Music Curation: Turning Songs Into Playlists

On a typical 16-hour operating day at Disneyland, “It’s A Small World After All” plays 1,200 times—day after day, month after month, year after year. Although this is an extreme example, it illustrates that, when a song is right for a brand, heavy repetition is not always the enemy. In the case of “Small World,” the song is as essential to the attraction as the flat-bottomed boats and the audio-animatronic dolls. Most likely the song will remain in place for another 52 years due to its importance in upholding and defining the ride experience.

Now let’s translate that scenario to a retail setting. In almost all cases a location doesn’t want the same song looping incessantly day after day. But there are circumstances that dictate when certain songs and artists should be featured more prominently on a brand’s soundtrack. If you’re a sports bar with a strong late night scene, it’s probably a good choice to hear “Roadhouse Blues” by The Doors on a regular basis.

If you’re a tween fashion retailer, “Style” by Taylor Swift may be a good track to feature in a more frequent rotation. If a particular song is a perfect match for a brand—exemplifying their attributes, connecting with their target audience, or speaking to a certain season or promotion—it should be heard as often as possible.

Playlist Size

The dwell time of a customer can also influence the size and rotation of the playlist. In a restaurant setting where customers are sitting for a meal that lasts an hour or so, more variety and content may be needed to prevent repetition. In other settings where the dwell time is shorter there’s a much smaller window of time to musically represent the brand. Therefore a smaller, more focused playlist featuring on-brand content in a high rotation can be effective and have the most impact during a relatively short visit.


Another consideration in building and maintaining a branded soundtrack is how often to update the playlist. Some brands are on a tight update schedule, while others refresh their playlist more infrequently or time updates with events or promotions. Often, it’s not the new songs that make the most impact—it’s the tracks that are removed. Novelty songs and overplayed songs tend to reach their shelf life much sooner than others. Removing this type of stale or polarizing content from rotation helps keep the playlist fresh.

Whether it’s a playlist of new and emerging artists, a nostalgic pool of throwback, sing-along tunes that recall timeless memories, or a combination of both, an experienced music supervisor will help a brand get the most out of its sound.

About PlayNetwork

PlayNetwork is the leading global provider of music and entertainment media experiences for brands worldwide. We partner with over 400 brands spanning 110,000 customer locations in more than 110 countries, our work reaching 100 million people every day. This post is a part of our series: Crafting a Branded Sound: How Music is Chosen for the World's Favorite Brands. To learn more about PlayNetwork, visit