Imagine a quiet, soothing space made for collaboration, conversation, and relaxation. For many people, that space can only be found inside of a hookah lounge. Here, they can gather with their friends and spend time doing something everyone enjoys while leaving the cares of the day behind.
While your space may be tailor-made for relaxation, it may not be unique. As hookah grows in popularity, so does the competition. For example, in an article published by the San Diego Reader, authors report that lounges tend to cluster within geographical spaces. In one six-block area in California, per this article, there are 10 hookah lounges.
In a competitive environment like this, you must attend to every single detail in order to attract and retain customers. That means you must choose the right music to play, and you must ensure that you follow the laws and avoid lawsuits.
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Choosing Music to Smoke By
While anyone might choose to stop by your hookah bar, the majority of your audience is likely to trend younger. As an article published by CNN points out, hookah lounges can be appealing to younger people who want to socialize in style but who might not be old enough to gather together in a bar. In your hookah lounge, they could have a bar-like experience even if they are younger than 21.
Younger patrons might enjoy special touches in your bar, such as:
- Strong wi-fi connections, so they can engage on social media.
- Beautiful backgrounds that make for lovely social media photo backdrops.
- High-end furniture that is comfortable for long periods of sitting.
- Well-presented foods and teas to accompany the smoke.
They may also enjoy a customized playlist. This younger audience might listen to pop tracks by Taylor Swift and Katy Perry in their headphones, and they might enjoy hearing similar songs in your hookah lounge.
But they might also enjoy music that has a much more ethnic and authentic feel. Choosing traditional Indian music could help to tie the products you sell and the environment of your lounge together, and that could be very pleasant for your customers.
Unlike a bar, a hookah lounge offers a communal experience, say people interviewed by The Washington Post. People come to the bar in groups, planning to spend quality time together, or they come alone and join in with another lonely person. The pipes are meant to be shared, so the spaces tend to encourage communication and friendship.
Choosing music without words can help to foster this communication. Your patrons won't be so concerned about listening to the vocals and interpreting the words when there are none to hear. Instead, they can simply enjoy the time they are spending with one another.
Using Music Legally
Since you are likely to cater to a young, techno-savvy audience, it can be tempting to let your patrons take control of your playlist. Letting them plug their phones into your sound system could let them work as a DJ for the night and impress the friends they've brought with them into your lounge. Unfortunately, allowing this activity breaks copyright law.
When you buy a CD or download a song, you have made an agreement with the writer and the performers that you will enjoy that music personally. You are not agreeing to play that music publically.
In order to play the music you love publically, you must have an agreement with the copyright holders of that music, and you must agree to pay a fee for the music you play. One organization that administers these agreements is ASCAP, and that group says there are few loopholes for bar owners. If your lounge is smaller than 3,750 square feet and you play only the radio, you may not need an agreement, ASCAP says. But any other arrangement involves an agreement.
If you do not have an agreement like this, a representative from ASCAP or an organization like it could walk into your lounge and demand payment for the music playing overhead. That representative could also take you to court for playing music without permission. Losing a lawsuit like this could easily cost you your business.
We can help. At Cloud Cover Music, we specialize in helping businesses find and play the music they need to succeed. We can help you select the right playlist, and we handle the legal issues, so you will be protected from lawsuits and requests for payment.
We make setup and administration easy. It takes just minutes to connect to our libraries, and we are compatible with almost every kind of sound system out there.
We would like to talk with you about what we can do and how we can help. We can offer you a free trial to help you understand the benefits. Please contact us to get started.
- Booze-Smoking Head Scratcher. (April 2017). San Diego Reader.
- Nearly 1 in 5 High School Seniors Have Tried Hookah. (July 2014). CNN.
- Hookah Bars Enjoy a Blaze of Popularity. (April 2003). The Washington Post.
- Why ASCAP Licenses Bars, Restaurants, and Music Venues. ASCAP.