If you thought Muzak, the “elevator music” we loved to hate, was a thing of the past, think again. OK … technically, Muzak as a company is gone; it was acquired in 2011 for $345 million by a Texas company called Mood Media. But its focus remains as solid as ever. Why? Because that music you hear in your favorite retailer most likely isn’t being played at random.
Muzak launched in 1934 based on a groundbreaking idea called “stimulus production,” which was that background music (mostly instrumental music played at very low levels) boosted worker productivity in offices. Based on this idea, the company sold its services to workplaces for decades. Its acquisition by Mood Media, which at the time was the leading provider of sensory marketing (retail music, visuals and scent marketing to help clients drive sales), made perfect sense.
Now, more retailers are banking on that idea to sell their products, and music is a critical component in that strategy.
Target, a client of Mood Media, began experimenting with the idea of curated music playlists in 2011, according to Liz Hancock, a spokesperson for the retail giant. As of July 2017, the company had music in 180 of its stores and was still rolling it out in others.
“Target first tested overhead music in fall 2011 when our Ridgedale store in Minnetonka, Minnesota was remodeled,” Hancock said via email. “Guest and team member feedback was almost universally positive. Since then, speakers to play overhead music have been…