Choosing In-Store Music Systems, Services, & Providers

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Creating a soundscape for your shop requires buying a system and choosing the music to play. You've likely completed these steps for your home multiple times. But filling a large retail space is different and requires more expertise.

Keep reading to find out what makes up an in-store music system, how to set one up, and how to choose the music you'll play through your new system.

4 Key Parts of an In-Store Music System

While it is easier to access at first, personal sound system equipment is not enough for many brick-and-mortar stores. You'll need to build a system just for your space with these four basic parts.

1. Audio Source

Music is played through this device. It could be an MP3 player, CD player, vinyl record player, smartphone, or tablet. There are numerous music sources for all kinds of applications.

2. Amplifier

This is the power behind the speakers, converting the quality of the input's signal to make sound through the outputs.

3. Volume Controller

The volume control knob may be built into the system. Separate volume controls may be needed for commercial setups with multiple speakers.

If you end up with a more complex setup, you may need a master volume control and a mixer. The mixer combines two or more low-level sound inputs into one monophonic output through the speaker. Monophonic sound means that customers can hear high-quality music closer to the speakers without missing any part of the song.

4. Speakers

These devices broadcast background music through the store or restaurant. Larger rooms may require more speakers with monophonic audio, while smaller rooms could benefit from fewer speakers with stereo sound.

Using inexpensive or low-quality speakers may cause distortion that does not resonate well with patrons. If you run a small business, you may start with a wireless speaker hooked to your phone or a tablet to play music.

Increasingly, wireless speakers are bypassing amps and volume control hardware. Both software and hardware advancements have made wireless speakers produce high-quality sound. However, the connection to the audio source can be disrupted easily, and many of these speakers don't produce as high-quality sound as wired in-store setups do.

Best Music Systems for Retail Stores

If you're feeling overwhelmed by all the equipment you need — and the demands of putting it all together — you're not alone. Figuring out the perfect setup is a complex process. You're already running a business, and learning the tools to set up an in-store music system can be more than you want to deal with directly.

Thankfully, plenty of plug-and-play options exist that make filling your room with sound a snap. These are popular companies:

Some companies work with local companies to set up and install complete sound systems. These innovative partnerships allow you to work with one company on both playlists and equipment. A solution like this could be ideal if you’re short on time but need the right sound.

Streaming Services for Personal vs. Business Settings

When you're creating a high-quality in-home audio setup, you are likely going to use your computer, tablet, or smartphone as a solution to play music at some point. There are dozens of music streaming services available for personal use, either for free by listening to occasional advertisements or for a subscription fee with no ads.

These are some of the most popular services:

  • Spotify
  • Apple Music
  • SoundCloud Go
  • Tidal
  • Google Play Music
  • Amazon Prime Music

When you subscribe as an individual to these services, it is fine for you to use them in your home, car, or with headphones. However, you cannot legally play them in your business.

Copyright law defines any performance in a space not for personal use as a public performance. Numerous people are potentially listening to a song, and artists should make royalties from this larger audience.

You may consider purchasing licenses through performing rights organizations (PROs) if you want to stream music. A PRO will manage a catalog of music copyrights and offer licenses for commercial use for different lengths of time.

Traditionally, business owners have contacted PROs and purchased licenses for a catalog of music they can use in their store or restaurant. Each PRO manages a different roster of music, so many businesses find that they have to purchase multiple licenses to get all the songs they want.

Business-focused music streaming services manage licensing through multiple PROs, so a business owner can access a wider range of background music by subscribing to one. This is the service we offer at Cloud Cover Music, and it’s a game-changer for our clients.

Try Our Legal Streaming In-Store Music for Your Business


Things to Consider When Choosing Your In-Store Music Provider

You have the hardware and you have a good idea of what you want to play, but you need someone to help make your vision a reality. Who should you choose? Before you make this critical decision, consider a few key factors.

Music Availability

Music streaming services connect with PROs to gain access to song libraries. Some have extensive partnerships, allowing clients to choose from millions of songs. Others don’t have so many connections.

Before you sign up, determine how many songs your preferred company will allow you to play. Is everything you want available?

Customer Support

In a perfect world, nothing will go wrong. In reality, something always will. The right tech partner will be right by your side if your system malfunctions or goes down. You won’t have to wait days for a solution.


Prices range greatly. A bigger price tag doesn’t always mean a better product. Determine just what you’ll get for your money before you agree.

Test Your System Volume

With your equipment installed, music provider chosen, and playlist set, it's time to test your system. How loud should it be?

HeartBeats International examined the impact that music has on consumers. They found the following:

  • Music ranked as the third most important commodity in daily life, following internet access and mobile phones.
  • Music made people stay in establishments longer, with 35 percent saying they stayed because of music, 31 percent saying they would revisit because of the music's impact, and 21 percent reporting that they would recommend the place to others.
  • When asked more about music selection, 82 percent of the group reported that music volume impacted their perception of the shop, and 87 percent said that volume affected their feelings about a restaurant.

Music that matched the profile or brand of the establishment, corresponded to the visitor's tastes, and was familiar were also important, but not as crucial as volume.

Walk around your space and look for dead spots. Would a new speaker help? Is another section too loud? Is the whole room too loud? Tinker until you find the right setting.

Work With a Trusted Partner

Creating and managing an in-store music system is complicated, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. Let us help you find and share the perfect playlist with your customers. Build your own, or choose from one of our presets.

We'll help you set up the perfect receiver/speaker system, and we'll be with you if something goes wrong. Contact us for a demo today.


Amplifiers. (September 2017).

The Best Wireless and Bluetooth Speakers of 2018. (May 2018). PC Mag.

How the Top Music Streaming Services Compare. (March 2016). Business Insider.

Uncovering a Musical Myth: A Survey on Music’s Impact in Public Spaces. HeartBeats International.

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