The right music in store can boost sales

by Louise Burgers. We’re reinventing retail in store playlists with inBroadcasting, a division of HaveYouHeard agency.

by Louise Burgers. Who hasn’t walked out of a store when the music is too loud or jarring; or rolled your eyes at the same old tired Christmas music that is plugged in each year by lazy retailers? Many scientific studies over the years have shown that music has a powerful effect on moods and even behaviour. Enterprising retailers know this and prioritise in store playlists like any other marketing campaign to consumers.

“Marketers use [music] as a motivator in the purchase decision of consumers shopping in different environments,” noted the Independent Journal of Management and Production. Way back in 1982, the Journal of Marketing found that the tempo of music played in store affected how shoppers shopped. Audiosocket notes that a 2000 article in the Journal of Business Research reported on research that showed shoppers moved more quickly to familiar music; and browsed more slowly to unfamiliar music. By 2016, the Journal of Retailing was reporting that musical choices by retailers could be “tailored to produce highly specific buying behaviours by recalling specific memories in the brains of shoppers”.

One of the keys to unlocking the potential of revenue models for the South African media industry is to make a paradigm shift when it comes to the definition of ‘broadcasting’. That’s the advice of veteran DJ and digital broadcasting entrepreneur, Jon Savage. The term broadcasting is obsolete, he says, unless you are prepared to define it as the distribution of ‘heard’ and/or ‘heard and seen’ content across numerous media or channels. When you start including digital such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube in your broadcast strategies alongside radio and television, then, that’s when you are on to something.

Reinventing retail radio

It is for this reason, inBroadcasting, a division of HaveYouHeard, is innovating the broadcast media and branded content spaces. Savage, a director at inBroadcasting is a music maestro, who recently launched Sportscene’s digital radio into the biggest of its kind. The statistics show that unique listeners topped 84,000 in November last year and grew to over 277,000 by the end of December 2020. Important, too, is that each of these unique listeners spent an average of half an hour online listening in.

Savage is also the founder of BUSQR and the creator of AMPD Studios (and the director of the MTV Base partnership, AMPD STUDIOS LIVE), both for HaveYouHeard; and a veteran of content creation and production across multiple media channels and technologies – from DJ to commercials director, TV series to feature films – and the creator of award-winning digital content platforms such the Mashlab and The Eye digital radio station.

Created and programmed by inBroadcasting, Sportscene Radio was launched mid-2021 via a live broadcast from the chain’s new store in Sandton City. Programming includes a weekly live show by DJ Jo Lumka, broadcast from AMPD studios in Newtown Junction, and daily music compiled by inBroadcasting’s The Eye radio team. “As a broadcaster, Sportscene Radio will be able to forge closer relationships with their customers, ensuring that communication with them is relevant, highly targeted and timeous,” said Savage. “inBroadcasting is able to offer this communications solution to Sportscene through The Eye, a facility that runs 3rd party radio stations, which is what makes it an economical solution for brands,” said Savage.

Create unique playlists

inBroadcasting can develop playlists for any brand. To showcase their versatility, inBroadcasting has partnered with Retailing Africa to introduce playlists of the best music across the African continent, that millions of consumers are listening to right now. Savage is of the opinion that tired old traditional Christmas playlists do more harm that good to retail budgets; and those retailers need to play music their customers want to listen to. And even though it’s Christmastime, that music isn’t necessarily Christmas music! “I know it’s Christmas, you don’t have to tell me. Why not surprise and delight your customers with new material from their favourite artists?” Savage asks.

Savage is developing a series of unique playlists for the retail market, which he will release on Retailing Africa over the next few weeks, showcasing what consumers are currently listening to. Given that he has access to streaming data from Apple, Spotify, Deezer, Boomplay, TikTok, YouTube, and launched Africa’s first continental top 40 show, he is probably the most qualified person on the continent to do so! These are the songs that retailers should be playing in store this December,” says Savage. The unique playlist will be updated regularly by Savage for Retailing Africa’s B2B readers. Have a listen; and read why Savage has chosen this playlist for this week, as he explains in detail:

1. Osama – Zakes Bantwini

Zakes Bantwini has been creating songs that have managed to infiltrate South African culture for over a decade and now is a heavyweight piece of listeners’ psyche. This year he released his most important song ever, a soulful and dance song called Osama which hits the exact right tempo and chord structure that puts listeners at ease. The sonics of the song are non-invasive for shoppers, its repetitive beat and chantings allow listeners to really let the song wash over them. We analysed streaming data across YouTube, Spotify, Apple and TikTok, and Osama has been one of the most listened to songs across the entire continent for 4 months straight.

2. Abalele – Kabza Da Small, DJ Maphorisa, Ami Faku

It’s one thing to know that Amapiano exists, it’s another thing entirely to understand how deeply Amapiano is affecting the global music scene. The Scorpion Kings (created by Tresor, DJ Maphorisa and Kabza Da Small) has been dominating streaming charts across the globe. Here at home, Amapiano is becoming our most important creative global export and South Africans are extremely proud of it.  Take for example the fact that this song has nearly 7 million views on YouTube and DOES NOT EVEN HAVE A MUSIC VIDEO! The video is just the cover art of the album as the song plays. This should speak volumes. South Africans love this song and the tempo is perfect for in-store during Christmas, as it has a very catchy melody that will cut through the noise of busy shops, but the tempo is still downbeat enough to allow space to focus on the shopping experience.

3. Stay – Justin Bieber x Kid LAROI

Christmas is a time for feel-good music and this song has been smashing charts across the entire world since its release. It’s infectious melody and catchy hook is uplifting and immediately puts people into a good mood. The tempo is foot-tapping, and the chorus is instantly memorably without being intrusive or “beat-heavy”. It is one of the few international songs that has been the MOST streamed song on the African continent over the past few months. This is a MUST PLAY for all retailers who are targeting 16–30-year-old market across all genres and demographics.

