Summary of Inside the Booming Business of Background Music

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Inside the Booming Business of Background Music summary
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Some traditional retailers are trying to recapture profits lost to online sales by offering a richer experience to shoppers – complete with distinctive architecture, ambiance, lighting, and, of course, music. But make no mistake – this isn’t the Muzak that haunted the elevators of your youth. Companies like Mood Media and Music Concierge have elevated background music to an art form. Jake Huyler’s delightful Guardian article will guide you to phenomena that usually lurk just below our awareness.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How a 1920s invention led to the modern background-music industry,
  • Why destinations will pay top dollar for a playlist that reflects their style and
  • Why recording artists are more open to commercializing their music now than they typically were in years past.
 

About the Author

Jake Huyler is a writer based in London. He covers music, culture, arts and entertainment, and politics.

 

Summary

In the 1920s, George Owen founded a company that provided music to businesses, exploiting his discovery of how to transmit sound through wire. Renamed Muzak in the 1950s, the company published a report stating that using their music led to a “an 18.6% increase in production and a 37% decrease in the number of errors made by office employees.” While those findings may sound exaggerated, modern researchers can vouch for the idea behind them; music is powerful and can influence perception and behavior. Businesses have been trying to harness that power ever since. A 1997 study found that people were more likely to purchase wine from a particular country if music from that country were played in the background. In a restaurant with limited seating, playing something upbeat encourages people to eat faster, thus freeing up tables. Department stores want customers to linger, so “delicate contemporary classical and intimate vocals” might be in order. Airlines or hotels might also benefit from playing classical music, which heightens perceptions of quality.


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