Music is an important ingredient to any hospitality business, particularly when considering the way customers perceive your business.

Hospitality venue owners spend hours of their time and millions of dollars on venue fit-out, aesthetics, beer systems, wine lists and styling – all essential elements in getting the finished product right, but music is often overlooked.

The music played within a venue has many effects: it helps determine the type of people who frequent a venue, it affects their behaviour and it helps them make a sub-conscious decision about whether or not they’ll come back. Music genre, volume, length, tonality and tempo all affect a person’s experience inside a hospitality venue and are measures that can be finely tuned to ensure success.

Music can be used to differentiate two otherwise similar establishments by producing variations in their atmosphere and allowing operators to attract different types of customers. By further tailoring the music played, you can influence the way customers behave. This is an important message for pub DJs; unless people are visiting a venue just to see the DJ, they should think about what they play as it decides how long people stay and how much is spent.

Studies have confirmed that in restaurants there is a significant difference in average spend depending on the music being played; one study concluded that classical music leads to higher spending when compared to pop or no music.

Positive effects of music aren’t confined to hospitality. Further studies have confirmed that popular background music causes people to shop longer and potentially spend more. This is why music needs to be understood as an important business tool and used to drive patronage and spend per head.

Music’s positive vibes don’t stop there; the United Kingdom’s music industry claims (supported by research) that music lifts employee morale. According to surveys from 1,000 small to medium-sized businesses across a range of industries, 77 percent of respondents claimed that playing music increases overall morale at work and enhances the office atmosphere. So next time an employee asks for an afternoon fix of the Smashing Pumpkins, you may want to happily comply – try their 1995 release, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.

Australian live music
According to the 2011 National Live Music Research Study conducted by Ernst & Young, live music in Australian pubs, bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs entertains more than 41 million patrons a year and contributes $1.21 billion as well as almost 15,000 full-time jobs to Australia’s economy.

The study examined the value of live music from a venue’s perspective and the figures demonstrate its significant contribution to the Australian economy. The industry also attracts strong audiences with the report finding that 41.97 million patrons attended 328,000 venue-based live music performances at 3,904 venues across Australia in 2009/10.

Data like this demonstrates the need to protect the industry. At the moment in Western Australia, two Perth based institutions, The Bakery and the Fly by Night Musicians Club, are facing possible closure. In Melbourne, iconic live music venue The Palace closed its doors for the last time in May following a buyout from Chinese property developers. Established in 1860 and one of Australia’s longest running live music establishments, the site will reportedly become an apartment block. Nirvana, on their one and only Australian tour, played The Palace in 1992.

If you want to improve the bottom line of your business and your customer’s perception of your business – you need to embrace music. The results of studies, proof of further customer spending and the contribution live music makes to the Australian economy should be reason enough to get on board, if you haven’t already.

AUTHOR Bradley Woods