Why Do Businesses Play Music?

By SiriusXM Music for Business

Background music for businesses like malls, restaurants and grocery stores is so ubiquitous today that we sometimes forget this wasn’t always the case. While the earliest form of music for businesses appeared in the 1930s, playing contemporary pop and other commercial music wasn’t popular until the early 1970s. In this article, we answer the question, “Why do businesses play music?” by looking at the past and present of in-store music.

music for shopping malls

A Brief History of Background Music for Businesses

At the beginning of the 20th century, coin-operated phonographs and audiophones were developed that allowed patrons to choose between a few select records or cylinders and listen to music. Playing music in a business was still a few years away as these systems were limited and bulky, existing mostly in small, dedicated music parlors and nickelodeons.

The Early Years: Muzak and the Jukebox

By the 1930s, the company Muzak began producing original background music for businesses that was sold for commercial use. The company was the first known business entity to produce exclusive music for businesses. Much of their music was arrangements of classical music and instrumental recordings of popular songs. It became so popular that “muzak” became a generic term for the style of music the company produced.

Around the same time, the development of the jukebox brought music into nightclubs, speakeasies, soda fountains and bars. The early jukebox was large and cumbersome, consisting of only 8 to 12 records at a time. By the late 1940s and early 1950s, they became a staple of playing music in a business and a symbol of burgeoning teen culture.

The 1950s — 1960s: Expansion and Stimulus Progression of Business Music

During this period of time, retail store music and music for shopping malls started moving into offices and other work environments. President Eisenhower became the first U.S. president to play muzak in the White House. NASA even used it in outer space!

This kind of background music for businesses reached a peak in the 1960s with stimulus progression. Muzak began experimenting on workers by manipulating the style and tempo of their music to increase worker productivity. They would begin with a slow, easy listening number and then progressively speed up the music and add more instrumentation. Playing music in a business environment this way resulted in increased worker productivity (but also got the company accused of brainwashing).

Present Day: Music Streaming Takes Center Stage

Muzak faded in popularity and was steadily replaced by playing the radio, CDs and other forms of popular music until the early 2000s. Music in business settings became more accessible than ever with the advent of streaming technology. Music streaming services, like SiriusXM For Business, gives companies access to licensed music on multiple devices, including their computer or mobile device.

The Effects of Background Music for Businesses

So why do businesses play music? Now that we’ve gone through the history, we can start to understand why music in businesses is popular. In-store music can dramatically affect consumer behavior. Everything from purchasing habits to customer (and employee) satisfaction has improved with background music. For businesses, here are some of the main takeaways about retail store music and music in corporate office settings.

background music for businesses

Subscribe to Music for Your Business

Get SiriusXM Music For Business with Pandora Artist Stations included for only $26.95 a month. No contracts. Stream from the app or a dedicated music player.

1. Playing Music in a Business Really Does Increase Staff Productivity

Remember how we talked about Muzak experimenting on workers? Turns out the research showed that employees and assembly line workers were more productive when given uptempo background music to listen to. Music for your business creates a healthier working environment for employees.

2. Brand Association With Retail Store Music

Another subconscious effect of in-store music is brand association. If customers relate positively to the music being played in the background, they are more likely to relate positively to the products on sale in your store. Music for your business, and what you choose to play, makes inferences about your brand’s values and associates you with the sounds people hear.

Is Playing Music in a Business Legal?

Music licensing laws are pretty clear on the topic: It is illegal to perform, play or exhibit music in a public setting without a public performance license. Muzak became popular in the 1930s and 1940s because their easy listening music was provided royalty-free.

Today, streaming music for your business is legal with a licensed subscription like SiriusXM Music For Business. The monthly fee includes all of the royalties and fees required by music publishers and Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) to play music in a business.

Subscribe To SiriusXM For Business

Start Streaming for as Little as $26.95 a Month

Sign up for SiriusXM Music For Business today and receive Pandora For Business free of charge. Our streaming music for businesses includes over 240 streaming stations of today’s best music. Background music for businesses unlocks a whole new way to connect with your customers and provide them with a memorable experience and unforgettable atmosphere. From classical music to today’s top hits, get access to music for your business that sets the perfect mood.

Mobile and Web

SXM Mobile App Turn your mobile device into your SiriusXM Music for Business player
SXM Web Player Turn your computer into your SiriusXM Music for Business player

Dedicated Player

Grace Digital BR3 Great for any business. As easy to use as a regular radio. Connects to any audio system. Our most popular player!

Smart Devices

SONOS Play SiriusXM Business Music over your Sonos speakers and control the music from the Sonos App

Connected Devices

Apple TV, Amazon Alexa, Google Chromecast, Roku, and hundreds of SiriusXM-enabled devices.

Satellite Radio Package

Satellite Radio Kit For sites with no Internet connection. Get music directly from the satellite and bypass your data network.

or call 844-229-1217

M-F, 9:00 am - 6:00 pm EST

Streaming Music Package

For businesses with high-speed internet access

Satellite Music Package

For businesses that cannot use the internet for music

Listen on a device you already own

Start Streaming Now >>

Mobile Device Activate your iOS, Android, or Kindle
Sonos Activate your existing Sonos speaker
Connected Devices Activate your Apple TV, Alexa, Chromecast, or any SiriusXM-enabled streaming device
PC or Mac Listen on your internet-connected computer
SiriusXM Business Player Activate your existing SiriusXM business player
Satellite Radio Activate your existing Satellite Radio

Extended Warranty

Help us keep your music playing. Join the thousands of clients who have benefitted from our extended warranty program.

Reduce Downtime
  • Our extended warranty provides an advance replacement. The manufacturer's warranty does not.
  • In other words, we will immediately send you a new player if yours breaks.
  • Without the extended warranty, if your player breaks, you'll have to send it to our warranty team for analysis before we can replace it.
  • This process can take a 7-10 days between shipping and testing.
5 Year Coverage Options
  • Business players operate 24x7, often in environments hostile to electronic devices.
  • The manufacturer provides a one-year warranty on this player.
  • Our extended warranty will provide replacement coverage for 5 years from your date of purchase.
Inexpensive
  • Our goal is to keep your music playing.
  • This is why we make the extended warranty so inexpensive.
  • For the price of $1.00 per month, this is the best insurance you have agaisnt silence in your business.