The Rebel Company
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Making Music Work For Your Brand

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It’s no secret that in today’s saturated hotel and restaurant markets, brands who can drive emotional engagement through their music programming are winning over and retaining audiences in spaces where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd.

We’re continuing to see real innovation in the sectors, and a key element of this is how different operators are approaching music and programming; and developing a key point of view around how this is communicated. And this is being approached from a variety of angles.

DJs turning their hand to food and drink

Last week saw actor-turned-DJ Idris Elba bolstering his musical credentials by opening his intimate, exclusive bar The Parrot at the Waldorf Hilton in London’s Aldwych, which will feature a programme of DJ’s and live music performances tailored to a discerning, connected audience who know how to manipulate a tricky guest list.

Carl Clarke’s continued success with Chick n’ Sours to some degree proves the theory that DJ’s can successfully transfer their appeal and reputation over to an industry that clearly takes its musical credentials seriously. We were however sad to see local favourite and Krankbrother brainchild Beagle in Hoxton close this year after a decent run in a great space.

Vinyl is back and here to stay

When Brawn on Columbia Road opened its door what seems like decades ago, their turntable and record collection were key features of the dining and drinking experience. This is something that we’re continuing to see prevail, including at recently opened Michelin starred Leroy in Shoreditch where the crackle and imperfections of listening to vinyl is as charming as the pauses between tracks.

We also saw this in action on a recent trip to Chicago, where we popped into the Fox Bar at Soho House to browse their growing vinyl library directly adjacent to the bar.

In other news our relatively new neighbour Mare Street Market, houses a record store called Stranger Than Paradise on site that encourages guests to physically interact with – and take home – the music that they hear playing in the venue. They join the now constantly referenced and locally loved Ace Hotel London Shoreditch who run vinyl haven Sister Ray out of a previously unloved corner of their property.

Just up the road in Dalston, our favourite mid-week hangout Brilliant Corners, has recently opened an extension to their perfectly put together restaurant and bar, that now houses their ‘Giant Steps’ vintage travelling sound system in a semi-private drinking and dining room.

Just add coffee

Pressure from growing rents and rates has prompted traditional retail businesses to consider adding an element of f&b to their operations, and we recently spoke to Appear Here about how we’re increasingly seeing this in the fashion industry. However it’s become a staple of the record shop resurgence too, fuelled by a rise in vinyl sales and the continued proliferation of great coffee into the farthest corners of retail.

We turn to Lion Coffee + Records and The Book and Record Bar for great examples of how this is really working for operators looking to draw in an audience, keep them in store for longer, and drive ancillary revenue at the same time.

3 Tips to make music work for your venue

So whilst we can all enlist the hottest DJs in town to put their names to our bars, or add record shops to our lobbies there are certain things that all operators can do to maximise on the positive effects of putting music at the heart of their guest experiences. Here are our top picks.

Invest in local collaborations

Unless you’re confident you really know what you’re doing (or you employ someone who does) then don’t try and go it alone. Find a programming partner that’s local to your business, who gets your audience, and who is able to create playlists that suit your vibe and your opening hours.

This could be a company such as MAV music which will create evolving playlists around an agreed brief, a local record label or a DJ/producer with whom you can set up a win-win, long term relationship.

Keep it fresh

Playlist curation isn’t a one time thing. The last thing you want is for your regular guests to grow tired of the same playlists day in day out. Invest in the commitment to regular updates to your playlists, and consider extending this to lobby or bar programming on busier nights to give guests another reason to come back to your venue.

Get the tempo and volume right

The volume that your music is played at will help determine how and what your guests order, as it has a direct impact on heart rate and arousal.

Want your guests to indulge and reach for unhealthier options or push the boat out? Turn it up! Whereas if your goal is to create a more mindful, healthier approach then keep the volume knob turned down.

According to a recent article on, “the pace of your overhead music also has a strong impact on how your customers eat and drink. Choosing the wrong speed could have different impacts on your diner’s experiences even if you pick the right genre, volume, and mix.

The National Restaurant Association recently shared some eye-opening statistics about customer behaviour and music:

Customers chew food 30% faster when they listen to uptempo music, decreasing eating times and increasing table turnover.

Men buy more drinks when they listen to uptempo music and drink them faster.

Customers increased the average ticket size of their bill by 23% while listening to slower music. This is attributed to customers buying more drinks and other add-ons (like dessert and coffee) that typically have high-profit margins for restaurants.

Get in touch

We’d love to hear from operators and businesses who have invested in interesting approaches to getting their music right, connecting with their audience and driving engagement. We’d also love to hear about what didn’t work, and what people have tried and failed at.

Please do get in touch.