Proven: you get higher tips with Billy Joel


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Proven: you get higher tips with Billy Joel

Every restaurant manager knows that music is an important part of the atmosphere in their business. It’s now also been proven that background music helps to determine the tip your customers give you. At least, it will if you have older guests coming in. In comparison with neutral numbers, they give higher tips when they hear either particularly happy or downbeat music. 

The discovery was made in Austria. In 2018, the University of Innsbruck performed a study into the effects of background music on tipping behaviour in restaurants. The researchers chose one of the better restaurants in Innsbruck and incorporated the unknowing participation of 277 guests into their experiment.

As a customer, you found yourself in one of 3 scenarios. In the first, you heard happy, positive background music. Tracks included ‘Uptown Girl’ by Billy Joel, ‘Dancing Queen’ by ABBA and ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen. In the second scenario, you heard downbeat music, such as ‘Back To Black’ by Amy Winehouse. And in the third scenario, the playlist consisted entirely of neutral songs.

40% more in tips

The results were remarkable. In the study, the average restaurant visit cost about 100 euro per person. The average tip was 10 euro. But with older guests, the average increased with happy and with sad music. The impact was the greatest with ‘happy songs’ such as ‘Uptown Girl’. In that scenario, the background music resulted in, on average, 4 euro extra in the tip per visitor.

The researchers explain this change in behaviour in a very logical way. When you hear upbeat music, you feel better and become more generous. Melancholy music calls for empathy. As a result, you feel more inclined to help the server with a big tip than in a neutral situation.

Not with young people

Bad news if your horeca business is aimed at younger people: they appear to be immune to this specific effect. A possible explanation is that young people listen to music more often and as a result, are less susceptible to the emotional impact of a song.

According to Annika Beer, a psychologist who was involved with the research, it may also be the result of a difference in budget. Young people don’t always have sufficient funds to give larger tips. Or, of course, it’s also possible that they don’t like Billy Joel … 

Find out for yourself whether you get higher or lower tips playing different music. In Tunify, it takes just a few clicks to set the level of happiness and age of your songs.


Do you also want to take full control of your music?

You can, with Tunify! Get your 7 day free trial now.



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