The Ultimate Guide To Music For Bars

A great pub customer experience can go beyond drinks and food.

The atmosphere and energy of a space can often be just as important in making a visit to a bar memorable - and the perfect bar playlist can play a significant role in creating this great bar customer experience.

From an engaging ambience to a warm welcome, bars with music are often popular. Whether it be happy hour on a Friday or a Sunday afternoon roast, bar & pub music is an essential way of attracting customers and keeping them happy while visiting your business.

A study by French scientists suggests that establishments playing music will benefit. According to their findings, when the volume goes up, customers are likely to drink faster and greater quantities.

Your Guide to the Best Pub & Bar Music

As part of our ultimate guide to providing the perfect bar soundtrack, we’ll answer the essential questions below.

  • Are pubs and bars allowed to play music?
  • How much is a music licence for a bar?
  • What is the best music for a bar?
  • What music do bars play?
  • What’s the best music to play in a bar?

We’ll also provide you with an overview of how Open Ear’s expert team of music lovers can help you discover the essential mix of success when providing great music for restaurants and bars.

Get in touch with our expert team to find out more and start your free trial.


Are Bars Allowed to Play Music?

Yes of course, the perfect bar playlist can be an essential aspect of a restaurant’s ambience. Getting the bar & pub music right can help enhance a venue’s atmosphere, underline a brand’s personality and encourage customers to stay for longer.

Some studies have revealed the way in which music can influence behaviour in a pub or bar. According to research, bars with music can see customers drink more in less time than in those establishments where there is nothing coming out of the speakers.

However, while pubs and bars can reap the rewards of a well-chosen soundtrack, any business that plays bar & pub music will need to arrange a music licence with PRS and PPL. This is the only way you can legally play music in your business.

How Much is a Music Licence for a Bar?

If you play music in a public space, then you will need to arrange a music licence with PRS and PPL. The cost of a music licence for a bar will depend on an array of different factors, from how you play your music to how many spaces you own and more. For example, if your space is part of a chain and you have multiple establishments, then you will need to pay more to cover the costs of your bar & pub music.

You can find out more here.

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What is the Best Music for a Bar?

The perfect bar soundtrack will be influenced by a variety of different factors. They include:

  • The market your pubs and bars caters for
  • The kind of drinks and nights you host
  • The atmosphere you want to create
  • The time of day or day of the week you are open
  • The type of customers you want to attract

As with other establishments such as restaurants or hotels, it is important for businesses to remember that different types of music will work more effectively at particular times of the day. Great bar and pub music will not stay the same - in fact, the more frequently updated, the better the playlist and customer experience will be.

What Music do Bars Play?

The perfect bar soundtrack will depend on the kind of bar or pub the music is being played in, the time of day and the style of experience the business is looking to provide.

For example, if you run a pub which caters to a student demographic, then you may want your playlist to include more contemporary sounds, from chart music to pop. If your bar offers high-end cocktails and targets a more mature market, then your bar & pub music will need to reflect this. Businesses need to remember that whatever they choose can play an important part in shaping the customer experience.

If you’re looking for playlists that can enhance your brand and positively influence the time customers spend in your business, then you can work with a curation service such as Open Ear.

Our in-house team is full of music experts capable of curating great bar and pub music that not only engage customers but also expose them to new and exciting sounds to ensure your business stands out from any competitors.


What’s the Best Music to Play in a Bar?

You need to ensure that your music helps to emphasise your great pub or bar experience. The bar & pub music you play needs to work in tandem with your service. Otherwise the customer experience could be negatively impacted.

Here are some reasons why you should invest in sourcing the best music to provide the perfect bar soundtrack for your business venture:

- Encourage customers to stay for longer and spend more

As a pub or bar owner, you want to create an atmosphere where your customers feel comfortable entering, staying and spending time and money. The friendliness of staff, cleanliness and look and feel of a business will all influence the customer experience. However, if you source the perfect bar soundtrack, then this can also play a crucial part in making visitors feel at home and creating the kind of environment they want to stay in and return to.

- Match your music with your brand

Consider what kind of message you want to convey with your bar & pub music. From serving breakfast on a Monday morning to Friday night happy hour, drinkers may well be able to enjoy different experiences in your establishment. All will be enhanced by great service and striking interiors - and your choice of pub background music can be just as important in providing positive perceptions of your brand.

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- Use music to enhance an event

Many bars and pubs offer a variety of different experiences. You might be hosting a student night or showing a football match. Perhaps you are welcoming a society or group to your space or offering a special event based around new types of food and drink. Whatever you are hosting, always keep in mind how your bar & pub music can be used to enhance the event’s atmosphere.

- Boost staff morale

While drinkers can be influenced by the kind of music played in a restaurant space, it can also influence staff behaviour too. Working in a pub can be enhanced by a well-chosen and diverse playlist that regularly changes and reacts to what is happening within a space. Find the perfect bar soundtrack and keep your team members happy as well as your customers.


Can I Play Spotify in My Bar?

No, the terms and conditions that you agreed to when registering for an account with the streaming services outlines how these services are for personal, non-commercial use only. This means you are not legally allowed to play music from this service in your space.

Visit the Spotify website to find out more.

Case Studies of Music in Bars

Our team has worked with several bar & pub businesses to curate the best bar music playlists to enhance their brands.



Buzzworks is one of the leading hospitality businesses in Scotland, with 13 sites that continue to set the standards across the industry.

Our expert curation team worked on providing each site with a different soundtrack to accompany the distinctive look and feel of each while appealing to the brand's vast demographic.



Our team of music curators has been working closely with NWTC’s management to develop music identities and bespoke playlists for each of their brands (including award-winning renowned restaurants and bars like The Botanist, The Florist, and The Oast House).

All the playlists Open Ear provided for NWTC have been bespoke, meaning our in-house music experts have handpicked each track to enhance the space and graduate the energy over the course of the day and week, in line with trading patterns.

Meet our Expert Team of Bar & Pub Music Curators

Our leading professionals and music industry playlist curators can help you harness the power of music. This means that your perfect bar soundtrack is always on-brand and your customers maximise enjoyment from their time at your venue.

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