Setting Mood: A Q&A with Ambiance Radio

By Bradley Newberger

Why is background music important and what can it do for me?

Unlike many other types of businesses, restaurants, food outlets and hotels do not operate in a “steady state” every hour of every day. They tend to change dynamically depending on the time day of day and day of week. Often hospitality venues want to create specific moods and “ambiance” in different day parts. Playing the wrong music for the space does nothing good. It literally is just filling the room with junk sound. By using the Science of MusicTM, Ambiance Radio helps operators run their business more efficiently.

How is what you are offering different from other background music services in the market?

There are four key differentiators for us. First, we are the only background music service geared specifically for restaurants, hotels, resorts and spas. We do this by combining proven science, 21st century technology and our hospitality industry knowledge to create specific results. Secondly, we use our proprietary software and cutting-edge technology to consistently deliver fully customized, always changing music feeds tailored to each site’s needs each hour of each day – we don’t do canned, one-size-fits-all “channels.” Third, our system takes “personal taste” out of the programming equation – we are playing what is right for the guests, not what the manager on duty likes to hear. Lastly, our system automates the music changes throughout the day, so employees do not need to touch the dial. In terms of cost, we are comparable to what the mass produced, largely generic music services charge and a lot less expensive than the “hand made” services. 

How does your proprietary system work?

Applying the Science of the Music adeptly and consistently, we provide each venue “The Right Music”, which we have proven can actually increase top line revenues, make guests feel good about their experience and help managers run their business more efficiently by keeping staff upbeat and engaged. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about which song you or I or the local manager wants to hear, but what’s “The Right Music” for the environment. Our proprietary process discovers and delivers this. When we’re working with a new client, we gather information about the business objectives, guest demographics and changes that take place throughout the day, among other factors. The data is crunched by our Ambiator system, which applies the Science and matches the music to the room, day by day, hour by hour. Our fault-tolerant and failsafe Player then ensures that “The Right Music” is always playing, all day, every day without anyone on site needing to do anything – they don’t even need to remember to turn it on and off.  Outages due to satellite or Internet interruptions just don’t happen with Ambiance Radio

I have a limited service hotel or a QSR restaurant; can background music really make a difference?

There is a perception amongst many restaurant and hotel operators that music is needed only so that the room the does not feel empty. A surprising number of people are simply not aware of the powerful, positive benefits that the right music can provide.  Limited Service Hotels and QSRs often pump in the cheapest junk sound they can find just to fill the space, not realizing that it can actually be detrimental. Many even play TVs, but think about this: your guests come from all walks of life and the often controversial programming even on innocuous-seeming networks can set people off, distracting them from the emotional message you are trying to convey by your design, service standards, menu or what have you. Controlling the soundtrack in your venue can profoundly affect how people feel about and behave while they are there—and can help determine if they will ever return.

Who are some of your clients and how have their businesses benefitted from your service?

Ambiance Radio is currently installed in select corporate and franchise units of brands such as Schlotzsky’s Deli, Quaker Steak and Lube, WOW Cafe, PJ’s Coffee, Freebirds, and Carlos O’Kelly’s, among many others, and in hotels ranging from limited service brands to five star resorts. When we go into a new space, it’s definitely noticeable. Guests and staff both comment that something is different and better. Music is something that can immediately transform any room and is one of the least expensive ways to make a huge impact—we call it the world’s least expensive remodel. Research has proven that the Right Music can increase top line F&B revenues from 5 to 20%, depending on the time of day and music played. Music can make waiting in line at a counter or to pick up an order feel shorter than it actual is. Perhaps as importantly, music plays a big role in employee performance. Productivity can be increased with the Right Music.

How did Ambiance Radio get started?

Ambiance Radio dates back to my senior year at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. I was working as a manager at Taverna Banfi, a restaurant attached to the school. The restaurant had recently been renovated and had the look and feel of a Tuscan-style bistro. Everything was authentic Italian except one thing: the music. It was awful. The need to find a better way to do music in a hospitality setting set me on a quest which, two years later, became the company called Ambiance Radio. During that time, my co-founders and I absorbed decades of scientific and academic research – what we call the Science of MusicTM – developed a series of proprietary processes to consistently apply the science to meet the individual needs of each venue, organized the company and built our team. After rigorous testing, we launched commercially in early 2011.