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Shopping soundtracks: evaluating the musicscape using introspective data

Steve Oakes (Management School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Anthony Patterson (Management School, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK)
Helen Oakes (Keele Management School, Keele University, Keele, UK)

Arts Marketing: An International Journal

ISSN: 2044-2084

Article publication date: 17 May 2013




Despite the relatively low cultural status of department store music, it is proposed that music – the shopping soundtrack – is capable of transforming perceptions of the environment in which it is heard, and eliciting immediate emotional and behavioural responses, thus underlining the influence of music, regardless of whether it is passively heard as a background element or actively listened to as a live performance in a dedicated venue.


This study addresses a gap in the marketing literature for introspective research evaluating the experience of music in service environments. It draws upon auto‐ethnographic data through which participants ponder their own consumption experience and provide detailed, subjective accounts of events and memories.


When considering the effects of music upon emotional, cognitive and behavioural responses, it highlights the importance of musicscape response moderators.

Practical implications

The service environment appears more exciting and attractive and may encourage increased spending when background music is congruous with other servicescape elements. Music with positive autobiographical resonance elicits pleasurably nostalgic emotions, positive evaluations and longer stay. However, the aural incongruity of unexpected silence in music‐free zones produces feelings of discomfort leading to negative store evaluation and departure.


Qualitative data are deliberately represented using typically positivist discourse to encourage resolution of the inherent tension between interpretivist and positivist perspectives and stimulate increased methodological integration (e.g. through future studies of music combining quantitative and qualitative data).



Oakes, S., Patterson, A. and Oakes, H. (2013), "Shopping soundtracks: evaluating the musicscape using introspective data", Arts Marketing: An International Journal, Vol. 3 No. 1, pp. 41-57.



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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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