What Is Yacht Rock & Should You Play It in Your Store?

Table of Contents

Related Reading

Yacht rock is a form of soft rock that is fun and mellow. It should keep people feeling happy and relaxed and therefore can be a good choice for background music in your store.

Music is an important element in a retail or store environment, as it can set the mode and tone for the environment. Playing the right music can keep customers engaged and encourage them to stay in your store longer. Because of this, they can potentially end up spending more money.

What Is Yacht Rock?

Yacht rock is a genre of music made between 1976 and 1984 in Southern California. It is a mellow kind of soft rock that often has a high level of musicality encompassing elements of rock, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

Typical yacht rock is more musical than lyrical, and it has more electric piano than acoustic guitar. Songs are melodic and smooth — light, bright, and bubbly, much like the champagne that was likely sipped while listening to this music on expensive yachts in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California.

Brief History of Yacht Rock

While the genre of yacht rock spans the mid-1970s to early 1980s, the term itself was not coined until 2005 when Channel 101 released the 12-episode web series titled Yacht Rock.

The genre of music itself likely got its roots from the sounds of the early 1960s and the Beach Boys, as the beach and fun in the sun aesthetic served as the template for Yacht Rock. For a period of about 10 years, musicians had fun with this style of rock and musically appealing songs.

The musical genre of Yacht Rock is officially said to have ended with the Beach Boys’ number one hit “Kokomo” in 1988, as music tastes had shifted once again.


Yacht rock is meant to invoke thoughts and images of sailing on the high seas and bay cruises and having fun in the sun. Songs in this genre are light and fun with more musicality than words. Tones are melodic, flowy, and smooth.

It is most commonly classified as a form of soft rock with elements of rhythm and blues, smooth soul, disco, and jazz influencing the music. When there are words, they are breezy, intellectual, and musically complex. The electric piano is often highlighted, and there is very little acoustic guitar.

Yacht rock songs are upbeat and have bouncy rhythms with a glossy production feel to them.

Artists & Bands That Play Yacht Rock

There is some contention as to what qualifies as true yacht rock and which bands and artists embodied this style. For example, while some call Rupert Holmes’s song “Escape (the Pina Colada Song)” the epitome of Yacht Rock, others claim that it is not musically interesting enough and too wordy to be classified as such.

The following artists and bands are typically classified as performing yacht rock music, but it is important to note that not all of the music they have created fall into this category:

  • Kenny Loggins
  • Beach Boys
  • The Doobie Brothers
  • Steely Dan
  • Airplay
  • Toto
  • Christopher Cross

Yacht rock is sampled heavily as well. There are more modern bands getting a taste for this style of music, and it could be seeing somewhat of an upswing in recent years due to the increasing popularity of the genre.

Where to Listen to Yacht Rock

During the 1970s and 1980s, yacht rock dominated the FM airwaves. All you had to do was turn on the radio and tune in to listen to it.

Today, there are many options for listening to yacht rock, mostly through streaming services. It is important to understand that if you want to play this music in a public space, such as your store, you will need to have the correct license to do so.

It can be helpful to partner with a streaming service or music streaming provider for businesses, such as Cloud Cover Music (CCM), that already holds the correct licensing for this music. Many of these streaming providers will have a yacht rock channel that you can subscribe to and listen to yacht rock in your store.


Top 10 Yacht Rock Songs of All Time. (May 2006). IGN.

Yacht Rock. (June 2005). Channel 101.

The Bizarre History of Yacht Rock. (April 2022). Grunge.

The Definitive Definition of Yacht Rock. (July 2019). Houstonia.

Music That Matches Your Business Goals. Cloud Cover Media.

Get Legal Streaming Music for Your Enterprise Business

Start Free Trial

No credit card required