Music Fuels the Mood

The first aspect of maintaining a successful restaurant is earning and maintaining its customers. A happy customer can insure that customer would return, and perhaps tell a friend about their good experience. Along with other factors, the music playing during a customer’s experience with food can heavily impact a their mood (Zillmann and Bhatia, 1989) . The aspect of music and mood is highlighted in the video below, showing the same images, but with different music. Note how each change in song triggers a different mood or perception of the picture. Try to implement that state of mind when looking at various pictures of food with different music. Music plays a large role in people’s perceptions, which is important for restaurant owners to take in to consideration when compiling a soundtrack for their store.

The science behind music and its mood-boosting endorphins is a hormone called Oxytocin, which is one of the triggers of certain social behaviors in the mammalian brain (Smith, 2008). It goes without saying that it is important to heighten the levels of Oxytocin in the brain to create a happy atmosphere for customers. However, some songs are clearly better than others. Here is a diagram of the brain and its specific reactions to the brain. Note how many facets of the brain connect with the psychology of going out to a restaurant for dinner:

"Music on the Brain"

The restaurant where I work is an Italian restaurant, and thus the restaurant has an ongoing Italian theme. With that being said, it is important to select songs that coincide with the theme and yet trigger Oxytocin production in the brain (Smith, 2008). In my restaurant, the music selection revolves mostly around Frank Sinatra and other 1940’s Big Band artists, but also intertwines Norah Jones and The Fray, on occasion. These contemporary songs were new additions to the soundtrack, but were still smooth yet “happy” songs.

According to an article from The New York Times, restaurant managers around the nation were being consumed with compiling hour-by-hour soundtracks that were appropriate for their restaurants’ theme and would tend to their customers’ psyche (Bruni, 2008). One of the popular sources for an easy play list was Muzak, a genre of music with soft chimes, also known as “elevator music” (Mehrabian, and Russel, 1974) . In earlier years, Muzak and had such little stimuli to the human brain, it was even considered “anti-music” (Bruni, 2008). Here is an example of traditional, 1970’s elevator Musak:

However, people who produce Muzak over the years developed a less monotonous form of background music, and began to develop stimuli-triggering play lists for offices, retailers, and restaurants (Dewolf, 2009). Muzak has specialized in creating soundtracks that are appropriate for stores and its customers, whether they are for a retailer or a restaurant. These soundtracks offer a variety of songs, ranging from different genres and eras, that smoothly go together to create the perfect play list for a store/restaurant and its customers (Bruni, 2008).

Studies have also clarified that if music was easily “likable” (such as alternative, or softer tunes, such as Muzak), people were more likely to associate with liking the music to the restaurant, and ideally, the food (Robally, 1985) . Liking the atmosphere has also proven to make the consumer want to return, as well as interact with those around them. So, that means for better conversation at the dinner table, and a pleasant experience with the waiter (Fried and Berkowitz, 1979).

Aside from obviously wanting happy customers, maintaining a happy mood in the restaurant is a good way to create revenue. The customers are instantly put in a good mood, and start their dining experience off on the right foot. That way, should there be any mistakes during the restaurant service, the stimuli that the customer’s brain was receiving beforehand would help alleviate negativity (Stratton and Zalanowski, 1984) . Weather it is 1940’s Big Band music, smooth Alternative music, or even Musak, music plays an integral part in the demeanor of a consumer in a restaurant.


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