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May 29, 2007

Store Music As Public Service

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

I used to gripe about the music stores play as "background" for shoppers.

Matter of fact, I still twitch at the memory of some truly awful pop Christmas music from last December.

Then there's the BOOM, BOOM BOOM sounds that vibrate the floor, walls and, yes, your very own spine.

But I'm not complaining. Not now. That's because I had a revelation!

I finally realized that the type of music a store plays correlates well with the type of goods the place sells. It's a planned image thing; my, my how savvy / cunning /devious those marketers are!

How does this benefit me and perhaps you? When walking along a shopping street or through a shopping mall, you hardly need glance at the display window. If I hear BOOM, BOOM BOOM coming out the door of a men's clothing store I don't even have to look for giant photomurals of half-naked youths to know that the place isn't for me. But if I hear classical music wafting out, I have a fighting chance of finding a garment I might like.

Très facile.



posted by Donald at May 29, 2007


Ah, the problem is when the music from one store bleeds into the other. My fiance and I were browsing in a jewelry store one night when the rap music from Limited across the way was so loud you could hear the BOOM BOOM BOOM in Bailey Banks & Biddle. And that's a lot of B's for one sentence!

Posted by: Keath on May 29, 2007 6:25 PM

Thanks, Donald. Your theory will be very useful to me. The next time I am walking down the street and I hear Blind Lemon Jefferson singing "Piney Woods Money Mama" -- I'm in there!

Posted by: Lester Hunt on May 29, 2007 9:50 PM

Any correlations you'd like to propose between a company and the music it plays to you on the phone as you await connection to a human?

Posted by: dearieme on May 30, 2007 3:10 AM

Are you fellows of the age to appreciate The Zimmers? Scroll down at

Posted by: dearieme on May 30, 2007 3:20 AM

Goodness, Donald, I've never encountered a clothing store that plays classical music. Where do you shop, Savile Row?

Posted by: Rick Darby on May 30, 2007 11:39 AM

Rick -- Hmm. You might be right. Or not. I know that I've been in stores that play classical, though I can't remember what they were. FWIW, Seattle's University Village shopping center pipes in classical along its walkways, though the stores themselves play whatever they play.

Posted by: Donald Pittenger on May 30, 2007 11:55 AM

Music in public places is a sore point with me. Almost always, that music is so terrible that it is almost insulting.

I just returned from vacation in Cancun, and music in every public space was just dreadful. Although I had a good time, this aspect of the trip was horrible. The hotel, the clubs, the busses and the gym were all swamped in dreck... a combination of disco, gay butt-fucking anthems, Madonna-esque pop, vulgar rap, etc. Not a single blues or country song to be heard, or even a decent popular Mexican song. You'd expect that good old fashioned rock and roll might prevail... but no, not a lick of it.

It was as if the gods were attempting to drive me mad with the most godawful, hideous, deliberately ugly and vulgar din they could create. I survived it by drinking many margaritas and avoiding as much direct contact as possible.

Of course, in Cancun and similar resorts the emphasis is often on cheap, shoddy thrills. The entertainment is often deliberately trashy and vulgar, and I got into the spirit of that on a few ocassions. I can understand why this mode has become so dominant in the resort and vacation industry. People are trying to escape the deadening confines of their politically correct offices and schools. Give them half a chance and they'll be screaming obscenitites, giving everybody the bird, stripping naked and tossing off ethnic and sex jobs. Yes, I can understand why we want to do this on vacation. We are shackled in our public lives at home.

But, in Cancun the music was just the most horrible shit. It's not like there's nothing else to play. American popular music, particularly rock, country and blues, offers a library of great party and dance music. Why in God's name do we need to be bombarded with dreck?

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on May 30, 2007 12:57 PM

I can tolerate shopping at Costco because they don't play music, but I want to run screaming from Best Buy because several different versions of boom-boom-boom is coming from all directions.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on May 30, 2007 6:42 PM

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