Ramy Abu-Yousef is the CEO of Restaurant
Innovations, an international restaurant consulting
agency, as well as the general manager of the
Bathhouse Restaurant (www.bathhouse.co.nz) in
Queenstown, New Zealand.
|Top Twenty Must Have Cafe Songs for 2008
April 17, 2008
By Ramy Abu-Yousef and Alyson Vidoli
Have you ever walked into a restaurant and
immediately felt at ease, found yourself really
enjoying the atmosphere, or walked out whistling to
yourself and in a generally good mood, but had no
explanation for it? If so, you’re not alone.
Alyson Vidoli, music coordinator for GO Music
Services, a Los Angeles based company that
selects music for television shows such as House, M.
D., Weeds, Dexter and Entourage, says that “A
lot of restaurants have that ‘can’t put your finger on it’
phenomenon about them, and 9 times out of
10, it is because of the music playing in the
Music selection profoundly impacts a customer’s dining
experience, however many restrateurs underestimate
the power of music to complement the atmosphere of
their restaurant. Music has the ability to spark
memories, evoke powerful emotions and even define
an era. Think back to how you felt the first time you
heard your favorite song, or the last time you sang
along at the top of your lungs to a song that was
playing in your car.
Market trends indicate that corporate use of high
quality and cutting edge music is expanding.
Major companies are beginning to harness and use to
their advantage the power of music to enhance a
product, create an image or to generate sales.
Television shows and commercials have developed a
near cult following with several websites exclusively
devoted to answering the inevitable question
“what was the name of that song?”
“The power and ability to choose the background
music that everyone in a restaurant hears is a
powerful tool that every restaurateur has, but one that
is rarely used effectively,” says Vidoli. In fact, studies
show that relaxed and happy customers spend their
money far more effortlessly and generously than
tense customers. “That’s just common sense,” Vidoli
Potential customers have an innate sense of the aura
surrounding an establishment, and will be drawn in to
a place with an energetic vibe. Creating this mood or
“buzz” can be accomplished with a well thought out
music selection. If you're looking to expand your music
repertoire and maximize the full potential of your
establishment, here are a few tips and a top 20 list to
help get you started.
First, invest in a good sound system. You will never
realize the full potential of your playlist without a good
system to back it up and nothing sounds worse than
muffled sound coming out of old or broken speakers.
Second, decide what type of background or
experience you are trying to establish. Objectively
listen to the songs you are playing, you may
personally like them and think they are good, but make
sure they fit into the vision you have for your dining
area and the mood you are trying to create.
|Third, keep your ears open for new songs. If you hear
something you like, make a note of it, find out who the
artist is and listen to other songs by that artist.
Compile a playlist that really expresses your vision.
Ask your customers for suggestions -- everyone has a
favorite song or artist, and you may discover that many
of them are quite good.
Fourth, listen to the music. Does the music make you
tap your foot, sway your head or whistle along? If so,
that's a good sign. Next, try playing the music over the
soundsystem. Songs can sound very different when
played loudly or in a noisy environment.
Last but not least, update, update, update. Make sure
you are not playing the same music over and over
again. If your music becomes stale and boring, so will
the impression of your restaurant. Make sure you
frequently change and revamp the playlist. New music
comes out everyday, so stay tuned and keep abreast
of new trends and consumer preferences.
A good playlist is more than just ambient noise. Ideally,
music should generate a buzz, and perhaps even
become a topic of conversation. At a minimum, music
should put your customers at ease and create a happy
So what are the best songs to play? “Well, simply put,
there are thousands, and it all depends on what you’re
trying to do with the music” reports Vidoli. A good song
has the ability to capture and amplify an existing
To demonstrate the potential of good music in a
particular niche, we have put together a list of what
we think are the top twenty “must haves” for any
daytime restaurant or café. Keep in mind that different
styles of music and songs are appropriate for
The following list was narrowly tailored using the
following criteria for selection:
1) the release date must be 2007 or later
2) the sound and volume must be consistent
3) the song pace must be relatively uniform (not too
slow or too fast)
4) the song must be upbeat and light hearted
5) the song must be appropriate for play over large
sound system and in a loud atmosphere
The right playlist will ensure your customers spend
more, come back often and leave in a better mood
than when they walked in. So give these songs a
listen and use them as a springboard of inspiration to
generate your own compilation.
Alyson Vidoli is the music supervisor for GO music
services, and head music consultant for