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Your restaurant has delicious food, refreshing drinks and great customer service. There’s just one thing that could make it better: the perfect soundtrack. A great playlist elevates customers’ dining experiences, transforming a great meal into a memorable experience.

Finding the right music for restaurants depends on a few factors, including the vibe of the space, guest demographics, and the ambiance you want to create. Whether you’re going for Top 40 or classical music, a thoughtful mix can take your business to the next level. 

The role of music: how tunes improve guest dining experience

Research shows that music can affect your mood and emotions. In fact, one study found that listening to music you like can actually create measurable physical reactions. This is great news for your restaurant — if you play music customers love, it can improve their meals. Music preferences can vary dramatically from person to person, so many restaurants opt for a non-polarizing playlist filled with familiar, crowd-favorite songs.

Of course, music selection goes deeper than what guests like and dislike. The tempo also plays a part. Upbeat, fast music tends to stimulate diners, which leads to energetic conversations and speedy eating. It’s a great option if you want to create a fun, lively atmosphere for groups but still manage to turn tables quickly.

Slow music tends to have the reverse effect, prompting diners to talk softly and linger over their meals. That’s why so many romantic and fine-dining restaurants opt for a gentle classical or piano playlist — it sets an intimate, peaceful mood and encourages diners to stick around for dessert or another round of craft cocktails on date night.

How to pick the right music for your restaurant

The best music for your restaurant is tailored to the establishment and the customers. Whether you run a tranquil coffee shop filled with remote workers or a gastro pub with diners who love an obscure craft beer, the right restaurant background music can keep loyal patrons coming back for more.

Here are some tips for picking the best music for restaurants, no matter the vibe.

Choose music that fits your restaurant’s theme

The perfect playlists are a creative way to bring your restaurant brand to life in a new, sensory way. Consider your cuisine, interior decor, and overall brand personality and determine which types of music feel like a natural fit. If you run a casual rural diner, you might play oldies or country music; a sleek, urban Japanese grill might be better suited to instrumental music or contemporary jazz.

Don’t be afraid to use background music that transports diners to another part of the world. Italian restaurants often play songs like “O Sole Mio” and “Quando, Quando, Quando” to set the mood. At a Thai noodle bar, you might hear soft, traditional music from Thailand. A quick search on Spotify can pull up popular restaurant playlists that feature everything from indie and pop to jazz and classic rock.

Consider your customer demographics

Once you have a general sense of the music that suits your restaurant, consider what playlists your customers might like. Start by considering demographics — a young, professional Gen Z crowd likely has different musical tastes than retired baby boomers. You may need to do a bit of consumer research to identify key age groups.

If you don’t have a dominant demographic, consider what you know about customers. Are they traveling for business? Eating out on vacation? Grabbing dinner as a family during a busy week? With that information, select music to match customers’ moods and priorities.

Use different playlists for various parts of the day

Does your morning crowd fit a different description than your evening diners? Switch up your music to give everyone a great experience. You might play soft folk music for weekend brunch guests, peppy instrumentals for the weekday work crowd, and upbeat pop music for happy hour.

Consider live music events in addition to recorded music

Keep in mind that restaurant music isn’t limited to your playlists on Apple Music or Spotify — a live band can set a festive mood. If the group has a following, a public performance at your restaurant can bring in new customers.

Before hiring live entertainment, make sure your restaurant is big enough to accommodate loud music. If the volume is too high, customers may have a hard time chatting or focusing on their food. Work with a local music expert to help you determine what type of groups will work well in the space.

Get feedback from customers

As a restaurant owner, the best way to get feedback on your music selections is to ask customers directly. Stop by tables to chat about the playlist and ask guests about their favorite types of background music. Alternatively, create a short printed or digital form for diners to submit requests; look for patterns in their responses to get a sense of popular music trends. You can also utilize customer reviews to see what past and current customers are saying about your restaurant music choices.

Strike a chord with guests

Restaurant music and great food work together to create an exceptional guest experience. Expand that positive impression to the rest of your services by choosing a professional, reputable delivery partner such as Grubhub. We use the latest technology to help you deliver the best possible service to all your customers. With Grubhub, you also gain access to convenient tools for virtual restaurants, promotions, and loyalty programs to take your business to the next level. To see how it works, get started with Grubhub today.