Make a Playlist for Your Restaurant


“Without music, life would be a mistake,” a quote from the famous Übermensch and German nihilist Friedrich Nietzsche. Whether you listen to Mac Dre or Dark Throne,  Kei$ha or Hank, music sets the tone for your day and is ever evolving throughout your life. As an owner of a bar or restaurant you’re looking to create a unique customer experience, and music should not be a hasty decision. One restaurant group that has not let its size encumber the priority of music as a key ingredient in producing enjoyable customer experiences is the Yard House. Sheena Jacobs is the woman behind the mask for the Yard House’s music program. Every day Sheena has a brand new playlist ready to rock Yard House customers  from the lunch crowd to the wee hours of the morning.

Why do they do it? “…the music is important to us for many reasons.  We feel it has a huge impact on the Guest experience.  With that said, we want to personally participate in that and be able to create the atmosphere and not have a radio station do that for us.” explained Jacobs, ”  We feel that is our responsibility and pleasure to provide this for our Guests. We want the music to match the experience and correspond to which part of the day you are spending with us. It is part of the entire package to us and plays just as important of a role as the food, the beer, the lighting, etc.  It makes it more personal for us and hopefully for our Guests as well.”

While Sheena carefully curates a daily playlist for her restaurants, another successful means for creating a unique and personal feel through music is setting a short list of guidelines for your employees and and allowing them to create playlists during their shifts. Here are 4 great tips to creating your bar or restaurant’s music playlist:


1. Choose Songs That Match Your Theme

Playing Brittany Spears may not be the best choice for your roadside biker bar, but it might be the perfect choice for an all ages ice rink. Think about your demographic some tried and true combinations (leaning towards the side of cliche) might be:

Rustic Wine Bar: Gypsy Kings- Los Panchos- Al Di Meola- Paco De Lucia-Paris Combo

Urban Wine Bar: Stereolab-Feist-Kings of Convenience-Modern Jazz Quartet- Medeski, Martin, & Wood- Handsome Boy Modeling School

Martini Bar: Thievery Corporation- Portishead- Jurassic 5- Goldfrapp

BBQ Roadhouse: Credence Clearwater Revival- Led Zeppelin- Stevie Ray Vaughan- Muddy Waters

Speakeasy: Thelonious Monk- Tom Waits- Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Massive Attack

Heritage Style Craft Beer Bar (let’s not beat around the bush–Hipster Bar): I’d list it but you probably haven’t heard of it.

2. Add Whimsy

Throwing in a song that is fun and makes people smile can make even the most unique and obscure playlists more approachable.  A fool proof way of adding a little whimsy is to find covers of popular songs in the style that you play the most of.

3. Change It Up

Avoid repetition. This means vary the artists, genres, and tempo’s- as subconscious as you think music may be, monotony will come to the forefront of a guests conscious and become apparent and potentially annoying.

4. Keep It Clean

While choosing songs with foul language is a personal choice make sure any present curse words are not *bleeped* out and instead have radio editing (which is essentially just a the vocal track reversed during those words). Radio editing, as obvious as it may be for some, is much cleaner sounding than a jarring *bleep* or even a silent gap in the music.

If you want to remix your vibe it’s as easy as changing up the music to evolve through out the day. Don’t feel creative? It’s guaranteed that here is a member of your team that would be simply ecstatic to curate a few new playlists from their new iPhone 5. Just ask them.


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