The owners of more than nine out of 10 bars, clubs and bars say playing music creates a better atmosphere for their customers – and 71 per cent believe it makes staff more productive. These business-boosting benefits have been revealed in a survey published by music licensing organisations PPL and PRS for Music. It builds on research carried out by PRS for Music with CGA Strategy that found that live and recorded music in bars and pubs added an average of £667 to takings on Fridays and Saturdays.
Vicky Williamson, a music psychologist at Goldsmiths, University of London, confirms that a bar without music would create a negative effect on customers. “Bars, pubs and clubs function to allow social interaction, and music has been part of human social interaction for as long as records exist,” she explains. “Without music there would be no dance and no singing, behaviours which allow us to bond and express unity. Music can also bring back happy memories of similar nights out, and therefore subconsciously boost mood.”
The MusicWorks research was part of the mission to promote music in public places by PPL, which collects revenue from music licences on behalf of record companies and performers, and PRS for Music, which represents the rights of songwriters, composers and music publishers. Each year, PRS for Music runs the Music Makeover competition, with a prize of £5,000 for a bar or pub where the licensee has the greatest desire to tap into potential for live music. This year’s winner will be announced after Christmas. Christine Geissmar, PPL’s director of operations, says: “We know that playing music has huge benefits and we are keen for as many business owners as possible to understand how cost effective and beneficial playing music can be.”
Music can even have an impact on how fast people eat. A study in the Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society found that when lively music was being played in a restaurant or bar, diners took an average of 5.1 bites per minute while without music it was 3.9 bites per minute. The faster consumption led to requests for second helpings. “Background music is essential for enhancing the customer experience and creating the right atmosphere,” points out Toby Hoyte, marketing manager for Soundnet, which supplies audio and visual content to bars, pubs and clubs. It can put together bespoke music and video compilations for venues that reflect their individual identity. “Our expertise and experience means that we know which types of music work best in a range of environments.”
There are several high-tech solutions available for providing music in bars, pubs and clubs. This year, CoverJock introduced Barjock, an automated DJ “with a personality”. For just over £5 a day, licensees can select the voice of a top British or American DJ to act like a “live” DJ alongside bespoke streamed music – all faded in and out as a DJ would. It can also include announcements such as last orders, promotions and upcoming events. “Our customers love that Barjock offers them the choice of some of the very best club DJs’ voices from North America, Europe and beyond at a price that is very cost-effective for them,” says CoverJock chief executive Neil Charrington. “The addition of full video support has been also tremendously well received with customers automatically streaming music videos, in multiple different technical formats, to TVs around the bar in sync with the music, the DJ and their own personal promotions.”
More than 50 major leisure and retail brands, including bar and restaurant operator Mitchells & Butlers, work with Imagesound to enhance customers’ experience through music. The company specialises in all aspects of audio-visual design, installation and maintenance alongside a sister company, Music Styling, which provides music consultancy to top-end hotels such as W Hotels.
With an extensive music library, Imagesound’s experts work closely with operators, whether a small business or an international chain. Every day, a unique playlist is created from a library of tracks agreed, tailored for different times of the day – and with legal rights taken care of. The download player runs from any Windows-based PC or a till system. “We strive to understand our customers and design music profiles suitable for specific times of the day, occasions or national or local events, all in line with the brand guidelines,” explains Imagesound’s sales and marketing director Tim Hull. “Music can help customers connect with the brand. Our role is to translate the brand values into music.”
Case study: Lucky Voice
A karaoke party room for up to 20 people forms part of new bar The 3 Monkeys in Balham, south London. The Monkey Lounge has a touchscreen playlist manager, a 40-inch high-definition screen and two microphones as well as a disco ball and lighting, party props such as wigs and guitars and a “Thirsty” button for ordering drinks. The system, which also allows playlists to be built online in advance, is “powered by” Lucky Voice which, as well as running its own karaoke bars, provides systems to other operators.
The Lucky Voice Enterprise software and hardware solution for karaoke rooms has been updated since it was first introduced. Rigorous testing in the company’s own Lucky Voice bars, means they are constantly ironing out bugs and making improvements. The latest additions include a “make song last” feature which helps to wind up the end of a session so that customers do not feel the fun has ended too suddenly. “Changeovers between groups have become more efficient and the overall customer experience much better,” says Franceska Brown who looks after business development at Lucky Voice. “Our software enables venues new to karaoke to take advantage of our years of operations experience.”
Smaller chains and individual bars can buy the software and either use other off-the-shelf hardware or invest in Lucky Voice’s own industrial-grade bespoke PC and touchscreen. An ongoing monthly licence fee covers song updates, software maintenance and any new features, with discounts for multiple pods. “Venues can skin the software to their brand or use the ‘Powered by Lucky Voice’ brand to pull in customers who know and love what we do,” Franceska adds. Venues using Lucky Voice systems include Bunga Bunga in Battersea, London.
At the same time, the company continues to work with Novus Leisure on a franchise agreement for Lucky Voice pods at Tiger Tigers around the UK and has just opened its fifth karaoke site within Tiger Tiger in Leeds.
With Leona Lewis booked to perform at London members club Annabel’s (pictured), the owners decided to get a new loudspeaker system. Sound engineer Steve White of the club’s audio provider Patchwork London selected a KR200 system from K-Array, distributed in the UK by Sennheiser. It was recommended by Leona’s front-of-house engineer, Dave Wooster, who knew it would be ideal for the venue’s compactness and low ceiling.
“Leona performed a completely acoustic set featuring a band comprising backing vocals, piano, acoustic guitar and cello, the balance and nuances of which were perfectly reproduced by the KR200,” Dave says. It was hired from audio rental company Capital Sound but Steve decided to buy the system for Patchwork, going on to use it at Annabel’s for performances by Paolo Nutini, Paloma Faith and Beverley Knight.
Originally published in the December 2012 edition of Bar magazine.