Music in store

Understand the challenges of sound marketing

Overview of music at the point of sale and the possibilities offered

The revolution in uses


As we know, music has been undergoing a revolution over the past ten years or so, and it has been happening on several levels.

 First of all, the way to get music, thanks to streamingAs the over-thirtys know, it used to be necessary to go to a record store or a specialized store to buy physical media – vinyl, cassettes or CDs... Today, it is just a click away to listen to albums or playlists.

Then, the situations during which music is consumed: the Sony Walkman - the first truly portable audio device - appeared in 1979 in Japan, but it was only with the emergence of the first small music players such as Zune or iPod, then with the arrival of smartphones with increased storage capacities, not to mention the high-speed mobile Internet connections that music has become available at all times, and it should be added here the evolution of broadcasting rights.

 Today, Bluetooth speakers deliver relatively deep and balanced sound at prices everyone can afford, and in the past, a similar system delivered spitting and unpleasant sound.

 Thanks to technology, it has become possible to make music without having to go through years of learning the instrument and music theory, a midi keyboard, software, quality sounds and the trick is played, even the recording equipment is relatively affordable, a digital console costs a hundredth of what analogue consoles used to cost, and the result is that the musical offer has never been so important - even if the quality is extremely variable.

All these elements, by modifying production, broadcasting and the way music is listened to, exercise a profound impact on the role that music can play in marketingAn impact that includes both positive and negative elements to be taken into account in the customer experience. 

The challenges of sound marketing


For marketing and communications managers, music is frequently considered a secondary and unimportant element, yet it is known that a large majority of consumers listen to music: according to a 2014 Nielsen study, 93% of the American population regularly listen to music, up to 25 hours a week; another study conducted in January 2015 by Sonos in several countries, including France, shows that 50% of people who listen to music do so at home while 28% do so by car and 12% by studying or by car.

Hence the question: is it beneficial for a brand to distribute music in stores?

Various studies have measured the impact of sound marketing, and generally show that customers prefer a store with a musical atmosphere to a store without a sound environment in which only the sound of voices and the clatter of cash registers are heard.

Some brands do not have to broadcast music

In France, some supermarkets refrain from diffusing a sound atmosphere, preferring to leave the consumer in a background noise and cash drawer that evokes an atmosphere that is uncomfortable for the ear.

In June 2016, the English brand Marks & Spencer announced that its 300 points of sale in Great Britain would now do without music. The main reason? Customers complained about music that was too repetitive, worthy of an elevator. Marks & Spencer's choice was also the result of the actions of a pressure group, Pipedown, whose website indicated that its members were in horror". background music, canned music, elevator music"Today, at Marks & Spencers as in other English brands, music is absent.

Is it a good choice? checkout studies show that consumers are divided: those who spend very little time in the store tend not to pay attention to music, especially in small areas, while in larger Marks & Spencer stores, consumers tend to spend more time and would prefer to hear music, but this is not true for all brands: if Marks & Spencer offers some fairly high-end products or branded as such, Tesco does not.

Important characteristics


The case of these British brands is interesting because it touches on two important elements: the repetitiveness of the music, and the perceived quality.

First, repetitiveness: In a world where everyone can have access to millions of tracks, how can you be satisfied with a few dozen songs? some in-store sound solution providers offer limited packages of 500 tracks; since you have to count about 150 tracks a day, after 3 days the store will have gone around the playlist; even with a few more tracks, it is inevitable that repetitions will occur at regular intervals. Customers feel it and so does the sales forceespecially if the playlists always run in the same order.

However, quantity is not necessarily synonymous with quality: some streaming platforms offer several tens of millions of tracks, if you listen to songs all day long 24/7 all year round, you would only be able to hear 150,000 songs, at this rate it would take 66 years to listen to 10 million songs, so in a store, once you have defined what you want to play, you only need a few thousand songs.

