Is Audio Programming Right For Your Shop?

Music is an important sensory cue to the overall shopping experience—and savvy retailers know it. Take a peek in the backrooms of any leading-edge retailer like K-Five in Encinitas, California, and you’ll be confronted with a bank of electronics that would make the typical Luddite break out into a sweat.

But you don’t need a J.Lo-sized budget to bring high-quality music into your store. Just ask DMX. No, not the hardcore rapper. DMX Music is a company that specializes in customized music solutions. The company’s most basic setup costs 65 dollars a month, which includes the music programming, equipment, and licenses and royalties, according to DMX Vice President Christy Noel.

One DMX client is Becker Surfboards, which has the company’s hardware installed in five locations of its six-store chain. “We went with DMX because it had a better lineup of music than the others out there, says General Manager Steve Mellem. “You can hear thousands of different songs, instead of hearing the same songs multiple times in one day, he says.

Mellem says that before they had DMX, it was hard for employees to agree on a CD. “But if we decide on a certain {DMX} station to listen to all day, then it’s usually never an issue. We can choose from among 60 to 100 stations and we hear a selection of thousands of songs, says Mellem.

While clients like Becker have been pleased with the DMX satellite system in their store, with new technology like iPods and easily burned mix CDs, many retailers have not felt the need to hire a music provider—especially smaller shops.

Still, more and more shops are seeking out viable alternatives. Another popular music provider is XM Satellite Radio. Val Surf is a three-store chain in Southern California that uses XM. According to Manager Brandon Richards, they’ve been using XM radio for about two years, and they’re satisfied with the system but say it has one downfall: “The radio is not totally censored, says Richards, “so sometimes the parents get upset with us. But other than that, it’s great.

In the age of digital technology, deciding how to play music in your store depends on how willing you are to spend the money on a music provider. For the larger shops with more than one location, digital music services seem to be worth the money to have a stable music environment. Still, “good-old-fashioned CDs and the radio are working successfully for many shops.