The Custom Channels Blog

The Effects of Music and Sound in Business

Posted by John on April 20th, 2010

There are four ways that sound effects us, according to Julian Treasure, business sound expert, chairman of The Sound Agency and author of the book Sound Business.  He believes that our relationship with sound is largely unconscious.

1. Physiological. Sound effects breathing, heart rate, brain waves.  Pleasant and unpleasant sound effects us physically.  Alarms or ocean waves, relaxing music or crazy loud rock, our bodies react to what we hear.

2. Psychological.  Sounds can change our mood for better or worse.  Music is the most powerful sound that effects us psychologically. Good music put us in a better mood, whether shopping or at home.

3. Cognitively.  We have small amount of human bandwidth to process all of the sounds that coming at us.  Productivity decreases greatly with unwanted sound.  Good music positively effects an office staff’s work output.

4.  Behavioral.  We move away from unpleasant sounds and move towards pleasant sounds.  Sales in retail stores decreased by 28% because the sound in the store was inappropriate.  Good music positively effects behavior of staff and clients.

Here’s a surprising observation:  a few minutes of bird sounds is good for humans. Over time humans have learned that when birds sing, it’s safe.  When birds stop singing, there’s danger.  So singing birds ha a calming, comforting effect.

See Julian Treasure’s 6 minute presentation on the “4 Ways Sound Affects Us” below at TED, “Ideas Worth Spreading”.


Julian Treasure, Business sound expert and speaker
Chairman of The Sound Agency
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