4. Lighthouse – Tresor feat. De Capo and Sun-El Musician 

If you are playing Tresor in your stores, it means you understand the current pulse of the South African youth and urban marketplace. Not only has Tresor been building an unbelievable career over the past six years, and this year he wrote and produced two songs on the brand-new Drake album (the most streamed album of all time), and even was asked personally by Metallica to cover ‘Nothing Else Matters’ on their latest global smash, The Black BlackList. He also founded the biggest Amapiano group on the continent, Scorpion Kings. Recently he dropped a new solo album, which sees incredible collaborations with the biggest and most important artists in SA and has already surpassed 10 million streams. We chose his first single Lighthouse, featuring Sun-El Musician, because it’s important for your audience to realise that you know what is new and hip and also because the tempo is easy and laid back, with Tresor’s smoothest vocal delivery, putting shoppers into a good mood without interfering with concentration. A huge thumping chorus can often backfire in a store and become annoying, which is why this chorus is perfect for a noisy shopping environment.

5. Industry Baby – Lil Nas X feat Jack Harlow

This song is specific to the youth market and drives them wild. The song is so hot, and the music video is so hot, you can never go wrong with this song over the festive season if you are targeting the 13 – 26-year-old market across ALL demographics. His moves and dress style are emulated by millions around SA and the power of this song cannot be under-estimated. It’s a little bit naughty,  with a few borderline offensive words thrown in, so be sure to utilise a clean or “radio” version if you are concerned about complaints.

6. In Search of Better Days – Kahn Morbee

The Parlotones always have a way of making sparkly music that reminds me of Christmas. Kahns’ voice is so recognisable and a core part of the fabric of South Africa. If your core market is over 30 years old, this is an absolute MUST play on rotation in your store. Kahn has moved to Berlin now and this is the first single from his new solo album, and it has all the hallmarks of what you love about the Parlotones with a new level of slick production. This song will put shoppers in a great mood, and they will instantly recognize Kahn’s voice which will put them at ease

7. Bad Habits – Ed Sheeran

The tempo of this song is fascinating as it skates between a dance song and a pop song in a very elegant way, crossing genres and demographics seamlessly. It’s not often a pop song can perform so well across all charts – dance, pop, urban and easy listening. The beat is uplifting and highly suitable for in store as it’s foot-tapping rhythms and bouncing melody, and behavioural analytics studies, have shown how this can impact the mood of shoppers in seconds.

8. Essence – Wizkid and Tems

We’ve been studying the the streaming data and listenership habits across all  streaming platforms over the past 4 months across the entire of Africa, and I cannot stress enough, the importance of this song. Tems can do no wrong and Wizkid is earning Grammy’s for Africa. Aspirant young South Africans now dream of growing up to be just like Wizkid, or Tems. This song has hundreds of millions of streams across Africa and is stilll going strong. It is one of Africa’s favourite songs of 2021. Having this song on your playlist over Christmas speaks volumes that you deeply understand SA culture right now.

9. Peru – Fireboy DML

South Africans are extremely proud when our music goes global. Fireboy is a Nigerian artist who is blowing up all over the world and in this particular song – that is currently in the Top 5 songs streamed songs in November across SA and the rest of the continent – he mentions being in South Africa. As a result, South Africans have adopted him as one of our own and the more success he has, the more success Africa has on the world stage. Having this song on your playlist tells your shopping audience that you understand the importance of supporting Africa and what is important to them, is important to you.

10. Nasty C – Black and White

Please make sure you use the “radio” clean version of this song. Nasty C is one of the most loved artists in South Africa, on a similar level to Casper Nyovest. What makes his career so remarkable is his bold international moves hanging out with Snoop Dogg and other culture icons, and representing South Africa in a very significant way. What South Africans love most is a bold visionary from their hometown, who builds himself from nothing into a megastar against all the odds. He has publicly said he will be SA’s first billionaire rapper, and as a result has become the dominant aspirant figure for the youth market. Even though his streaming numbers are not the biggest, his cultural significance cannot be underestimated. We’ve chosen this particular song because the mid-tempo groove and laid-back melody creates a perfect shopping environment where the rapping is not too aggressive, and the beats encourage movement and a moving forward for shoppers.

Listen on Spotify.

“Brands need a more agile way to produce retail radio. Our OBE (outside broadcast unit) we developed fits into a suitcase. Clients are daunted by broadcasting, but we make it accessible with the latest data and cutting-edge tech.” The benefits for brands are massive, says Savage:

  1. It drives real engagement to your brand from customers.
  2. From a retail perspective the playlists are agile and organic, always being updated, so if an historic event happens, the playlist changes. They also do research into shopping behaviour and change the tempo to encourage people to shop, at different times of the day.
  3. The third thing is consumer engagement. This is the most cost-effective way to create a real media channel, and for brands to talk about cool stuff on social media, not just their products and services, to really connect with their customers.

“From an emotional perspective, the sweet spot is if they are playing the song that fans love the most, that isn’t on the chat, that gets your shoppers excited – it connects with the consumer. (That is why data is so important). We are always looking to how music impacts people, and how the brand can have an identity for the music they want to play, and speak to their audience,” concludes Savage.

Listen to the unique playlist created by inBroadcasting for Retailing Africa readers, on Spotify.


Main image credit:


Louise Burgers is the Publisher and Editor and Co-Founder of She has spent over 20 years writing about the FMCG retailing, marketing, media and advertising industry in South Africa and on the African continent. She has specialised in local and Africa consumer trends and is a passionate Afro-optimist who believes it is Africa’s time to rise again and that the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) will be a global gamechanger in the next decade.


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