You had an amazing idea, and you decided that your community really needed to know about it. So you opened up your own small business. You're not alone. According to the 2021 Small Business Profile created by the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 32.5 million small businesses in the United States alone.
You can flesh out your idea and connect with your consumers by choosing the right music to play in your small business. To do that, you'll need to get set up with a partner.
An Expense You Should Plan For
Running a small business can be expensive, and as authors writing in the Houston Chronicle point out, a rule of thumb suggests that you'll reinvest most of your first-year net revenue into your business. Money will be tight, and it's understandable if you're tempted to cut corners.
Unfortunately, playing music in your shop will — in most cases — rely on some form of payment. As the Better Business Bureau points out, music that you play for your customers is considered a "performance" under the law. It doesn't matter that you're not selling tickets or hiring a band. When you play music in a place where strangers gather together to do something, it's considered a performance.
"In order to play music, you'll need some kind of connection with these PROs. Without that connection, you could get fined for each instance of playing a song. Those offenses could really pile up, and that could impact your ability to make a profit."
The people who created that music hold a license for it, and that means they expect to get a fee every time that music is played. Composers, singers, and other musicians hold contracts with one of the major performing rights organizations (or PROs), who collect those fees on their behalf.
In order to play music, you'll need some kind of connection with these PROs. Without that connection, you could get fined for each instance of playing a song. Those offenses could really pile up, and that could impact your ability to make a profit.
There are two exceptions for very cash-strapped businesses, according to the National Federation of Independent Business.
The first: If your small business is held in a facility that is smaller than 2,000 square feet (or you run a food-based or drinking establishment that is less than 3,750 square feet), you can play local radio in your organization.
The second: You can play music that falls within the public domain (think: old). You'll need to be careful to ensure that you are playing the original, protected version of the piece. Any cover or rerecording could be subject to licensing issues.
These options could be workable for some small businesses. They could, however, keep you from really tapping into the benefits of using music in your business.
Why Should You Explore Your Options?
The music you play can have an influence on what your consumers do and how much they are willing to pay you for their experience.
For example, in research highlighted by the Association for Psychological Science, scientists found that playing country music prompted consumers to pay more for utilitarian products like toothbrushes or ballpoint pens while playing classical music prompted consumers to pay more for high-end products like cologne or gold earrings.
It may sound unusual or even a little disconcerting, but the music you play can help to prod your consumers to spend their hard-earned money with you rather than spending it somewhere else.
Researchers writing in Scientific American say that music has the ability to touch brain cells that control both emotion and movement. That's why people march to the beat of a band, and it explains why people walk a little faster in a store with an upbeat tempo playing overhead.
How could you use this inherent ability of music to help your brand? You could look for songs that help to reinforce your brand positioning. Your playlist might vary if you consider your brand to be:
- Technologically savvy
- Made for young people
- Rebellious and alternative
- Caring and kind
Think about the words you might use to define your brand, and then use those words to help you come up with artists and/or songs that complement the words you've chosen. You could come up with the right playlist in no time.
In research highlighted by the Association for Psychological Science, scientists found that playing country music prompted consumers to pay more for utilitarian products like toothbrushes or ballpoint pens while playing classical music prompted consumers to pay more for high-end products like cologne or gold earrings.
1. Country: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4ze2tulcmXnVnD1OQHamU3?si=WLrrsHLjQS2DstAm48WJmQ
Song: Whiskey River
Artist(s): Willie Nelson
Song: What Would I've Become
Artist(s): Ryan Bingham
Song: The Housefire
Artist(s): Turnpike Troubadours
Song: The Color of a Cloudy Day
Artist(s): Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer
Artist(s): Casey Donahew
Artist(s): William Clark Green
Song: If I Was a Gun
Artist(s): Ian Munsick
Song: Message In A Bottle
Artist(s): Stoney LaRue
Artist(s): Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Song: Oh, Tonight (feat. Kacey Musgraves)
Artist(s): Josh Abbott Band, Kacey Musgraves
Song: Outlaw State Of Mind
Artist(s): Chris Stapleton
2. Classical: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6kjR7rHDvjxeU7DAVLWYVr?si=DmFW8cudQJqPbW9_n_gYFw
Song: Borodin - String Quartet No.2 in D major: Notturno: Andante
Artist(s): Alexander Borodin, Borodin Quartet
Song: Orchestral Suite No. 3 in D Major, BWV 1068: II. Air
Artist(s): Johann Sebastian Bach, Joshua Bell, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields
Song: The Well-Tempered Clavier: Book 1, BWV 846-869: 1. Prelude in C Major, BWV 846
Artist(s): Johann Sebastian Bach, Lang Lang
Song: Liszt: Années de pèlerinage, Troisième année, "Italie", S. 163: IV. Les Jeux d'eaux á la Villa d'Este
Artist(s): Franz Liszt, George Li
Song: Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K. 622: II. Adagio
Artist(s): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Sabine Meyer, Claudio Abbado, Berliner Philharmoniker
Song: Ravel: Piano Concerto in G Major, M. 83: II. Adagio assai
Artist(s): Maurice Ravel, Andrew von Oeyen, Emmanuel Villaume, Prague Philharmonia
Song: Serenade for Strings in C major, Op. 48: II. Walzer: Moderato, tempo di valse
Artist(s): Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Moscow Soloists, Yuri Bashmet
Song: String Quartet No. 15 in A Minor, Op. 132: V. Allegro appassionato
Artist(s): Ludwig van Beethoven, Koeckert Quartet
Song: String Quartet No. 53 in D Major, Op. 64, No. 5, Hob.III:63, "The Lark": II. Adagio - Cantabile
Artist(s): Franz Joseph Haydn, Kodály Quartet
Song: Symphony No. 40 in G Minor, K. 550: I. Molto allegro
Artist(s): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Riccardo Minasi, Ensemble Resonanz
We Can Help
At Cloud Cover Music, we're here to help smooth the road for small businesses. We can help you choose a playlist that reflects your brand and helps consumers to know who you are and what you stand for. We can also take care of licensing issues, so you'll be able to play what you want without fines. Let's get started.
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- 2021 Small Business Profile. Office of Advocacy, U.S. Small Business Administration.
- Average Time to Reach Profitability in a Startup Company. (July 2017). Houston Chronicle.
- Music in the Marketplace. Better Business Bureau.
- You Might Need a License to Play Music in Your Small Business. (September 2011). National Federation of Independent Business.
- Background Music Influences Buying Behavior. (September 2015). Association for Psychological Science.
- In-Store Music and Aroma Influences on Shopper Behavior and Satisfaction. June 2006). Journal of Business Research.
- The Power of Music: Mind Control by Rhythmic Sound. (October 2012). Scientific American.