A brand atmosphere must therefore be composed of a large number of tracks in order to minimize repetitions, but without excess, and must also be composed of always different playlists: from one day to the next, from one week to the next, and the titles must not be played in the same order, so as to create an always different atmosphere.

Does this mean that a good musical atmosphere must be composed of any song? In other words, it is better not to play any music at all than music that is unsuitable for the brand, and the choice of music is very important.

But then, how can we define what music adapted to the brand is? This is all the more important because if you choose a very distinctive playlist, then the music played in stores may eventually prove incompatible with the personal tastes of customers.

This objection is in fact unfounded because it goes against the fundamentals of modern marketing: marketing a product or service is not only about providing customers with what they expect, it is also about providing them with a unique value proposition, likely to meet expressed or undiscovered needs; or even undiscovered needs; it is of course about avoiding deploying music that does not match the brand: to caricature, you will avoid hard-rock in a children's clothing store, or the jazzy lounge in a trendy retail outlet

The advent of the customer journey

Since the advent of e-commerce, marketing no longer works in one direction only, from the brand to the customer, through a funnel or "funnel" that was based on a limited number of points of contact between these two actors: from now on, we speak of customer journey: it is all the moments when the customer is in contact with the brand during the process that leads him to the purchase decision, this customer journey consists of a high number of interactions between the brand and the customer, especially through social networks, but also through video channels,

While the message can be adapted according to specific demographic criteria, or other factors that may play a role in the customer journey, it is essential for the brand to maintain a differentiating identity, especially since today's society is based more than ever on criteria of identity - i.e. identification - and belonging.

Brand identity criteria

As we know, brand identity is based on coherent communication elements: colours, typographies, visuals, perfumes, sounds, when you think of Benetton visually, green comes to mind, when you think of Coca-Cola, it is red, when you think of Ikea, you inevitably think of blue and yellow, in each of these examples that can be infinitely declined, the brand does not expect the consumer to like green, red or yellow and blue. The logos from memory ": if you are like most people, you will achieve less satisfactory results than you could imagine!

This is why the brand's communication and marketing will have to rely consistently on a wide variety of elements that will all participate in the conversation: lighting, POP, store layout, digital signage, sales force clothing… However, if these elements are designed to attract customers, they must also affirm a set of values – an identity – which will allow the brand to differentiate itself.

The role of music as a marketing element

But how to define exactly what kind of music to play? choosing a playlist for a brand is not as simple as choosing a visual for a poster... Defining a playlist is a bit like choosing one by one from hundreds of visuals for hundreds of posters... Except that it is even more complex... There is indeed a wide variety of musical styles, rhythms, musical colours, moods... It is therefore a question of selecting precisely one

Be careful not to entrust the management to the client

This is one of the reasons why we must avoid placing ourselves on the consumers' market and give them the choice of music to play without supervision, by giving them the possibility of selecting the next song to play from a vast musical catalogue, when the customer is in charge of your sound marketing, you make the brand take a risk. some professional solutions thus propose kinds of jukeboxes that allow customers to change music according to their personal taste. Music Admix has a different approach, by allowing to modulate the types of music to play according to cursors: if your radio

In a benchmark conducted by Ecoutons Pour Voir with customers, a hotel manager stated that he was obliged to remove customer access to the playlist editing function because a private customer enjoyed listening to hard-rock at breakfast: throughout his stay, this customer made other consumers' stay uncomfortable; the idea of allowing customers to control music in the hotel themselves from a tablet was a good idea, poorly implemented: the supplier could have provided different playlists, all of which could have been used to control the music from a tablet.

Peacefulness is priceless


This activity requires particular expertise: specialists in playlist creation must have a huge musical culture in a wide variety of genres, a keen knowledge of differentiating elements such as the rhythm, colour, warmth and sound of a title, but also an ability to understand how to integrate and translate the brand's marketing brief into a specific issue: a ready-to-wear brand, a wine and spirits chain, a brand

This is obviously the fundamental role of a professional service provider such as Ecoutons Pour Voir with its Music Admix in-store music solution Music Admix is above all a content carefully chosen by specialized DJs, who are able to aggregate together different quantities of music to create a specific panorama according to the needs of the customers and the identity of the brand, which is what makes the main difference between the music broadcasted by a pro platform like Music Admix, and the music broadcasted by mainstream platforms like Spotify or Apple Play. 

