Doesn't anyone have any thoughts about background music in a coffeeshop? I had light music in my last coffeehouse, but as a consumer I'm not a fan of music as it interrupts my conversations and/or concentration (when reading, etc.). Should my new coffeehouse have background music? If you have an opinion, let me know.

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Sigur Ros might be the world's "ultimate" coffee shop music.
Yes!! And turn that stuff up!!
Always, always, always have music. If you look at consumer fed rating sites like Yelp, you'll notice that people often say something about the music (whether it was too loud, good selection, etc.). Personally, I'd recommend that you create an extensive playlist which appeals to a broad spectrum of people. Stuff that will easily blend into the backround, but not necessarily only mellow music. Choose stuff that both you and your baristi like, as long as it is coffee shop appropriate. It makes for a fun/hip coffee shop experience.
Isn't that the truth! Talk about stalkers! But just pay, be in compliance, and stop worrying about it. I have found that the best method for my piece of mind.

As for music in the shop, we installed ceiling speakers and have had success with playing a variety of music (depends on whos working, time of day, etc) and have also made both music lovers and the working crowd happy by keeping the front speakers on where our couches and games and such are and keeping the back speakers off in the "working" area. It has been the best of both worlds for us thus far.
Jack Groot said:
If you played CDs I'm guessing you already do this. But, as a reminder: pay the ASCAP, BMI and/or SEASAC fees for the music you play. If you get busted playing music without permission they'll stick your butt to the wall with a big fine. They are nasty and will require you to play ball with them.
I know I'm a little late in posting this, but one thing you need to be aware of is the copyright issue. If you play music in your store, you're supposed to get a license from ASCAP, BMI, or other such company to ensure the artist get a royalty for it (whether or not the artist actually get their money due or not is a different topic that I can go on for a while about). The licenses can be up around $5000 per year, but it depends on the square footage and number of speakers you have in your store. I have heard of ASCAP and BMI sending people out to certain bars and coffee shops and harrassing the owners to buy the licenses. There have also been a few cases that have gone to court.

All those reasons/acceptions listed and the iPod idea from Alex Galt are great reasons why you should have music. But if you compare the number of people that have these license from ASCAP and BMI versus the number of small cafes and bars that play the music without a license, I think you'd find that most people out there don't have a license but play the music anyway. It's just a risk that you'll have to decide if you want to take.

If you can take the time read about it...try Googling "USC Title 17" (this is the laws that govern copyright and there's a section in there about playing music in a store), "ASCAP stories", or "BMI stories". The last two will show you to what lengths they will go to get money from you. One thing to keep in mind is that they can only demand money for music from artist that they "manage" the rights for. Which, generally speaking, is the 3% to 5% of the music that out there and basically is just the stuff played on the radio over the past 15 to 20 years. So if you find artist that aren't under the control of ASCAP, BMI, or SESAC, then you can pay the artist directly for the right to play their music in your store. And if you just have to make a "reasonable search" for the artist to pay them. If you can't...oh well. Most of the time if you look for the record company on the CD case and Google any info on them you'll find a direction to try to get a hold of them.

That's just my opinion and insight on the subject.

Dave

PS: Because you bought the CD doesn't give you the right to publicly perform it. Which is basically what you're doing.
Yes. Play music. An not too quiet, either. Not so loud you can't hear your conversation, but loud enough you can hear the words if you listen.
We have an Open Mic night. Somehow this came across ASCAP's radar and we're now entering year four of harassment. After we started getting weekly letters and thrice weekly phone calls, BMI joined the game (though with less calls) for about a year, then let us be. Despite explaining to ASCAP that our live performances are not in violation of copyright law and that we listen to the radio, not CDs, also in accordance with copyright law, THEY WILL NOT LEAVE US ALONE. The only reason we haven't been dragged into court is that we're not breaking the law, but that doesn't stop them from trying to intimidate us into paying the licensing fees. So please think very very carefully before plugging your ipod or CD player into the store stereo.
Luckily, we've got good commercial free community radio in town. Since copyright law hasn't been updated in a while, music over the internet is a really murky area. Does anyone know if this falls within the exemptions, similar to radio?
Nicole Heitzler said:
We have an Open Mic night. Somehow this came across ASCAP's radar and we're now entering year four of harassment. After we started getting weekly letters and thrice weekly phone calls, BMI joined the game (though with less calls) for about a year, then let us be. Despite explaining to ASCAP that our live performances are not in violation of copyright law and that we listen to the radio, not CDs, also in accordance with copyright law, THEY WILL NOT LEAVE US ALONE. The only reason we haven't been dragged into court is that we're not breaking the law, but that doesn't stop them from trying to intimidate us into paying the licensing fees. So please think very very carefully before plugging your ipod or CD player into the store stereo.
Luckily, we've got good commercial free community radio in town. Since copyright law hasn't been updated in a while, music over the internet is a really murky area. Does anyone know if this falls within the exemptions, similar to radio?

Are any of your customers attorneys? This IS harassment. Maybe you have tried this already, but a pointed letter from an attorney might help? Maybe you could even find one that would do it for free coffee?

What a terrible situation. I wish you luck and hope you can make it stop.
Nicole, sorry to hear about this. Some of those BMI/ASCAP guys are wolves, for sure. Your property is private, and you have the right to refuse service to anyone, and that means kicking them out, and making sure they don't come in. It is harrassment, and a call to their management with a threat to obtain a lawyer.

In looking for good music to play, I came across many posts on here as well as doing some research. 

This paper: 

http://spectrum.library.concordia.ca/7523/1/Ly_MSc_S2011.pdf

A Multi-Method Exploration on Coffee Shop Atmospherics by Li Shang Ly

and

http://www.knu.edu.tw/RD/englishweb/web/ijislmweb/pdf/Vol.2%20No.1(...

A New Coffee Shop Location Planning for Customer Satisfaction in Taiwan by 

Wen-Hwa Ko and Chihwei P. Chiu

http://ec.iem.cyut.edu.tw/drupal/sites/default/files/Turley_2000_Jo...

Atmospheric Effects on Shopping Behavior: A Review of the Experimental Evidence

I was initially looking into what kind of music to play. I was wondering about playing classical music or some lounge music. Classical music is also supported by research as a good type of music to be playing in a retail establishment.

Anyone have experience with playing classical music or lounge at their cafe and feedback from customers?

Good comments and ideas so I had some too like a jukebox  or some way for customers to interact. Ultimately station jacks for head phones and programmable options would be great. Or individual players at tables XD I guess in today's world you may need to add some acoustic design allowing some acoustic privacy. As a testament to the importance of music to people I started "Music you play Loud" on Facebook and had 1000 members in two weeks I trimmed it down but people love them some music and if you cater to well know regulars it brings in business. Ask the talkers what they think:)

Speaking of acoustic privacy, ive considered these sound domes but it may be overkill

www.proaudio.com/product_info.php?products_id=4468

Yes, definitely have music! I agree with many of the above comments that you have to be discerning in your selection, though. Also, try to keep a finger on the pulse of your clientele--i.e. in regards to volume, type of music, etc. To be safe I also recommend the Pandora coffee station, and just keep it at a low volume as background music. Good luck!

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