The Business Owner’s Guide to Coffee Shop Music

Coffee shop owner drinks coffee while selecting music from their Cloud Cover account.

There are three things that make a great coffee shop experience: the beans, the service, and the vibes.

And while big, cozy couches and community board game collections speak volumes in the ambiance department, the background melodies are what make a coffee shop truly memorable.


The Psychology of Music on the Brain

Woman taking notes while listening to music in a coffee shop

Various studies have found that playing in-house music set to a carefully considered tempo, volume, genre, and valence can influence behavior and decision-making.

  • One study found that music at a slower tempo encourages customers to linger and spend more money. Conversely, fast-paced music led to a quicker exit.
  • According to a study from Texas Tech, customers want the genre of music to “fit” the context. By playing music that complements other elements of your establishment, customers will value your efforts and be willing to spend more money.

Now that the benefits of overhead music are abundantly clear, it’s time to dive into the type of music you should play in your coffeehouse.


Picking the Right Music for Your Coffee House

While there are many factors to consider when selecting your coffeehouse playlist, the style of music you play is paramount to success. (Rage Against the Machine? At a coffee shop? At 8am? We think not…)

Here are six common genres that are best suited for java-fueled overhead listening.

1. Modern Folk

Musician playing modern folk music

What: Anything from Americana and acoustic to folk-rock and alternative styles

Popular artists/bands: Amos Lee, Iron & Wine, Mumford & Sons, Xavier Rudd, Bon Iver, The Head and the Heart, Joshua Radin


2. Alternative rock

Alternative rock bandleader playing music on stage

What: Blending elements of conventional rock with influences from other musical styles

Popular artists/bands: Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys, Foster the People, Cold War Kids, Young the Giant, Arcade Fire, Grouplove, Muse, Death Cab for Cutie


3. Electronica/Chillwave

Equipment used while producing electronica chillwave music

What: Low-to-moderate tempo music characterized by mellow vocals or ambient sounds

Popular artists/bands: Air, Bonobo, Royksopp, Massive Attack, Jon Hopkins, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Flying Lotus, M83, Tycho, Washed Out, Sigur Ros


4. Classical

String quartet being featured in orchestra playing classical music

What: Peaceful piano ballads, lush symphonies, relaxing instrumentals

Popular artists/bands: Bach, Chopin, Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, Khatia Buniatishvili, Yo-Yo Ma, Glenn Gould, Isaac Stern


5. Classic rock

Band playing classic rock music

What: Psychedelic rock, funk, soul, and pop tunes of the 1960’s and 1970’s

Popular artists/bands: Creedence Clearwater Revival, Pink Floyd, The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Supremes, Led Zeppelin, The Ventures, The Rolling Stones


6. Jazz

Bass player and drummer playing jazz at coffee shop

What: Classics of the 1920’s swing era to contemporary songs of the 2000’s

Popular artists/bands: Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, David Benoit, Sade, Kenny G, Herbie Hancock, Dexter Gordon


Looking for traditional coffee shop playlists? Our Coffee Shop and Coffeehouse Neo-Soul stations provide an eclectic mix of indie-pop, contemporary rock, chill hip-hop, and R&B tracks from your favorite modern and classic coffee house artists. Sample our stations for free today.

If you’re looking to compete with top national coffee brands such as Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, and Peet’s Coffee, Cloud Cover can help you take your in-store business music strategy to the next level. Get started with a free 14-day trial today.

Cloud Cover Music is the best business music streaming solution with great service.