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Background Music (BGM)

Background Music and Radio

Commercial and Workplace Background Music (BGM)

Many industry sectors and wider business workplaces, use background music and background radio to provide non-intrusive 'low level' (often described as passive) audio levels to help improve and enhance the installation setting (for example, within factory production or retail shopping settings). BGM offers the choice of stored music playback (through CD, SD, media players) or live broadcast of private/public radio. Generally speaking, BGM volume levels are chosen and set so that the audio can be listened to and enjoyed without adverse impact to the setting activities (the example factory production workers and retail staff can easily talk and communicate above the low level BGM).

Why Use BGM in the Workplace?

"Your senses collaborate to create a unified impression of your experience. People tend to think of sight first, but when it comes to designing for the senses, we respond just as strongly to sound. In fact, sound reaches the mind first, much quicker than touch or vision. Music is one of the most useful components in an efficient interior strategy."

(Source: HUI Research)

Workplace BGM

There are two primary reasons BGM is used within the workplace:

  1. To improve public/visitor experience, helping to influence sales and customer decisions (eg. retail, services, hospitality, leisure).
  2. As part of wider employer efforts to set and improve employee working environments (eg. factories, production, warehousing, workshop).

Studies looking at BGM within the workplace have largely concluded and confirmed that for most people, in most setting instances, BGM does play a positive role in it's purpose and influences as described above. However, recognition is also made to negative BGM influences through poor system design and installation, incompatible branding to music type/genre selection and high volume levels.

Commercial BGM Studies

There have been numerous studies into the use of BGM within commercial settings. Among others Milliman, 1982; Areni, 2003; Lammers, 2003; North et al., 2000 and 2003; Yalch, R.F., & Spangenberg, E. 1990; Roehm, M.L. 2011.

However, most of these studies have been small in scale or have been quite selective and prescriptive in both study definition and conclusion (determining only that BGM does have effect and influence on sales and customer decisions but not delving further into why against positive and negative reaction).

One of the largest and most detailed studies carried out so far 'music in commercial settings' (with a particular focus on restaurants and hospitality sector) was conducted in 2017 by HUI Research. The study covering 1.8 million transactions and 2,101 customer surveys helps to extend wider previous study knowledge. This study introduces the important concept of 'brand fit music and BGM' which explores how music selection can have both positive and negative customer influences. The study also examines how businesses can refine their use of BGM alongside other marketing strategy in creating and supporting 'brand' awareness.

HUI Research and Study Paper:

"Congruence between in-store music and brand values increased sales."

(Source: Professor Sven-Olov Daunfeldt, HUI Research)

Background Music | Radio Solutions and Products

Typical, traditional BGM application solutions will contain:

Local Music audio source: From local storage - eg. CD, MP3, USB players
Streaming Music audio source: Tracks and playlists from local audio server or internet (eg. Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, Shoutcast)
Radio audio source: From an FM/DAB/DAB+ and Internet radio tuners
Mixer / Amplifier: To provide the basic audio processing and output power
Audio Matrix / DSP: Enhanced audio 'routing' and control. Audio zone control, including multi-BGM music source to different rooms/areas/zones.
Loudspeakers: To produce the audio/music

IP BGM utilises an IP network (LAN, WAN and Internet) to distribute and stream IP BGM Music and IP Radio. Improved and new BGM topologies and solution designs can be created when using IP BGM (not possible with traditional audio products and technology). For example, a large retail company or multi-site commercial organisation could choose to centralise their BGM service from a single location within their network or even with a 3rd party BGM provider (some internet ones now exist). In this way, IP BGM provides improved control and deployment flexibility of streaming IP music and radio throughout the stores and/or organisation.

Background Music | Radio and Licencing

Music in the Workplace

When considering background music or background radio in the UK (commercial or public broadcast), there are two primary organisations and licencing authorities you must consider.

The Public Performance Licencing (PPL): This organisation licences 'recorded' music for public and/or commercial broadcast. The PPL focus is to the performers and artists. It collects and distributes licence fees as royalties, to recording artists and other qualifying members.

The Performing Rights Society (PRS): This organisation represents songwriters, composers (including lyrics) and music publishing companies. The PRS collects and distributes royalties on their behalf.

Do I need both licences? Song writers, performers and the music industry protects and enforces copyright through licencing. In all situations, we would always advise your direct contact with both licencing organisations to ascertain your specific licencing requirements. However, if you plan to use BGM in the workplace and/or publically, then you will almost certainly require both licences (even if you plan for a radio only BGM, as the music, ads and 'jingles' are protected).

NOTE: New for 2018. To help simplify and improve licencing for BGM users/customers, the PPL and PRS have created a joint venture business called 'The Music Licence'. Existing and new licencing requires contact only with this single new organisation and not with the PPL and PRS separately as previously. The new licencing organisation and details about 'The Music Licence' can be found at:

Royalty Free Music

The Music Licence

There is an increasing quantity and avilability of 'Royalty Free' music, tracks and playlists for direct purchase, download, create playlists, use and play (individual and commercial use). Whilst not generally containing royalty paid commercial music most people would recognise from the music charts, royalty free music is a viable alternative for background music playback within many commercial settings (eg. retail, hotels, restaurants and reception spaces).

Best of all, royalty free music is generally free from broadcast licencing and associated licencing costs (note: in all cases we advise customer contact with the PPL/PRS to confirm this position).

How does Royalty Free music work?

CC Licences

Musicians, composers and artists create music (authors). To distribute their music, authors may choose to use release their songs under something called Creative Commons Licences. These licences generally provide 'free' distribution of music, but apply different copyright licencing for individual and commercial use.

This table shows the various use and restrictions available for music authors to choose when distributing their music through Creative Commons Licences.

As shown, music released under 'public domain' is completely free for individual and commercial use and without attribution to the author. Music released under CC BY licence is also free for use by individuals and commercial, but requires 'attribution' to the author. 

Background Music (BGM): Example Client Projects

The following are client project examples using Background Music (BGM) Systems.

Background Music (BGM) Client Project Wagamama - Rushden Lakes
(Restaurant / Hospitality)
  • Multi-zone BGM System Design
  • Wall Control for Speaker and Volume
  • Local BGM Player with Web Updates
  • Royalty and Licence Free BGM Example
Background Music (BGM) Client Project VBites - Newcastle
(Food Production, Factory)
  • Typical Factory BGM Installation
  • Traditional Audio, Single Zone
  • FM / DAB Tuner for Radio BGM
  • Royalty and Licence Paid BGM Example
Background Music (BGM) Client Project Premier Foods - Worksop
(Factory / Food Production)
  • Large Factory Site
  • BGM to Production and Warehouse
  • Class 'D' Power Amps | High Power
  • Multiple Local Volume Controls
Background Music (BGM) Client Project Wren Kitchens - Scunthorpe
(Factory / Kitchen Manufacturer)
  • Traditional Audio, Multi-Zone
  • FM / DAB Tuner for Radio BGM
  • Distributed Amplifier Design Solution
  • Royalty Paid BGM Example

MORE: Clients and Projects Clients and Projects