The Endless Ambient Music in Food Service

I only started working in the the food service industry this past year, but I have frequented cafes and the like for a very long time. One thing I have noticed is that the music rarely changes, if ever. Another thing I notice is that it is almost invariably annoying, too loud, or highly repetitive.

Let’s start with my first point. For those of you who don’t know me well, I basically lived in Starbucks at my university. I lived off campus and as a central, high traffic location, I used to hang out there and it had the right amount of white noise, so I studied there as well. I eventually picked up a job there as well, but there’s one thing that always ruined it for me: the music. Granted, the playlist was fairly long (about 3-4 hours apiece, I believe), but considering the amount of time I spent there on a daily basis, this is not a large amount of music. The reggae part of the playlist was alright; I once heard “Stand by me” five times in a day. However, as far as I could tell, the playlist only ever changed once every few months are so (Christmas music started playing in early November, but that’s a whole other story…I’m of the “no Christmas until after Thanksgiving” camp).

Starbucks is far better than most other places in terms of music. At my current place of work, we cycle through the same 2 CD’s. The Japanese restaurant I enjoyed visiting in Rochester only played 1 CD of Japanese pop music that seemed only 20 minutes long. As a musician, I can’t help but pay attention to this stuff and it all gets stuck in my head.

I would also greatly appreciate it if music was kept at a softer level. I understand that sometimes, the music needs to be a bit louder because there are more people, but when there are 6 people in your restaurant/cafe/food establishment, it is absolutely unnecessary to blast your music at 100 decibels (that’s the sound intensity of a jackhammer). Obviously, I’m exaggerating a little, but please. Keep it down.

A final point of amusement for everyone that has ever been in Starbucks who has heard this song played and all my fellow baristas. Working at Starbucks, I want to hug the design engineer that made it so that you can’t hear the music playing throughout the cafe if it’s playing at an acceptable volume. There is this one song that goes on for about 15 minutes. It’s kind of jazzy, or tries to be, but it’s got a weird man sort of talking/singing. However, there’s a soprano saxophone in various sections that plays a 6-7 note diddy (longer in other parts) fairly consistently that pierces through all sound. When you’re behind the counter, you’re blissfully oblivious to all music being played…until you hear that damn sax. Everyone just sort of rolls their eyes and tries to ignore, but it’s too difficult. The 15 minutes drag on until the next song comes on.

Moral of this story? Please try to have an appropriate amount of music proportional to the number of hours that you’re open. Rotate it if you can. And keep it down…I have enough trouble having a normal conversation in a noisy, public place anyway without that extra barrier.

Finally, if you could leave the soprano sax at the door, that would be great too. Thanks 🙂

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2 thoughts on “The Endless Ambient Music in Food Service

  1. Pingback: Anatomy of a Starbucks drink: A Primer « The Wacky World of Guang Yi's Mind

  2. Pingback: Writing Sample 6 – Anatomy of Starbucks Drinks – Guang Yi's Portfolio

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