Music is a powerful influencer on human behavior. When you use music in your store, you’re able to steer a customer’s thoughts and emotions in a certain direction, while influencing their browsing and purchasing habits. A short play list that repeats the same songs or artists over and over again can lead to negative thoughts and customer complaints, with a decrease in spending as a result.

How Repetition Effects the Brain

Upon first listen, we’re attracted by repetition. That’s why so many popular songs rely on musical devices that are similar. Our brains recognize these patterns and we feel a sense of accomplishment for doing so. As we become more accustomed to this pattern, we gain a sense of familiarity – and with familiarity comes comfort.

Familiarity can lead to a sense of bonding with the song or songs and a sense of loyalty with what the song represents. That’s why advertisers pick catchy tunes that breed a sense of familiarity. But as the cliché goes, familiarity breeds contempt. There’s a fine line between hearing a song enough to identify with it as opposed to hearing it enough for it to get on your nerves. When serving up in-store tunes, repetition can turn familiarity to contempt very quickly.

Additionally, when we become familiar with a song through repetition, it imparts the misguided impression that the item, brand or shop is common. When the same music makes the commodity familiar, we assume it must be so for everyone, thus lowering the perception of the value of your goods, services and brand in the mind of the consumer.

The third most important part of repetition and its effects on the average consumer brain are cues. Certain music makes us behave certain ways. When coupled with other stimuli (sight and smell, for example), we’re conditioned to act a certain way. That’s why a raging rock anthem can make even the most conservative middle-aged listener recall their rebellious days.

The Type of Music Matters

If you’ve ever been exposed to elevator music for an extended period of time, you might notice that your agitation level rises. But if you listen to a song you like while being on hold, you might find you simply can’t get enough.

The type of music you play in your store also matters. There’s no one-size-fits-all genre that positively influences shoppers, though adult contemporary was found to be the least offensive to the broadest selection of audiences. That’s not to say everyone studied enjoyed the genre, but that it had the least influence, positive or negative, on the attitudes and perceptions of shoppers.

Unless you know your target audience well, repeating music they dislike is going to get on their nerves quickly. You might find that customer agitation increases, rudeness is more frequent and people are in a greater rush to get out of your shop, whether they’ve purchased anything or not.

Variation is the Key to Happy Shoppers

Even if you know your target audience’s favorite genre, it’s helpful to vary the selection of songs and artists. This is why professional DJs get paid the big bucks for doing their jobs: they’re able to create a play list that creates a certain mood and blend it seamlessly into another tempo, feeling or genre without creating discord in the ears of listeners.

You might not be a professional DJ, but having a wide selection of tempos, messages and emotive content to choose from can serve you well. You might cue a customer into feeling nostalgic by playing a hair metal power ballad if your new line of clothing is a throwback to the 1980’s, for example. Follow it up with an up-tempo pop hit to spur them to action (spending their money) and leave them feeling satisfied with a familiar song.

Variation makes people think and keeps them from disappearing into their own thoughts; you want your customers to think about their purchases and be satisfied with their experiences in your shop.

The Problem with Music Sources

Sourcing music for a large play list with as little repetition as possible is tricky, especially for small business owners. Finding the right kind of music, at the right price, with the right license, can be an almost Herculean task at times.

Even if you have the best iPod on the planet, you still only have a limited number of songs to pull from during any given business day. In addition, even if you purchased the songs legally, they’re only licensed for personal use, which makes playing them in your shop illegal.

Satellite and streaming radio services are only licensed only for personal use. Other services offer a legal solution for shop owners but repetition is high and you have little control over what’s played in your store.

The solution is to contract with a service like Retail Radio that provides access to a large catalog of commercially licensed music that features user-friendly software that enables you to create and customize a song list to fit your needs.

The Cost of a Large Play List is Worth it

What are the odds that you’ll get caught playing music without the proper licenses? You might think they’re small, but any potential customer who walks through your doors might work for one of the major music licensing services. If your business is found playing unlicensed music or you’re found to use a streaming service not licensed for commercial use, you could face thousands of dollars in fines. If you’re a large retailer with the money to cover those fines, you might find that the publicity surrounding your illegal use of music tarnishes your reputation. The fines for playing just one song illegally are enough to potentially bankrupt a small business – it isn’t worth it.

Having access to a fully licensed catalogue of music and creating a play list from that can prevent  embarrassment, avoid a lowered public perception of your brand and the potential loss of revenue, clients and even your business.

The Solution to Repetitive Music

Overall, it’s important to know that a certain degree of repetition can be beneficial to your shop and brand – but It also has the potential to turn customers against you – quickly.

Sourcing legal, licensed music for commercial use is tough on your own, but with the aid of a service featuring a large catalog of licensed tunes and the software to customize your play list, you’ll avoid negative repetition without fear of breaking the law.