Background Music Strategy

10 Minute Read

How to Choose the Best Music for Restaurants

by Ryan Santangelo, Ph.D., Co-Founder & CEO, Dynamic Media

music for restaurants

It’s no secret that music plays a big role in setting the mood for any occasion. This is especially true for restaurants, where the right music can create the type of relaxed and welcoming atmosphere that drives sales and keeps your guests coming back.  

However, with so many options available, it can be hard to know which music is the best music for restaurants. Beyond that, how do you know what kind of music will create the mood you want? And what do you do if you don’t know anything about music?

We’re here to help. This article will call on our 20 years in the restaurant music industry and walk you through everything you need to know about choosing restaurant music that will delight your guests and your dazzle bottom line.  

best music for restaurant

Why the Right Restaurant Music Is Important

Your restaurant’s concept is what gives it an identity and separates it from every other eatery on the block. For that reason, background music for restaurants must compliment your concept. The restaurant music you play throughout the day is equally as important as your staff, decor, atmosphere, and food.   In an ambitious 2016 study by HUI Research, researchers analyzed close to two million transactions from 16 well-known chain restaurants. The study found that restaurants with a carefully selected restaurant music playlist catered to their customer’s demographics can increase revenue by more than 9 percent. In another study, more than 2,000 restaurant guests rated how brand-specific restaurant music and a random selection of tunes impacted their experience. According to the results, guests’ satisfaction and well-being increased exponentially when they listened to a curated restaurant music playlist that fit the restaurant’s brand compared to random popular music.  When choosing music in restaurants, owners and general managers should always select a genre that matches their demographics.

Keeping the Right Volume Enhances Customer Experiences

    Finding the right restaurant music that matches your brand is just one part of the overall experience. Volume is also essential in maintaining a positive atmosphere that your guests will enjoy. You should keep your restaurant music at a decibel level that is pleasant for your customers and employees. In most eating establishments, the noise level (including ambient sound) should not exceed 70 decibels. However, more vibrant bars and eateries can keep the volume between 75 and 80 decibels and still maintain a degree of comfort for their patrons. The big thing to keep in mind is you should always pay attention to how your guests interact with the music in your restaurant so you can adjust the volume level when needed. 

    The Effects of Loud Restaurant Music

    Regarding background music for restaurants, it’s been found that louder music tends to drive customers out of their seats faster. How you use this knowledge depends on what type of restaurant you run. If you’re a fast-casual restaurant, you may prefer to turn tables faster and make room for other guests by increasing the volume of your restaurant music during peak hours. However, turning tables with loud music in restaurants also has some drawbacks. In another study, researchers found that playing louder restaurant music can lower a person’s appetite, as customers aren’t able to perceive taste as well. Guests may order less food or not enjoy the taste as much in the presence of loud music, reducing the likelihood of returning in the future.  This means restaurant owners and managers must strike a delicate balance of the music volume in restaurants. The best music for restaurants can encourage guests to eat faster without creating a negative experience and reducing ticket amounts. 

    SiriusXM Music for Business Can Help You Find the Best Music for Your Restaurant

    When you need the best music for your restaurant, look to SiriusXM Music for Business. Our music streaming services for restaurants are the perfect solution for any restaurant owner or manager looking to perfect their ambiance and atmosphere for customers. With 240+ stations of commercial-free music and over 10,000 Pandora playlists, there’s something for all your demographics. And, because SiriusXM is a professionally licensed business music service, you’ll never have to worry about complex licensing laws or ads. Don’t leave your restaurant music up to chance – start streaming with SiriusXM Music for Business today.  

    Understanding Speed and Tempo Can Help You Curate Your Restaurant Music Playlist

    The pace of background music for restaurants also substantially impacts how customers eat and drink. Focusing on the wrong speed could have different impacts on experience, even if you play the right genre, volume, and mix. The following are a few eye-opening statistics regarding customer behavior and music for restaurants:
    • Customers chew their food nearly 30% faster when hearing up-tempo music, decreasing eating times and increasing table turnover.
    • Men buy more drinks and drink them faster when listening to up-tempo music.
    • Customers increase the average ticket size of their bill by 23% when listening to slower music. On average, these customers bought more drinks and other add-ons like dessert and coffee that typically carry high-profit margins for restaurants.   
    So what does this mean? If you prefer to get more people in and out of your restaurant quickly, you can focus your restaurant music playlist on face-paced songs played at a louder volume. On the other hand, if you want to entice guests to order more high-priced food and beverages, like a vintage bottle of wine, the music you play in your restaurant should be softer and down-tempo, such as classical music.
    Determining what you want to achieve with your restaurant music will help you reach your goal faster and select the right speed and tempo. Additionally, you may want to use both techniques to achieve different purposes throughout the day.

    Music for Restaurants Can Be Curated to Fit the Time of Day

    To summarize the past two points, dining establishments can benefit from playing restaurant music with a slower tempo and lower volume to achieve higher sales of high-priced items. They can also maximize sales by improving the table turnover rate by playing slightly louder music with a faster tempo. But another critical aspect of background music for restaurants is matching the music with the time of day. This is known as dayparting: scheduling your restaurant music to play different selections throughout business hours to generate the most appeal.  

    Early Mornings

    Playing energetic and high-tempo background music during early hours probably won’t please your customers. Play something more relaxed and calming for breakfast to help your guests wake up naturally during their meal.

    Lunch and Early Afternoon

    For the lunch rush and early afternoon hours, slightly energetic, light, and fun tunes are great options as music for a restaurant. Lunch hours, especially on weekdays, are prime for business meetings or friends catching up with one another. Your guests should be able to have comfortable conversations during these times.


    After working hours, your restaurant will be more popular with individuals coming to catch a drink after work and take a break from their day. Or, depending on your establishment, it may be a popular choice for families not cooking for the night. At dinnertime, you can try to change the music you play in your restaurant to match your desired ambiance. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and think about what you want to convey. Classic rock and jazz restaurant music playlists are often great choices. And, if you’re open late, playing upbeat music can keep your customers entertained and encourage them to stay and spend more.   

    SiriusXM Music for Business Helps Fine-Tune Your Restaurant Music With Ease

    SiriusXM Music for Business is the ultimate restaurant music streaming platform. When you subscribe, you’ll get access to over 240 channels, over 10,000 Pandora artist stations and carefully curated restaurant music playlists to ensure you’re always in control of your music. Our easy-to-use dedicated streaming player makes it easier than ever to find and play the best music for restaurants of all types. You can even take full advantage of SiriusXM Music for Business’ advanced features like scheduling and channel blocking for more control over what you play, all for $26.95 a month. Learn more about SiriusXM Music for Business today.

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