What is the difference between pro services and consumer platforms? 

Why do professional sound marketing services cost more than consumer services?

Imagine the case of Mr. Martin, who attends a presentation of Music Admix, the pro music platform marketed by Ecoutons Pour Voir, an imaginary case inspired by real facts as our sales teams regularly experience them.

Mr. Martin is a young franchisee who has just invested considerable sums to establish two stores in a high-potential area, and when he looks at the question of the musical atmosphere in his points of sale, the solution seems obvious to him: "I already use a streaming service at home, which gives me complete satisfaction, it's easy to use, and I put on the music I like. It's simple! I'll take an additional subscription for my second store, all for less than 20 euros per month".

The answer lies in two words: "legal risk".

As Mr. Martin knows, each establishment welcoming the public must pay the SACEM, which collects the rights relating to authors and composers, before paying them back, a tax that he will scrupulously pay "I have already filled out the papers", he thought; reassured.

But what he ignores or chooses to ignore is that there is another category of rights that must be paid and do not concern artists: the rights of producers of the phonographic work, i.e. publishing houses – the "Majors", including Sony, Warner Music, and many others, which collect rights for the use of the music they own, the principles for calculating these rights are complex and depend on the nature of the media used and how the titles

Consumer services are also subject to these fees, but the calculation base for private use is different from the base for use in retail outlets or public places, simply because for the latter there are many more people exposed to music, and it is precisely because of this important difference that streaming consumer music providers such as Spotify, Amazon, Apple Music, Google Play and others, add clauses in their general conditions that specify that only personal or private use is permitted, as shown below

  • The first supplier clearly refers to non-commercial use:". We grant you a limited, non-exclusive and revocable license to use the Service, and a limited, non-exclusive, revocable license to have personal, non-commercial use for the purpose of entertainment of the Content ».
  • The second supplier mentions in these general conditions that "theAccess to the Service is possible on a personal computer via the Site "It is not said by name that you cannot use this personal computer in a commercial place, but good luck with this argument in court if you are controlled.
  • The third supplier is as clear as the first:" you may use the Services and Content only for personal and non-commercial purposes »

As we can see, these clauses are rather specific: the use of music on these platforms must be exclusively personal, so any store broadcasting music from a mainstream streaming platform is outlawed.

 In practice, what is the risk if we use consumer streaming platforms in a commercial environment?

To be honest, not much: the majors of the record industry do not have police powers: controls are not numerous, and most often concern large retailers, as it would be difficult to exercise control over independents, so the risk is lower for a coffee owner, than for a franchisee or a branch, but it is not impossible for majors to set up more efficient control teams, as is the case in the United States.  

The legal risks are real: in the event of a breach, legal action can be taken which can be extinguished if an agreement is reached, or legal action can be taken, which usually results in the payment of considerable sums based on the number of points of sale and the period in question.

Is it reasonable to take such a risk?

It is a matter of business choice: the fact that a company operates legally is not based on the probability of eventual control, but on the decision of managers to manage in accordance with the rules; to broadcast music from a mainstream platform is to be outside the law.

Our customers like Mr. Martin most often understand this quite easily and sign a contract with Music Admix for their stores, they were convinced they were in good standing; because they had not read the general terms and conditions of the consumer service they were listening to at home, when they adopt Music Admix they get peace of mind on this side, and that is something that is priceless.

Music, a fundamental value of the atmosphere and brand image

As we have understood, music plays an important role in the consumer experience: it is a question of having a solution that is easy to use and adapts to the different configurations encountered in stores, but above all it is a question of distributing a playlist adapted to the brand, through quality content chosen by sound marketing specialists.