The most important thing in your taproom is music.
You heard me. It's not your beer, it's music. Think about it...
What is the first thing a patron notices when they enter your taproom? It's not the beer, it's not even the décor, it's what they hear the split second after opening the door. Your jams (or lack of).
The importance of music goes beyond first impression. Music creates atmosphere.It helps to fill a space with more than just light and objects - it sets the tone of your taproom. Silence is a void that creates awkward and uncomfortable feelings. Make your taproom comfortable and fun, and people will want to stay, and come back.
Silence can make a space feel smaller
Silence is the worst.
Let me rephrase that...Silence is the worst when there are other groups of people around.
Image you and your significant other are on a date at a nice restaurant. You sit down at your table and start talking over a few drinks. As the night goes on, other couples are seated at tables nearby. This particular restaurant has decided not to have any music playing in the dining room - and try as you may, you can't keep yourself from hearing the conversations going on around you. It's hard to concentrate on your own conversation and even harder to keep it private.
Music is important (for many reasons) but partly because it's a buffer. Having background noise helps to muffle everything outside of your conversation.
Use music to reflect identity
The type of music you play in the taproom says a lot about the identity and personality of your brewery. And this in turn has a big effect on the types of patrons you attract.
On a trip to St. Louis, my wife and I checked out Heavy Riff Brewing. It's a badass brewery with a comfortable taproom, BBQ, great beer, and of course, Rock n' Roll. From the moment I walked in, I loved the place. Speakers pumping out Led Zeppelin and Queen filled the room with energy, and the bartenders reflected that rock n' roll enthusiasm as they poured pint after pint.
The brewery was comfortable and fun to be in. The music filled in the silence, but not so much that I couldn't talk to my wife. We left there feeling a little cooler and looking forward to the next visit.
Play it loud
Don't be scared!
Now I'm not saying I want to feel the bass rattling my brain, but cranking it up a little helps to fill the void. This is what really helps to create the atmosphere. Sure, some of it has to do with what you're playing, but being bold enough to play it loud says a lot.
Full sounding music gets your feet tapping. It also boosts the energy of the whole place. Crank it up a little and suddenly people are matching the volume. The ambient music covers the fear of annoying anyone with outbursts of laughter and friendly banter. This leaves people to be more expressive, rather than suppressing their excitement.
step outside of mainstream
But not too far.
Especially when it comes to classic rock, "mainstream" stuff is a safe bet. Classic stuff triggers nostalgia in the older generation, and the younger crowd has embraced these tunes just the same.
You take a risk by playing music outside of the norm. Everybody knows Sweet Home Alabama, but very few would perk up if Her by Poppy came on.
Think about it this way...you want people to come to your brewery and try beer that they've never had before. That's the point of being a craft brewery - you create unique experiences. You can parallel this with music. Play stuff people don't know. Create a new experience for them. They may like it, they may hate it. But you could say the same thing for your beer and you're not scared to give them that.
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