The Sound of Backyard Grilling

Firms like Muzak and DMX are working with top restaurants and retailers to create environments that bring target customers in the door, encourage them to spend money, and build the customer loyalty that drives return visits. Once synonymous with elevator music, Muzak has shed its old skin and moved into the 21st century with customizable video and audio play lists. And DMX takes sensory branding even farther by offering brand-enhancing audio messaging, video, and scent.A business’s background music is like an aural pheromone. It attracts some customers and repels others, and it gives pedestrians walking past the front door an immediate clue about whether they belong inside. A chain like J. C. Penney, whose huge customer base includes all ages and income levels, needs a program that will make everyone feel welcome, so its soundtrack contains familiar and relatively unassertive popular songs like “Kind and Generous,” by Natalie Merchant. The Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, which appeals to a more narrowly focused audience, plays “Girls, Girls, Girls,” by Mötley Crüe, and cranks up the volume.Excerpted from David Owen’s article “The Soundtrack of Your Life” in the April 10, 2006 issue of The New Yorker. Read the full article about audio architecture and Muzak here.

So if music encourages us to connect with a brand because it makes us feel good as consumers, there’s only one question left to ask: What does Punk’s Backyard Grill sound like?

We’d love to hear from you, so pretend you’re an audio architect and choose a song or two that make you feel like you’re grilling out in your backyard. Email your song suggestions to, and we’ll post the Punk’s playlist next week. Happy listening!


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