Music for Restaurants: 3 Reasons You Need Great Music

in business insights

friends eating together at a restaurant

Music for business is an incredibly powerful marketing tool for restaurants. Not only can it enhance the mood and ambiance of your eatery, but restaurant music can also lead to increased revenue and employee efficiency.

Long story short: If you’re not employing the power of in-store music, your business is missing out.

Not convinced?

Here are three reasons why restaurant music is an absolute must-have:

1. It Reduces Perceived Customer Wait Times

customers waiting in line

Research shows that, on average, people exaggerate actual wait times by as much as 36 percent (Sheesh! No wonder customers complain about waiting in line!).

As a restaurant business owner, this statistic might seem daunting. But rather than scrambling to speed things up -- and possibly sacrifice food quality or customer service in the process -- why not focus on reducing the perception of wait time?

From busy drive-thru lanes to backed up checkout counters, the right restaurant background music is the key to keeping your customers engaged and entertained while they wait.

Not to mention, it can reinforce branding and increase add-on impulse purchases.

2. It Maximizes Table Turnover

group eating together at a qsr

In busy restaurant environments, moving more customers in and out the door is crucial to sustainability. It seems simple enough, but this can often prove difficult, especially when you’re dealing with lingering diners.

So, how do you maximize table turnover without compromising the customer experience?

Play the right tunes!

Studies have shown that slow tempo music has resulted in patrons spending more time during their restaurant visits. On the other hand, when patrons are exposed to upbeat restaurant music, the number of bites and sips per minute increases.

3. It Boosts Employee Morale & Efficiency

cashier smiling

You know the saying that those who have happy wives lead happier lives? Well, that same thing applies to your restaurant business: the happier your staff, the happier your customers, the happier your wallet.

And one of the easiest/research-backed ways to boost morale and productivity is with music. Whether your employees are prepping food, restocking the storage room or hanging in the back room for their break, empower them to pick and choose the music they listen to during their downtime.

If you are interested in learning more about how music can make a difference in a restaurant, I recommend you visit our page on how to Match Your QSR Business Goals with a Restaurant Music Solution.

How to Legally Play Music in Your Business

Most music is copyright protected, so you will need a public performance license to play it in your restaurant. There are a few options for obtaining the correct licensing to play music legally.

  • Contact the holders of the copyright(s) directly. Recorded music is actually copyright protected by two different copyrights: the sound recording and the composition. The sound recording copyright protects the actual recorded version of the song, while the composition copyright protects the musical composition and lyrics.

    To play a song legally in your restaurant, you will need to contact the holders of each copyright directly to obtain permission. This is generally a recording company, artist, musician, and/or composer. This process can be tedious, time-consuming, and expensive.
  • Secure licensing through the performing rights organizations (PROs). There are several major PROs that have agreements with artists directly to obtain musical licensing. You can contact one of these (BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC are some of the largest) to obtain licensing to play music from artists that they represent.

    You will only be able to play music that is in each specific PRO’s catalog. For variety, you will often need to obtain licensing through more than one PRO.
  • Use a business streaming service. It is important to understand that this differs from a personal streaming service, which cannot be legally used for playing music in public. A business streaming service will already have partnerships with the major PROs, so the legal licensing is handled, and you can stream music in your business legally with ease.

Benefits of a Commercial Streaming Service

A business music streaming service can offer you convenience, saving you both money and time.

Streaming services that cater to businesses will take care of the copyright licensing for you by partnering with the major PROs to ensure that the legalities of playing music in public are handled. This is one less thing for you to worry about.

Contacting each copyright holder directly for every single song you want to play is not very feasible, and it can get very expensive. While it is possible to obtain a license through a PRO directly, different artists will be under different PROs. You will need to obtain a license through several PROs (and pay the subsequent fees) to have more variety in song selection and choice.

Using a business music streaming service can offer you the freedom to play a wide variety of music. These streaming services not only handle the legal licensing for you, but they often have playlists for specific industries and businesses. You can also customize your business playlists and decide which type to use and for how long music should be played.

Looking for an affordable business music solution?

Whether you operate one location or dozens of franchises, Cloud Cover has an ample selection of quality music for restaurants. From golden oldies and classic rock to timeless pop and high energy hits, our monthly subscription starting at $17.95/mo offers over 75 fully-licensed music stations, free of explicit language and ads.

Try us free for 14-Days -- no credit card, no commitments, no gimmicks.


What Musicians Should Know About Copyright. U.S. Copyright Office.

BMI. (2022). Broadcast Music, Inc.

ASCAP Music Licensing. ASCAP.