Background music refers to music which is played in the backdrop of public spaces and is listened to passively. It is not supposed to the main focus of the place but acts as a supplement to the ambience of the place and it is usually played at a low volume. Background music is played at social gatherings, restaurants and even retail venues. A popular an emerging genre of background music is Ambient Music which puts emphasis on the atmosphere and is usually in the form of instrumental music and is gentle and soothing to the ear. It intends to generate a sense of calmness and relax the listener. One of the pioneers in ambient music is Brian Eno. He is also credited in coining the term ambient music and his album ‘Music for Airports’ is considered a pioneering work in this genre. Though ambient music is mainly for passive hearing, ambient music is gaining momentum as an active listening genre of music too. The main instrument used is synthesizer and other instruments like piano, strings and flute are emulated with it too. It uses nature soundscapes to add to its ethereal quality.
On an average a human spends around 1.2 hours on hold and much more in waiting rooms, restaurants, lobbies and even airports, simply waiting. Making this experience ideal for customers is a major avenue where ambient music takes prima facie. In case of shopping malls or retail outlets, studies show that music improves customer satisfaction and music playing in the background makes the wait time feel shorter than it actually is versus when there is no music played. Ambient music is also known as waiting music at times.
When it comes to waiting rooms and lobbies, sometimes there is need of relaxing and de-stressing music like in case of hospital waiting rooms or doctor’s chambers. Ambient music simply playing in these places reduce the stress levels of people waiting. Something as mundane as standing in a queue in a bank can be made bearable by the right choice of music and company owners across the world are opening up to the multifaceted benefits of this concept. The right kind of ambient music can put you in the right state of mind and help in quietening one’s thoughts. It is known as the ambient mode. It is also played separately and is said to heal anxiety issues.
Choosing the best kind of music for your company or retail space is important for the customers as well as employees. A right mix of slow, fast and tempered ambient music is necessary to strike a balance. Music played must be of high quality and should be legally purchased from the artist. This is not only beneficial for the customers but also the employees as happy customers means less aggravation for the employees too. The type of music played should be in conjunction with the kind of business one has. For example, a massage studio will play meditative tracks but a clothing store will play high tempo latest pop music. The right kind of music also acts as a ‘pied piper’ phenomenon and may attract customers to a particular store or restaurant, also making them stay longer. Music has become a part of the in-store experience along with store assistants, interiors and the whole overall shopping experience. Music affects customers at a subconscious level and affects buying decisions too. It is said to build brand equity, affecting the customer’s opinion of the brand.
Ambient music played at restaurants also play a role in the overall dining experience and it should be chosen to match the restaurant’s profile. Music should be loud enough to be heard and enjoyed but not so loud as to hinder conversation. The right ambient music is not only important to people but to businesses as well. The right music ensures that consumers stay and might even make them return or recommend the place to their peers. It is also a place where people discover new music and new artistes. Ambient music has become an important competitive tool for businesses and it helps in distinguishing one’s brand experience as well.
With music pervading all places, ambient music is slowly and steadily pervading all public places and is also making place for itself as a separate genre of music.