It’s pretty obvious that retailer and restaurant businesses need great products, food, drinks and service to drive clients through doors.

After all, in the end, this could determine whether a hospitality/retail business may be around for many years or just a few months.

But there’s another critical ingredient that’s a lot harder to pin down: atmosphere. Creating the right vibe/feeling is a must when it comes to making a bar/restaurant/shopping venue that awesome place that everyone is talking about.

Hands up who has never been to a bar/restaurant that was totally silent or one where the music was so loud that even the staff couldn’t hear you. We’ve all been there.

Choosing the right soundtrack along with lighting, furniture, design and staff will go a long way towards creating a unique atmosphere that brings customers back to your business, time and time again.

It’s all about the music

Cherry-picking the perfect music soundtrack for a business can be a nightmare that isn’t necessarily music to the ears of a business owner.

Does your brand and client-base suggest something jazzy? or fast-paced? heavy beat-driven? something energetic and upbeat or maybe a more mellow, casual vibe? perhaps the music profile should change through the day and across the week? and seasonally too?

What about PRS (Performing Rights Society for Music) and PPL (Phonographic Performance Limited) licenses – what do I need and what will be the cost? what if you don’t feel like playing big (and expensive) chart hits in order to create a great environment in your business venues. What if…

With all that in mind and aiming to help retailers and restaurant/bar owners make “sound choices”, in 2011 professional musician Fridrik Karlsson (who was, at the time, having success with a range of PRS/PPL exempt CDs), foresaw the imminent dominance of streaming as the pre-eminent way to consume and deliver music and gave life to Audencis.

Initially, the company traded as MusicStream, offering small business owners an app to run on their own business’ PC or tablet. In 2013, the focus switched to large multiple chains using dedicated hardware and the company has now over 2000 venues under their portfolio of clients, including Bannatyne Spa, Squires’ Garden Centres, Hawes & Curtis Men’s Outfitters.

Spotify, move over

As they have recently moved into our awesome coworking space, we got together with Neil Boote (Audencis’ CEO) & Harriet Cawson (Audencis’ Operations Manager) to figure how they’ve come to be known as the “new kid on the block” that is changing the face of business music.

Cowork Hub: Neil, do tell us how the business works.

Neil Boote: We are an ‘in-store radio’ platform for retail and hospitality businesses. We provide the technology platform and the music playlists – a complete end-to-end solution. Working with a large number of libraries, labels, artist services companies and artists themselves, we provide access to over 500,000 tracks from around 300,000 artists.

Cowork Hub: It’s really cool Neil. It sounds a bit like Spotify, but, for business venues, right?

Neil Boote: Very similar but many of our users want the music managed by us – so it is Audencis or its sales partners who are creating and updating playlists and schedules rather than the store manager or retail head office. We take care of the whole process.

By using our music playlists exclusively our customers (retailers and restaurants mainly) make big savings because they no longer have to pay for PRS or PPL licenses. Our service is designed to generate major cost savings on our client’s license fees. One UK discount chain, for example, is reportedly saving £175,000 annually by using our playlists rather than major label content.

A selective business

Neil, who has spent over 25 years working in different areas of music and entertainment before moving onto the label side, has been involved with the careers of music ‘heavy-weights’ like Oasis, Muse, Kasabian, Take That, Westlife and Il Divo, and can certainly afford to be picky.

“We’re selective and only the very best tracks make it to our playlists. We spend much of our time finding new tracks to add to the catalogue and not every song out there will make it, I am afraid. What makes us different is that we specialise in directly licensed music from independent artists and labels.”

As we browse through the Audencis’ website and listen to a selection of short demo playlists, we can’t help but sympathise with their argument that “unfamiliar but contemporary, credible, well curated and lower cost music is a great option for business.”

The “Out & Out Pop” 07 minutes-long compilation is a cool, contemporary mix of mid-tempo, upbeat pop from indie to urban via electronic dance and a delight to listen to.

“We are challenging the old paradigm where retailers and restaurants assume they have to play (and pay for), big chart hits in order to create a great ambience in their business venues”, stresses Harriet.

Harriet, a music fanatic herself with several years of experience in digital marketing, developing websites and marketing campaigns, and in sales and customer service for a major business to business audio service provider, has certainly made herself at home and mingles with ease at Cowork Hub.

“We love it here: Cowork Hub is easy to get to, a calm but business-like environment with good facilities and some of the friendliest people you could wish to meet. Before joining, we had our own office in a business campus in Shepherds Bush but we wanted something more social and with better facilities. We moved here a couple of months ago and haven’t looked back.

Getting to know each other

As coworking is very much about sharing and collaborating, Neil and Harriet have told us that their door (if they had one!!) is always open and they are very much looking forward to getting to know (and work with) their fellow entrepreneurs.

And to “break the ice”, we have asked them both to share with us a couple of things about themselves that you might not necessarily notice when first meeting them.

If you’re curious about which one has a BSc degree in Marine Zoology (who knew, right?) and owns a guitar stand (a gift from Green Day’s bass player) and whoever has 11 tattoos (and counting!!) and enjoys snowboarding, then, stop by their desks (opposite WePop and next to Central meeting room) and say hello.

By Val de Oliveira