What's The Most Affordable Option for In-Store Music?

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Music is a simple but effective way for business owners to create a specific ambiance in their store, which can influence the behavior and mood of their customers.

Slow business music encourages customers to linger and look through the store more while songs in a major key sound happier to most shoppers. However, when you’re setting up the sound system for your store, where do you source your music?

You Must License Your Business Music

In the modern world, it seems easy enough to purchase a couple of wireless speakers, hook them into your smartphone or tablet, and then stream music from your favorite playlists. First, there is nuanced psychological research into tempo, mode, genre, and recognizability of music in your store that should influence your choices. Second, you cannot simply use a personal music streaming service in your retail location.

Because of how music licensing works, you must work with a music streaming service that works with commercial business entities. If you don’t, you can face legal action and steep fines. The fines for playing unlicensed music in your business (and this includes using a personal streaming account like Spotify or Apple Music) can range from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per song played. This can add up quickly.

Fortunately, there are several commercial music streaming services that allow you to play fully licensed, ad-free, and curated music in your business. Each commercial streaming service offers some similar options, but there are important differences between them, including price.

Affordable Streaming Music for Businesses

These major commercial streaming services offer robust libraries at affordable pricing structures. Each music-for-business streaming provider offers ad-free, business-appropriate playlists and stations as well as large libraries of music. You can also customize your own playlists that are curated to your business type, time of day, and seasonal offerings.

While prices are listed below, always check with the provider directly to ensure the most up-to-date pricing and terms.

  • Pandora for Business: Pandora was one of the first internet-based music streaming services, which works similarly to radio stations, but with an important difference; users tell Pandora what genre or artist they are interested in, and the program generates a “station” based on that information. Pandora uses the Music Genome Project to connect the user’s original musical taste to similar songs, which can then receive a thumbs-up or thumbs-down from the user. This streaming service became immensely popular, and led to small business owners creating stations to play music in their retail or restaurant space. Since this practice is illegal, Pandora expanded to manage licensing specifically for businesses. Pandora for Business works much like the original program, but with no ads, no lengthy contracts, and access to the libraries of several performing rights organizations (PROs). Pandora for Business does not have a free trial period, but if you are not satisfied with the music player and the streaming service, you can cancel your account within 14 days and get your money back. The monthly service costs $26.95, and you get a free music player when you sign up.
  • SiriusXM for Business: SiriusXM is satellite radio streamed through the internet, so it can be played on multiple devices. There are thousands of channels on the personal version of this program, offering commercial-free music, talk radio, sports broadcasting, news, and more. Business owners wanted access to this content, so SiriusXM for Business was formed. SiriusXM for Business takes care of licensing music, talk programs, and other broadcasts for you. You can get 30 days free to try SiriusXM for business, and after that, the monthly cost is $26.95. You do not have to sign a long-term contract, so if you pay the subscription price but are unsatisfied with the product, you can cancel anytime.
  • Mood Media: After purchasing Muzak in 2011, the company acquired the patents for certain approaches to creating musical landscapes in business locations. Mood has a large library of instrumental music that they reference to create customized soundscapes for any business, to keep customers relaxed, happy, and enjoying the in-store experience. They also use other methods to create a full ambiance for your brand, including scent, colors, light, and social media interaction. Mood Media has no annual contract, but the monthly cost ranges from $26.99 to $35.99 per month, depending on the tiered plan you choose.

This chart breaks down the offerings of each commercial music streaming provider at a glance:

Library Monthly Cost Free Trial Period Equipment Required?
Pandora for Business 250+ stations $26.95 14 days Yes, free with signup
SiriusXM for Business 240+ professionally designed channels $26.95 30 days No
Mood Media Hundreds of genres & over 160 custom channels $26.99-$35.99 14 days No
Pandora CloudCover 220+ business channels & huge songs library %18.95-$29.95 14 days No


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