Merchant Blog

Blog Article: The Role of Music In Customer Retention

Your small business goes through many optimizations in the pursuit of swaying a customer to come through the door and make a purchase. From the advertising strategy to the signage to the placement and arrangement of products or messaging inside a retail location, these small elements coalesce to influence a customer’s psychological patterns. One of these elements, and one that is overlooked by many small businesses, is the choice and playing of music.

Hundred Waters - Author's own photo

Nicole Miglis, Hundred Waters – Author’s own photo

This very blog has looked at the effect of music on workplace productivity in a previous post. However, playing music in a place of business is also a major influence on customers. But did you know that in order to broadcast music in your business you must obtain a license? Under the Copyright Act you are required to pay a license for broadcasting that music, whether it is as background music in your retail store, a live act in your bar, hold music on your phone, or as part of an advertising campaign. Radio stations are exempt from this rule: as a result, digital streaming services like Spotify and satellite radio providers such as XM and Sirius are often chosen for their diverse content and lack of commercials. However, these services often have subscription fees of their own that do not support artists directly in the fashion of a SOCAN license.

The licensing process is administered by SOCAN, or the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada. Different fees apply to different types of businesses and depend on the degree to which the laying of music is integral to your business. A nightclub, for example, would pay a higher fee than a store using music as a background element.

So, once you’re licensed, how can you go about crafting the perfect playlist for your customers? The wrong music will actually detract from the environment and have a negative effect on it more so than if nothing were played. The right choice of theme or style, even as a subtle background element, speaks to the demographic of your ideal customer and reinforces the aspirational or conceptual framework of themselves that they are building by choosing to be a patron of your business. If you cater to a specific demographic or interest, play music that appeals to fans of that particular scene. Music can relax, inspire, act as a buffer for privacy, or reduce the awkwardness of waiting. This is cause for any small business owner to reflect on their customers’ “personas” and make decisions based on what they find!

Getting people in the door is a challenge for any brick and mortar small business, but an appropriate musical background may be key to influencing their decision to return. Musicians are businesspeople in their own right, and getting their songs played and recognized in the wider world helps benefit their livelihood as much as it does the livelihood of your business. If there’s a final reason to convince you to update your small business playlist, if properly licensed, it’s to consider a gesture of solidarity to other hardworking proprietors!



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