What Music Is Best For Bars And Pubs

For many people, a bar is not only a place to pay for drinks; it's a place to unwind, socialize, and listen to great music.

The type of music played in a bar defines the atmosphere and the overall consumer experience you provide. Choosing the wrong music for the crowd in your bar can be damaging. Below, we have provided you with a walk-through guide on choosing the right music to set the ambiance in your bar.

Music As An Integral Part of Bar Experience

Music plays a subtle yet significant impact on people’s lives. It influences everything from moods to brain responses and even physical responses through changes in activities. Music can make people laugh, cry, or seek out others in an emotional reaction.

As a bar owner, it is essential to understand that music is more than background noise in your business. Music can act as a gear, determining how fast or slow your business is in a day.

Unlike many other jobs, music is an essential element in a bar. It is as vital to your business as what type of beverages you serve. Music isn't just a simple commodity when you own a bar. Music is the lifeblood of your business.

The right kind of music can decrease physiological stress indicators and help your customers relax. It can lighten their mood and get them more interested in the products and services you have to offer.

Different genres and tempos of music work effectively to arouse different responses in people. Some songs set off a memory, and others convince customers to carry out particular actions.

Music is an essential part of bars as it sets the atmosphere and creates a ‘realm’ for people to relax and enjoy their drinks. Selecting the suitable type of music for your bar patrons is ideal for determining how successful your bar business will be.

There is an endless variety of bars today. There are cocktail bars, sports bars, lounge bars, and even rooftops bars, with each personality of the bars differing almost widely. Just as there are different bars, there are vast options of music types and genres you will need to consider before building the ideal soundtrack to create the best customer experience.

Bar music impacts the energy and mood of your patrons. You not only need to consider the genre but also the tempo, energy, and volume.

What Does Music Do To Bar Patrons?

The type of music you choose will set the mood in your bar. It will create a sense of social connection and familiarity amongst your patrons, contributing to not just a night of successful bar sales but an overall positive customer experience.

While each bar patron has a choice to make when ordering the type of beverage they want, bar music is a collective sound that you serve everyone at once. While choosing music, you need to find common ground where everyone likes the music. This is because music amplifies the mood of your customers.

Music can influence how long your patrons choose to stay, what they buy as they wait, and how much they spend. It generally impacts their mood, preferences, and behaviors.

Think about it. You are out visiting a bar on your vacation in Germany. You happen upon a local German bar whose speakers are spewing German music while the patrons’ mood is high and bubbly. As you settle at the bar counter, do you order a French wine, or will you settle for a good pint of beer?

There is no doubt that while you might be drawn to other beverage choices, the music being played influences your choice at the moment.

Just as the music type evokes brain and physical responses, the volume also plays a big part in affecting the patrons. One study shows that fast music leads to fast drinking.

An article published in a journal classified human responses into four categories:

  • Social: How they fit in socially
  • Emotional: The listener feels happy, sad, nostalgic, or any other emotional variation
  • Cognitive: How the listener feels connected or engaged to the world around them
  • Arousal: The prehistoric phenomena that connect music to

Before giving in to the temptation to simply plug in a stereo a play, you need to understand that the type of music you play in your bar differs by various factors. To ensure your customers enjoy the best experience while the drinks flow, you need to work with these factors and choose the music that best suits your bar.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Bar Music

There are many factors to consider when creating the ideal bar playlist. You need to consider the personality of your bar, the age group of a significant percentage of the bar patrons, and the perfect environment you would like to maintain.

Do you want vibrant energy? Or do you want it slow and mellow?

Creating and maintaining the ideal bar environment will require you to select the best type of music genres and playlists for your bar. Since the energy level in bars often fluctuates, the kind of playlist you played yesterday might not work well for the patrons you have today. So what do you do?

You read the room.

While your bar or pub might be used to a certain energy level every day, there is always room for change. Every bar or pub is different and so are their music requirements.

To help you choose great music for your bar, we have broken down the factors you should look out for into easier bits.

1. Different Generations And Their Taste In Music

Bar owners spend so much time trying to figure out the best aesthetics for their bars without considering the people who pay to enjoy these aesthetics. A crucial factor that helps to figure out the best music for your bar or pub is knowing your target audience.

Bars and pubs are open to all adult ages, with pubs accommodating minors in several locations. Sifting through your traffic will enable you to know how to better cater to them with music.

Gen Z

If your bar or pub is often brimming with young adults between 18 and 24, your primary audience is the Gen Z age group. They are usually seniors in college or young professionals just testing out their various career paths. There are currently about 68 million Gen Z in the US.

The Gen Z population is the newest and youngest population, meaning they are more open to contemporary music culture. They are diverse, curious, and open to different music tastes that range from the latest rap or trap sounds, pop, hip hop to even discovering older classics.

If you are stumped on what type of music to play for the Gen Z bar patrons, checking the internet for the hottest songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 playlist and Spotify can give you an idea of where to start.

Ultimately, Gen Z bar patrons enjoy a mix of anything and everything.

Gen Y

Generation Y adults, also fondly known as millennials, are adults between 25 and 40 years. There are currently about 72.1 million Gen Y adults in the US.

Gen Y adults have witnessed old and new music changes. They are not so old that they do not enjoy these changes, hence, they are just as diverse as Gen Z adults but less curious.

The Gen Y population is split into Y.1 and Y.2. Gen Y.1 adults make up the younger generation, between 25 and 29 years old, while Gen Y.2 adults are between 30 and 40 years old.

