The Role of Music in the User Experience
When it comes to conjuring up a certain vibe, music is a potent force. In-store soundtracks have long been a part of retail’s strategy to create a specific feeling for customers browsing their racks. In fact, music is such an intrinsic part of the clothes shopping experience, imagining shopping without music playing over the store’s sound system is almost unfathomable.
Playlists Becoming Big Business for Retailers
That said, it stands to reason that curating the songs that play while customers shop has become a big business, and some of the biggest retail brands in the world are paying companies to hand-select their in-store playlists to match the clientele and mood they’re trying to create, including everything from the song and artist selection to the volume it’s played at.
These commercial music curation companies, most notably Mood Media and PlayNetwork, create and distribute tailor-made playlists for stores, including behind the scenes tasks like securing licensing rights. Brands like Gap, Marc Jacobs, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Bath & Body Works are just some of the brands utilizing these companies to create their soundtracks, according to Racked.
Matching In-Store Soundtracks to Customers and Neighborhoods
Some brands even have in-house staff whose sole responsibility is selecting the in-store soundtrack, armed with the advantage of knowing the store’s aesthetic, products and customer base. 
Sarah Lewitinn is Canadian fashion retailer Aritzia’s in-house music director. She recently told RackedThe music I choose is what a girl listens to when she is getting ready to go out. I make sure that the music will make a girl feel sexy. It will let her imagine herself in the scenario: where she’s getting ready to go out for the night and is blasting that mixtape that makes her feel good.”
Lewitinn creates in-store playlists each week for Aritzia’s 80 locations in the U.S. and Canada, designed specifically to match the store’s personality. She even chooses music based on the neighborhood in which the store is located, for example, choosing the latest hip-hop tracks for the brand’s SoHo location in New York City, but for a location in a more buttoned-up neighborhood like Rockefeller Center, she says she opts for a more mellow vibe.
Paying close attention to what customers want to feel while shopping is a cornerstone to proper music selection, and retailers are taking notice more and more of a store soundtrack’s power and its effect on their customers.

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