21st February 2017 KVH Studios

The Power of Musical Persuasion

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Let the power of the chord compel you…music has been making people do things they may not ordinarily do for millennia. So how does the beat, song and rhythm of sound persuade people? You might be surprised…


From the ancients, through Romans, and all through history, music has been used to send people into war, into trances, and now even to the store to buy more or to spend longer browsing and choosing what to spend their cash on.

So what is it about music that is so compelling and persuading? Just how do songs or beats make humans act and react in an almost subconscious way, bending and shaping their will?

When it comes to making people stay longer shopping, or making them spend and buy differently while in a store, mall or restaurant – we need to make this power work for us.

In retail it is vital to be able to guide customers, to shape their experience and to make them react in certain positive ways. Retailers need to do all they can to ensure that customers buy or at least try. Music, through in store radio is an influential and a hugely significant part of this.


Fascinatingly, it seems from studies that the effect of music often music runs counter intuitively to how you might think. If you want to de-stress someone, then fast, aggressive music can act as a release, and soothe them. While easy listening and feel good songs can make people more susceptible to external influences.

What this means is that there is a musical sweetspot – a place where fast, upbeat tunes can build people to a crescendo, but can then also make them release that energy, So, it can become very hard to maintain people’s actions with fast, upbeat, or aggressive songs. It is about the slow burn, not the musical flame thrower.

There is a point at which easy, gentle songs can actually make people so relaxed they begin to focus on other things, and can actually be more susceptible and perhaps even manipulated. The reasons why? Well happy people let their guard down, and are willing to have a more open mind.

In a recent study by Queensland University on the effects of music, it was found that when people are in a good mood, they agree more and process information less rigorously. So make customers happy and they will be far more likely to say yes, to whatever the buying proposition.


Galley slaves had to listen to the incessant beating of drums, Zulu warriors made rhythms on their shields, while people have been marching to war behind bagpipes for thousands of years…perhaps praying the piper would be shot first?

But whatever the beat, whatever the instrument or tune being played – music has been the key to compulsion for seemingly all of time. Even Neanderthals are believed to have used animal bones as forms of flute.

Humans have evolved to enjoy, embrace and to be moved by music. This is why instore music is so effective – it is part of a deeply seated human reaction. We are programmed to respond to music without even thinking.

So what are the songs that people use to change mood, to switch themselves up, or to zone themselves out? What can make people march to war or put down their weapons, and what can make lovers out of fighters…and consumers from browsers?


Let’s take a look at 10 of the most uplifting songs ever, as decided by NME…now just what products would these help to fly off the shelves we wonder.

Don Henley – ‘Boys of Summer’: Feel it in the air, the summer may be out of reach –but those bargain products aren’t. One to boost sales of sunglasses and swimming trunks we think.

Blind Melon – ‘No Rain’ – Yes, yes, umbrellas. Probably not good for fancy dress outfits…watch the video, and you’ll see.

Van Halen, ‘Jump’ – One for trampoline fans, surely? Or pogo sticks and space hoppers…do people still sell them? Anyway, this is the tune for the retro toy shops out there.

AC/DC – ‘Back In Black’. Any electrical product would surely be pushed hard by cranking up the DC. Particularly heavy ones made of metal. Toasters perchance?

ELO – ‘Mr Blue Sky’: Selling airline tickets? Well ELO must be the boys to turn too. Or even garden furniture and parasols, Jeff Lynne’s boys are eminently flexible.

Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now’: Controversially, perhaps brake discs? People may think not stopping is cool, until they consider the safety ramifications.

Flaming Lips – ‘Do You Realize?: If its flaming lips you want, then look no further than our fine selection of chili peppers.

Jackie Wilson – ‘(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher’: The anthem of the stairlift generation. Keep reaching for the heights.

Bon Jovi – ‘Livin’ On A Prayer’: Bibles and other religious artefacts…there won’t be a cassock left on the shelf when Jon Bon shouts it out.

The Foundations – ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’: The make-up artists’ favourite. Sales of concealer will surely flourish to this up beat favourite.

Deee-Lite – ‘Groove Is In The Heart’: A good heart (yes, you are right, perhaps we should have gone for Feargal Sharkey) is vital for life…so perhaps Flora Buttery?

Ok, so we’re taking things a bit too far. But the power of music to make a difference is well known and rally can deliver for the needs of all kinds of businesses. Whatever you sell, wherever you sell it – the right music sets the scene, tone and shapes reactions.

What do you think? Would Prince have you reaching to buy more raspberries, the Fratellis for knives, or The Smiths for genealogy guidebooks? Let us know what the songs that think would take you and your sales higher…

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