Writing yesterday’s post made me think about why background music has become such a big thing. The tinkly piano in our hotel is a fairly easy conundrum to solve; most of the guests were of an age where a pianist playing cocktail music while they took their pre-dinner Martinis or post-dinner brandies was a signifier of luxury. They were likely to enjoy it, and in any event, the music probably wasn’t intended to be listened to for a couple of hours; we were just unlucky in where we were placed.
In the pub, too, the reasons for the music aren’t difficult to divine. Pubs with music take more money than pubs without music, and therefore landlords may well install a sound system and decree that it be used during opening times. For the bar staff it’s probably quite nice to be able to listen to music during their shifts. And if the level of that music inconveniences a customer who isn’t likely to return, so what? Toughski shitsky, as they say in Mother Russia.
I do wonder, though, about that statement that pubs with music take more money than pubs without, which came from a number of trade websites I glanced at yesterday. This may well be true of what are euphemistically referred to as “vertical drinking establishments”, which deliberately create an atmosphere designed to persuade punters to drink more by providing few seats and pumping up the music to levels where it’s hard to hold a conversation. In this environment people swig because it’s the only thing to do, and thus consume more.
Whether these establishments, or rather, their largely corporate owners, should have to contribute towards the cost of dealing with these booze-fests is another matter. If Pubco’s had to pay for the costs of policing town centres on drinking nights and cleaning them up afterwards, and towards the cost of dealing with alcohol-related A&E attendance, vertical drinking establishments might appear rather less profitable. But I digress. More tomorrow.