Finding OpporTUNEity in Ambient Music Systems

A less than ideal economy might have agents strumming ballads of slowing sales and plummeting profits, which encourages partners to change their tunes, so to speak, and look for new songs to add to the pitch playlist.

One option agents might consider is selling background music systems both to retail and business clients. Research has shown that music boosts employee productivity and morale; and selecting the right music will keep customers in a store longer and strongly influence their purchasing decisions. This isn’t just random elevator music — this is serious business.

“It’s amazing how much thought goes into the behind-the-scenes of it. … But if you’ve ever walked into a W Hotel, there’s a very distinct vibe, from the music to the décor to the way that people act and the way they’re dressed,” explained Andrew Groelinger, COO of “experiential technology” firm Creative Realities Inc. (CRI).

Groelinger said CRI recently began looking to the indirect channel to sell the company’s background music systems and believes there is a huge opportunity for agents to sell the systems as add-ons. And with the near-monopolistic Muzak recently filing bankruptcy, the market for supplying these services is wide open.

“It certainly is easy for [agents], given that they’re already in this space, bringing in the connectivity. The connectivity is critical for having this system updated,” said Groelinger. “If you’ve got the infrastructure in place, why not leverage it and try to enhance the customer experience at any point in order to increase upsale for the retailer, or whatever type of location it is? That would only engender the telecom agent with their clients deeper.”

CRI previously was selling direct exclusively, but now is actively seeking partners to sell its bundled network audio system. The system consists of an on-premise networked media appliance and a service, both available through CRI. The company then builds and distributes via the Internet customized playlists that its music designers compose from licensing agreements with large music distributors. New playlists will be pushed out from the server on a frequency determined by the individual customer; and at that time, the appliance stores the music locally so that in the event of an Internet disruption, the music will continue to play. Groelinger said the background music system also can be tied into a customer’s on-hold music.

Partners can work with CRI on either a referral basis for upfront commission or private-label the system and receive monthly recurring commissions. The company provides a Web portal for tracking orders as well as a few business development agents for support. Agents also can tap CRI for its 24/7 call center, which can be white-labeled as well; the company even can provide the installation labor for the system.

Because this can be a subscription service and not a one-hit wonder, the possible new recurring revenue stream should prove attractive to agents. However, Groelinger admits background music is more of a volume sale, adding that there’s no room for price gouging in this area and you make your money over time on MRCs.

Justin McLain, CEO of Endeavor Telecom, one of CRI’s field installation partners, agreed that background music is an exciting opportunity for telecom agents. “Background/ambient music along with in-premise audio and video advertisements are all applications which now have content delivered over a broadband line,” said McLain. “This method of delivery makes for two interesting approaches to the sell — one, as an add-on for incremental revenue on top of the broadband service, and the other as a driver for broadband service itself.”

McLain also advised agents to target a prospect’s marketing department as opposed to the regular IT contacts when making this sale. “Working traditional IT contacts puts you on the same playing field as other agents and service providers, while a benefactor in the marketing organization often carries more political clout as a part of the procurement decision as well as a larger budget,” he said. “Winning over marketing not only increases your changes of winning the background music sell, but drastically increases your firm’s stickiness for traditional connectivity/access services.”

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