5 Ways Background Music Can Influence Your Restaurant's Customers

Music is powerful.  It makes us move, changes our mood, and can even give us energy or put us to sleep.  Music has a strong psychological influence over humans, which makes choosing the right background music important for a restaurant.  

But, what psychological variables of the human brain are affected by music?  And how can knowing this help you to develop an amazing atmosphere for your restaurant and increase sales?

Background music services like Dozmia for Business can help select music that produces desired results, but if you’re going DIY, it’s best to know everything you can about the power of music.

Here are 5 ways music can influence your customers’ perceptions, emotions, and actions:

1. Fast and Slow Tempo Music

The speed of music influences our perception of time.  Exposure to fast-paced music can cause us to feel like time is moving faster, while slow-paced music can have an inverse effect.  This means that, for example, if your restaurant is playing high-tempo songs in the background, your customers may feel as if they’ve been in your restaurant longer than they actually have.  Because of this, faster music can lead to increased table turnover. Slowing music, conversely, can cause your customers to remain in your restaurant longer and potentially buy more food and drinks.

2. Volume

High volume music, especially when combined with fast-paced music, can increase our heart rates, resulting in a faster performance of given activities, this is why we listen to our music louder during exercise.  Though high levels of volume may help increase your restaurant’s table turn rate by causing customers to eat faster, high levels of volume are also shown to suppress appetite and even reduce our ability to perceive taste, which may result in lower average check amounts.  Additionally, loud music can interfere with any socializing among friends, family, and other customers and therefore lead to a negative dining experience for your guests.

3. Music Tonality and Mood

The tonality of a song is expressed in a major or minor key.  Major key songs have a happy sound, while minor key songs usually sound sad.  Check out this song for an example of a major key song, then this song for an example of a minor key song.  Both songs are amazing (in my opinion), but the first one sounds much happier than the second.

While minor key songs are more emotionally satisfying, they can put people in a more negative mood than major key songs can.  Because of this, it’s best to play major key songs in your restaurant so your customers can develop positive brand associations.  Not only that, but musical tonality can affect our perception of someone else’s mood, so major key music can make your staff seem even more friendly.

4. Perceived Price

The right type of music can influence how customers perceive menu items.  If your restaurant is expensive, classical music might suppress the shock of expensive prices and result in higher sales.  Many restaurants make the mistake of creating an atmosphere that creates an expectation of high prices, but then play fast-paced pop music to increase table turnover.  Pop music can actually cause customers to perceive prices as higher, which can lead to lower average check amounts.

5. Simple and Complex Music

Complex genres like heavy metal and jazz take more focus to listen to than simpler genres such as pop or hip-hop.  In some cases, this means that more complex music can be more distracting to customers, which can draw attention away from other sensory elements in your restaurant (like, most importantly, the food).  If music is an extreme focus of your restaurant’s theme, more complex music might make sense, but if you’re looking for background music to compliment the décor and food, simple music is better.


If you would like to learn more about improving the guest experience at your restaurant check out Split, an innovative solution for restaurants that helps connect restaurants with their customers through mobile technology.


Writer Bio: Nick Rubright is the founder and CEO of Dozmia, a music streaming service that provides background music for businesses. He has a passion for helping musicians in their careers, as well as helping businesses find their sound.