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How to Get Your Music in Stores, Restaurants, Hotels, & More

How to Get Your Music in Stores, Restaurants, Hotels, & More

A Guest Post by Symphonic Distribution

Symphonic Distribution has been working to develop a licensing program that is valuable to artists of all musical genres and covers all ends of the licensing spectrum. Therefore, on top of our sync licensing offerings, it is no surprise that we have established partnerships with Eos Music in addition to the world’s largest branding company for background music, Mood Media.

As an independent artist or record label, why should you care? Because getting your music in the hands of these companies’ music curators means that your music will be heard by businesses and people within those businesses all over the world. It’s a virtual guarantee of mainstream exposure. They aren’t just looking for mainstream Top 40 – they need music of almost all genres and moods for their clients.

Companies like Mood Media control the soundtrack to people’s everyday lives. Mood’s clients are some of the biggest brands in the world. If you’ve caught yourself lately running to Petco to grab dog food, stopping by Krispy Kreme for a donut, shopping at Guess Marciano for your Friday night bachelorette party outfit, or eating out at Texas Roadhouse, the music you heard was music on a Mood Media Program Channel, explicitly designed for that particular brand. They weren’t just playing radio. Companies like Mood Media control the music you consciously or subconsciously hear when you go shopping at department stores, retail stores, head to fast-food joints, spas, shopping malls, restaurants of all kinds, chic lounges, pharmacies, you name it.

We’re here to help you understand the intricacies of how these companies choose music and what you can do to get your music on their music channels.

The music curators – at Mood, they are aptly called “Music Designers” – hand-select music, track by track, for placement on their music channels. Each music channel is tailored to certain genres and moods, vibes, lyrical themes, and other important musical characteristics. In other words, it’s not as simple as throwing a bunch of cool-sounding hip-hop songs into a hip-hop channel.

What they seek is music that rests on the subtle line between light enough to be in the “background” not bothering customers during their in-store experiences, and strong enough to stand out in the “foreground,” strike the right chord, and hit their clients’ customers right at the “Point of Purchase.”

Mood Music Designer Erin Yousef explains the complexity of their listening and approval process:

Music Design is not about identifying a suitable genre and filling a playlist with songs from the relevant chart. It requires both careful listening to the music and careful listening to the client. If a brand sells soft leather bags and wants that reflected in their custom sound, the Music Designer must figure out what the product “sounds” like. … Many elements are considered including tempo, mood, lyrics, artists, and instrumentation. Put another way, how does the song make you feel, why does it make you feel that way, and how does this particular combination of songs work together to create something special?

It’s no wonder that Music Designers are so selective. A LOT of people are going to be listening to the music they approve. Brands are super picky about the music played in stores. It creates an experience for their customers! There are literally scholarly papers written by music psychologists about the influence music has on in-store customers’ psyches and purchase decisions. It’s not just an art – it’s a science.

As part of our licensing department initiatives, Symphonic Distribution acts as a pre-screening curator portal for eligible record labels and independent artists to submit music to Mood Music Designers for potential approval and ingestion into the channels. (By eligible, I mean the usual: The music you submit must be cleared for licensing on both master & publishing sides. It cannot contain any un-cleared samples, regardless of length.) Symphonic’s Licensing Department has formed relationships with the channels’ Music Designers and is familiar with the intricacies of each channels’ specific music needs. I pre-screen your music, track by track. First, I analyze each track’s musical qualities to determine whether or not it’s suitable for any of the 180+ channels. If it works, I then identify to which Music Designer to send your music. I create a unique playlist for each submission tailored to each channels’ needs. My pre-screening listening process is a little less intricate than that of the Music Designers, but here’s a general idea of what I’m listening for:

Genre, Instrumentation, & Mood

There are many genres that just do not work for background music. For example, there is no channel containing dubstep or heavy drum & bass. Dubstep and drum & bass aren’t currently mainstream enough for there to be a channel dedicated to them, plus its musical elements are seen as too abrasive (“abrasive” is a common word used by Music Designers to describe inappropriate music for their channels!). In contrast, there is a channel dedicated to metal, which can be abrasive to some ears but is mainstream enough – and for certain brands perfectly serves their identity. There are dance/house music channels, but heavy electro house bangers are too abrasive for background music. In the house music realm, Eos & Mood Music Designers are looking for upbeat, melodic house music, usually with vocals. This can fall into the realms of deep house a la chic city lounge (think W Hotels), lighter progressive house with not too many build-ups and drops, and straight-up classic house music.


Non-explicit lyrics are typically preferred, but there are a few select niche channels that do accept explicit lyrics (urban hip-hop, metal). Music Designers will also look at lyrical themes.

And yes, there’s money involved too. Royalties will be coming from two sides: From the background music company itself (or from your distributor collecting revenue on your behalf from the company), and from the songwriters’ PRO in most cases (dependant on the relationship Mood has with that particular client).

Of course there are channels dedicated to Top 40 mainstream pop music and adult alternative contemporary music. But this is only a small portion of channels. At the end of the day, Eos & Mood Media are looking for appropriate music with high production quality, regardless of the artist’s fan base size. There are channels for almost every mood and company type you can think of. If you’re an independent artist or record label, these platforms are a fantastic outlet for new audiences and mainstream exposure all over the world – and another income stream.

Want to get music on Mood and Eos? Fill out our licensing application and Symphonic will screen through your catalog.

By Kaitlyn Raterman

Publishing & Licensing Manager

Symphonic Distribution

Symphonic Distribution was launched in the winter of 2006 by a Music Producer from Tampa, Florida. The company was launched with the intention of providing new and established record labels cost effective digital distribution to retailers such as iTunes, Beatport, Rhapsody, Amazon, and more with a strong emphasis on customer satisfaction. By the end of 2007, the company struck agreements with over 250 record labels, and improved its offerings to include additional services such as Mastering, Marketing, Label/Artist Development, and more.


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