restaurant’s music mix daily is like having a food special of the day. Fish & Chips on Fridays and Country music on Wednesdays. Or “since we change the lunch and dinner specials each day why not change the music?

Music genre wheel
An interesting concept. Is it a good idea? It might keep the employees entertained or keep them guessing. It might make the customers pleasantly surprised or slightly annoyed. Whether one likes the music that day or not, it probably won’t sound the same on their next visit. And while they might promote “Fish & Chips on Friday” they don’t promote “Country background music on Wednesdays.”

What it means to me is that this restaurant can’t decide on an audio brand. It doesn’t know its soundtrack. A restaurant wouldn’t serve only pizza one day, only tacos the next day and only seafood another day. So why vary the music styles so widely? Sure, there might be a unique salad special along with the regular menu. But when the entire playlist (the music menu) shifts to a different genre, it changes the entire attitude and atmosphere of the restaurant. That’s not a subtle change.

When Inconsistency Might Work

I’ve had the same music changing experience at a coffee shop. One day it’s all twangy classic country from decades ago, the next day it’s trendy down beat chill music, and another day it’s hard edged rock that’ll wake up everybody quicker than a caffeine jolt from a triple espresso. Maybe I expect it more from the baristas at a coffee shop to play music that suits them at the moment, never satisfied with yesterday’s genre choice. But the same theory can apply that this business can’t decide on an audio brand; it doesn’t know its soundtrack.

I’m for consistency. Give me the same general style of music mix with a fresh playlist every day that stays updated. Be consistent with the rest of the store’s brand, products and atmosphere.

You may be for inconsistency. Shake it up. Give the customers an ear opening dose of creativity each time they come it. Surprise them. It might work if the brand is built on that concept.

There’s no right, there’s no wrong, with this idea of a different music genre every day. There’s only what works best for your store, your restaurant, your business. Just be consistent, even if that’s being consistently inconsistent.

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