Restaurant Customers Prefer Silence to Top 40 While Eating

The Impact of Restaurant Music

If you own a restaurant, there’s a good chance you have some music playing in the background for diners to enjoy while they sample your cuisine. But did you know that if you simply play a collection of top 40 hits in your restaurant, you might as well be playing nothing at all?

That’s the focus of a recent study by Soundtrack Your Brand, a consulting firm based in Sweden that helps companies create customized playlists. The company’s study tested four different types of background sound in select restaurants in Sweden. The four types of background sound included:

  • A selection of 100 popular songs and 260 more obscure songs that fit with the restaurant’s image
  • A selection of 360 popular songs that fit with the restaurant’s image
  • A selection of 360 popular songs with no consideration for the restaurant’s image
  • Silence

The Impact of Restaurant Music

Then the company analyzed sales from those restaurants to see if the music choice had any impact on customer behavior.

Overall, it seems that restaurant customers prefer when there’s a selection of music that includes some lesser-known songs and is curated to a restaurant’s image and theme — and they’re likely to spend more as a result.

And if the songs don’t fit with the restaurant’s brand at all, regardless of how popular they are, then customers actually seem to prefer silence, according to the release.

That’s right. You’d be better off playing nothing than a stream of top 40 hits with no connection to your brand!

Of course, Soundtrack Your Brand — a company partially owned by Spotify — is selling its consulting services to businesses that want to create those curated playlists. So that’s something to consider when weighing these results.

And, of course, the study was only conducted with restaurants in Sweden — so it’s conceivable customers in your region may differ.

But it certainly appears that some care taken while selecting the background music for your business is pretty important — especially if  you can choose a playlist in tune with your brand.

And ditch the top 40 playlist. Customers would quite literally rather hear a pin drop. Unless, of course, only diners from Sweden hate Top 40.

Diners Photo via Shutterstock 2 Comments ▼

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

2 Reactions
  1. I guess it is because these songs are played over and over again. Some tend to ignore it already because they are so used to the sound.

  2. The worst thing that ever happened to modern culture and daily public life is the black box. It is impossible to go anywhere in the world without being “entertained” by someone else idea of what they want you to hear.

    Your article confirms there is an endemic psychological sickness – let’s call it a Social Disease – whose most obvious symptom is an inability to be alone and silent with one’s thoughts for even short periods of time. Another expression of this illness is the inability to hold quiet conversation without a loud overnoise.

    Please be honest and stop calling it “background” music. That mocks the adjective.

    On the other hand, I must admit, loud music of any kind saves me a ton of money that i do not spend. As soon as I walk into a business of any kind that promotes the affliction, I turn and leave, never to return.