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What you need for great cafe music

If you run a busy cafe you know how important the atmosphere is. Music can be a powerful way to create a mood, and a great cafe playlist can improve your customers’ experience and reflect your brand.

You want customers to enjoy their coffee and food enough to return as repeat customers, and the worst thing you could do is choose cafe music that has a negative influence on your cafe atmosphere. Plus, using the personal playlists of your staff can be both inconsistent and illegal.

In today’s post, we’ll look at some of the things you should consider to produce a great atmosphere of cafe music, with legal cafe playlists that keep your cafe out of trouble and in demand as a great place to enjoy food and coffee.

Consider a theme

Does your cafe have a theme? If you’re located near a beach, you might want to feature surf music or Hawaiian tracks. If you’re in the great outback, would country music resonate with your customers? An inner-city cafe patronised by millennials might like indie music alongside their street art, while a leafy boomer cafe could succeed with classical music or jazz.

When choosing a theme, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are your brand values?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What do they like about your cafe?
  • What kind of music do they like?

Be consistent

If your cafe playlist changes every time your staff change shifts, you’re unlikely to provide a consistent musical experience for your customers. Just as your brand has consistent attributes like colours, logo and values, your cafe music should be consistent.

Of course, you should still allow for flexibility within the broad parameters that a great cafe playlist provides.

Be compliant 

A lot of cafe owners are not aware that personal music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music are not licensed for commercial use. In fact, any music played in your cafe needs a license, which you can get from OneMusic Australia. Prices start from $100 per year and are based on capacity.

OneMusic also produces a handy Background Music Guide that lists dozens of licensed providers of commercial music services, as alternatives to consumer ones.

Some of these, like Soundproof solutions, will curate cafe playlists specific to your brand and tailored for different times of the day. Apple Music for Business is always developing new playlists and can create a custom sound for your cafe playlist.

Among the providers, at least one company, Nightlife, offers legal integration of Spotify playlists through their system.

Schedule your cafe playlists

You know your customers’ moods change throughout the day. The morning rush has a different feel to lunchtime, after work or in the evening. You should schedule your cafe playlists across the day to help create an atmosphere that is sympathetic to your customers.

You could go to Spotify and select a Mood like these examples:

Or search for times of day, like these Essential evening playlists:

 Another approach is to choose a genre that sets the tone you want:

Laidback beats

Stress free ambient

If you want to piggyback off the success of great restaurants you can find some of their Spotify playlists here.

Royalty-free music

 Some websites provide music free of royalties, meaning you don’t need a licence to use them. You won’t find the latest popular music tracks, but you might be happy with the background music they provide. Make sure you read the Terms and Conditions first:


If you’re currently playing the radio in your cafe without a license, you are unwittingly breaking the law. To be safe, get a licence from OneMusic Australia.

This is one of the most affordable ways of creating background cafe music. You can select from a wide range of musical styles and genres like jazz, country, rock or ambient; decades like the 60s, 70s or 80s; or even stations devoted to discovering new talent, like triple j Unearthed.

Your next steps

Spend some time determining the right kind of cafe music for your cafe. Getting the overall feel of it is more important than the micro details, which you can leave to the playlist or playlist provider. Then take steps to source a legal solution that will provide your customers with exactly the cafe playlist they want.

But what’s a great cafe atmosphere without the perfect coffee? Continue to create an enticing environment by serving high-quality, consistent coffee that keeps your customers coming back for more, day after day.

Click here to learn more about Lavazza’s 360° offer which includes an excellent full support, customer experience for you and your team, world class coffee training and sustainably-sourced coffee backed by the global Lavazza brand.

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