Gen Y.1 adults are closer to Gen Z and will enjoy the same music type as the latter. Gen Y.2 adults have different interests and priorities and prefer the older traditional genders

If Gen Y adults make up a large percentage of your bar, you should play a mixture of songs from the 80s. This will include R&B, Hip-Hop, Top 40 Pop, K-Pop, J-Pop, Regional Mexican, Bollywood, and Contemporary music

Gen X

Your Gen Z patrons are between 41 to 56 years old. They make up about 65.2 million people in the U.S.

Gen X adults have a taste in music that goes back into the days. They enjoy their punk, disco, Eurobeat, New Wave, synthpop, rap, and glam rock, amongst others. Gen Xers want a mix of various genres that makes it easy to cater to them.

However, if you want to make the Gen X-ers happy, playing music from their days will create a nostalgic effect that creates a great customer experience.

2. Type of Bar

Types of bars range from cocktail bars to lounges and even pubs. While all these establishments primarily serve drinks, they are very different in their methods.

The critical difference is a bar is an establishment that serves alcoholic drinks for consumption on the premises, while a pub is a place to eat and drink. Because bars and pubs exist in different settings, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to picking the best music.

When picking your bar music, think about the ideal theme of the environment you want to provide the patrons with.

Cocktail Bars

Cocktail bars are high-end types of bars. Cocktail bars are classic, refined, elegant, sleek, and modern. These bars often pull customers with high tastes who want to unwind. The music you play in this setting should mimic the environment of your bar.

The music played in a cocktail bar should be appropriately paced. It should be laid back but not lazy, classic, and elegant. Depending on your aesthetics, cocktail bar music can be anything from classical to jazz, soul, or even R&B.

You might match the high energy on some nights with bubbly melodies of electronic tracks with a hint of jazz and soul.

Rooftop Bars

Rooftop bars take their elements out of the enclosures of a room. They are most popular in hotels but can also be independent enterprises.

Rooftop bars provide a relaxed and cozy vibe matched with a breathtaking view of the world below. The cool breeze, tasty drinks, and quality music help patrons relax as they enjoy the scenery.

The energy levels of a rooftop bar are a little slower than an average bar, so you want to settle for quiet music. Choose classic and cinematic sounds that are not intrusive.

Beach Bars

After a long day of having fun in the sun, beach-goers want to chill out and relax with a cool drink. Beach bars are also great for dates in a natural setting.

With the bay and cliffs surrounding your bar, you want to match the music to compliment the beach's laid back scenery. For beach bars, your ideal playlist should be a combination of tropical tunes, upbeat music, and some electronic mellow sounds.

Sport Bars

Sports Bars are often filled with energetic patrons who come together to enjoy a common game. The energy level is high as every customer is pumped to enjoy the game shown on the large bar screen.

The music playing in a sports bar should be uplifting. The high energy in a sports bar is part of the experience, and so your bar should do everything to maintain this energy. Your playlist should feature a mix of music genres that range from Classic Rock, Pop, Alt/Indie, and Adult Contemporary.


Pubs are evolving and adopting a more modern approach than they used to. In the past, pubs used to be filled with locals who wanted to enjoy food and drinks in a setting that used no music or settled for music out of an old jukebox. Now, the tides are changing, and pubs have become a place to unwind and have fun.

Pubs are often filled with a mixture of people from different demographics. To help pub customers settle, your music should be fun and create a buzz that everyone warms up to.

Pub music might seem like nothing more than background noise, but in reality, it is a significant part of the customer experience. Music played in pubs should combine old and new music alike.

Choose classic contemporary soul, rock, and pop music and occasionally fit in mainstream modern music.

3. Tempo, Volume, And Time of Day

Some studies suggest that taking the tempo and volume of the music you wish to play at different times of the day is a great way to ensure the success of your business.

Tempo is measured in beats per minute (BPM). This means a song of 60 BPM is one beat per second.

When you consider the time of day, you might find out your lunch crowd prefers unintrusive and slower sounds when compared to your night crowd. You might also find your Friday crowd likes upbeat and fast-paced music to match their energy.

Regardless, it is essential to note that fast music tends to cause people to buy more drinks, while slower music drives customers to take their time over their drinks.

As a rule, you should play slow-tempo music during slower parts of the day and switch to a faster tempo as sales pick up.

Tips And Tricks For Bar And Pub Music

Getting The Best Music With Loop TV

No formula dictates the best type of music to play in your bars or pubs. Variety is the spice of life, and a great mix of songs at the right volume is all you need to keep your business moving.

However, before simply plugging in and playing, it is vital to take steps to avoid heavy license fines and copyright infringement. There are rules put in place by Performing Rights Organizations guarding the playing of music in public spaces.

Before you play music, you need to first pay licensing fees to a PRO such as BMI, ASCAP, or SESAC. This excludes commercial fees paid to music platforms you intend to stream from.

While there are no avoiding fees paid to a PRO, with Loop TV, you can get quality music without paying subscription fees to gain access to music.

Loop TV is a business TV and digital signage service that provides a world of unlimited entertainment. With more than a hundred music video and audio channels, Loop TV introduces your bar or pub to a world of musical entertainment. All you need to do is input your business detail on the website and have the Loop TV player delivered to you!

Loop TV also pays its users for displaying its services. Loop TV is supported by premium ads that run for an average of 10 minutes every day. At the end of the month, Loop TV will give customers rewards they can redeem for pre-paid Visa cards, gift cards, or even donations to charity

With Loop TV, your opportunities are endless.