The Best Music Playlists for Art Galleries, Museum and Exhibits

The Best Music Playlists for Art Galleries, Museum and Exhibits

When you walk into a coffee shop, retail store, spa, or gym, the music is one of the first things you might notice. The background music you hear is rarely played by chance but rather carefully selected by business owners who understand that different genres of music impact customers and guests in different ways. 

Posted on September 7, 2023

The right music genre can energize a person running on a treadmill, for example, or relax a person enjoying a full body massage. Inside a museum, art gallery, or exhibit, music can influence everything from the way art lovers and guests physically move through space to how well they remember the artwork and even the way they feel about the overall experience.

From contemporary art  and modern art to renowned artists from Da Vinci, van Gogh, Picasso, Monet, Matisse, and  Magritte to American artists such as Hopper, Pollock, Rockwell and Haring, the unique style portrayed inside your museum, art gallery, or exhibit demands the right soundtrack. The ideal background music for a museum or gallery in New York, for example, may miss the mark inside a Paris museum. 

What kind of music is played at a museum?

Some of the most popular playlists streamed in museums, art galleries and exhibits include Ambient, Classical, Instrumental, Electronic, Jazz, and World music.  However, it’s the cultural contents and mediums of the museum or exhibit that influence the right selection of music to play. In a gallery featuring pieces from a more current era, for example, slightly more modern music can do the trick.

Whatever your goals, play music with a low music rhythm, which can help drive the type of reflection and imagination that keeps your customers and guests lingering for longer. Unless of course the goal is for visitors to leave (perhaps because the museum or closing or the exhibition is running out). In this case, a higher rhythm of music can get them out the door faster. 

Music volume is about striking that perfect point between too high (and pushing the cultural pieces to the background) and too low (and reaching a point where the music has no effect on visitors). 

You can also score bonus points by syncing other elements in perfect harmony with the music such as decorations, lights, or colors. Classical music, for example, clashes with very bright and electric colors. White and other more elegant and discreet colors harmonize better with this type of music.

The impact of music on your guests.

Background music triggers feelings, memories, and emotions inside the human body. Inside the human brain, we are hardwired to respond to music rhythm, syncopation, and melody. From general mood to concentration, background music plays a pivotal role in how much your customers and guests can enjoy everything your museum, art gallery, or exhibit has to offer. 

Logic might suggest that monotonous sounds or even silence are ideal to help people focus at a museum, exhibition, or gallery. However, strong beats and even slightly more “chaotic” sounds from other instruments can not only improve concentration but also influence positive feelings. As our left and right brains take in music at the same time, there are conscious and unconscious mechanisms at work, impacting our perception of time, space, internal rhythm, mood, and more. 

Setting the right tone, flow, mood, and more.

The right background music for your museum, art gallery, or exhibit sets the tone and flow for your guest experience, influencing emotional and physical changes inside the mind and body. Music helps create the theme or art style of your exhibit and even helps your guests keep chronological time as they move from one part of your exhibit to another. 

The right genre or era of music can enhance your unique customer experience. For example, instrumental versions of pop songs from the 50s or 60s can help set the mood, tone, and brand experience inside an Andy Warhol or Jackson Pollock exhibit. On the flip side of the coin, gentle, classical music can capture the essence of a classical exhibit featuring works from the Renaissance or Enlightenment. Just think about the music that influenced the painters and their culture and you can start creating the best music playlist for your unique museum, art gallery, or exhibit. 

Where do museums get their music?

Some museums, art galleries, or exhibits have historically played CD’s, but many have recently moved to commercial music streaming for more flexibility and a broader music selection. The one thing to be aware of is that consumer streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora are not licensed for commercial use and put you at risk of fines and legal consequences. Improper use of consumer music services are solely licensed for personal use therefore don’t provide music artists and songwriters with the proper remuneration for use in a business, commercial or public space. 

Soundtrack Your Brand is a licensed commercial streaming music service that keeps you legal and compliant while playing music in your museum, gallery or exhibit. With the largest global music catalog designed for commercial use, we pay attention to the fine details in order to meet your unique experience and to take business music streaming to the next level, helping you save money. In the U.S. and Canada Soundtrack includes performing rights licenses including ASCAP, BMI, GMR, or SoCan.

With Soundtrack Your Brand’s made for business tools, you can select the perfect playlists and lengths, curated especially to complement the customer experience and enhance the ambiance inside your museum, gallery, or art exhibit. Take advantage of our advanced scheduling tool, so there’s always something fresh on deck. You can even keep your music family friendly with an explicit lyrics filter.

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