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Music in the background. History of music that sells

By the sound of music, you can determine in which institution you are: a shopping center, train station, cafe, boutique, etc. However, only New Year’s Eve brings its own confusion, because now the music of Christmas and New Year sounds the same everywhere. What we hear in retail outlets, foyers, lounge areas, elevators, airports and other public places has its own name: this is “background music”. The beginning of this trend was laid at the beginning of the twentieth century by the French classic Eric Satie with his “furniture music” created in the 1910s.

ericsatie soundaudio

Such works should have been reproduced as something indistinguishable from the environment.

The method of “delivering” background music to the user was invented at about the same time by Major General of the US Armed Forces George Owen Squire.

George Owen Squier soundaudio

As head of the communications service during World War I, Squire developed a wired radio station (using trees as antennas) to send radiograms, and in peacetime he patented his invention and founded Wired Radio. He later renamed the company “Muzak“.

Squire found a way to sell his “product”, offering private institutions – hotels, clubs, firms – to play background music through speakers, sometimes hidden behind large frames with then fashionable palm trees, due to which this type of broadcast was called “music from the pot.”

At first it was mostly instrumental classical or jazz, and then the instrumental performance of famous hits was added to this.

In America, such music was especially useful in elevators, as it distracted attention and, thus, calmed the nerves of especially visitors and customers, and this was an important point if you can imagine how many skyscrapers there are and how many floors they have.

In the 1940s, Muzak developed a kind of sound algorithm with the help of sound architects, calling it “Progressive Stimulation.”

This meant that the broadcasts were divided into 15-minute intervals, during which the volume of the sounding music steadily increased, and then fell silent for the next quarter hour, creating a feeling of “moving forward” and thus increasing productivity.

muzak soundaudio

In the late 1990s, students at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania came to the conclusion that when listening to background music for 30 minutes, the level of immunoglobulin A, which lives in the mucous membranes and repels viruses and pathogens, rises by 14.1%.

At the same time, the experimenters noticed that listening to the same amount of music on the radio, as well as other sound stimulations or just silence, did not give the same result.

Another study by professor of musical psychology Adrian North at a restaurant in Market Bosworth, England, showed that visitors spend an average of 2 pounds ($ 2.55) more if they are “processed” by classical music rather than pop.

According to scientists, one of the possible explanations for this may be that most people associate classical music with quality, and therefore, by the way, the classical repertoire encourages us to make more expensive purchases.

Wilkes University soundaudio

Be that as it may, such an abundance of research in this direction clearly says only one thing: marketers are more than ever worried about how to set up our sensory branding, that is, in simple words – how to encourage us to buy something?

But we, of course, understand that, although music can create complex associations, it will not work to deceive the client. And besides, so many hits for each specific product have not yet been written.

The main task of any trading company is to detain a client on its trading platform.

Let the buyers watch, choose, the main thing is not to leave them empty-handed, and the music here, of course, plays an important role: it is designed to balance the bustle of the store, create an atmosphere.

The Muzak company (which after the takeover in 2004 was named the Canadian company Mood Music) back in the 1930s and 1940s specially invited ensembles and orchestras for instrumental recording of famous melodies.

Currently, sound engineers who deliver ready-made playlists to shops, cafes, restaurants, fitness clubs, etc., have at their disposal an extensive music library, divided mainly into two main categories – foreground music and background music. What is the difference?

Foreground music is music that attracts the active attention of the listener. He concentrates on this, and this music mainly consists of the best charts, vivid artwork and pop hits.

Background music is the music that accompanies text, voice, noise, advertising, podcasts, games, movies. This music creates the mood of what is happening around and affects the emotional background of people.

You can always listen and download background music for your institution, project or video on our SoundAudio website.

Ed Solovey

SoundAudio Music Creator

Libraries of background music are divided into many small categories: by mood, color (dark or light music), instrumental or vocal music, music for films, games, commercials, corporate or children’s music. All this allows you to more accurately focus on a specific target audience.