How music affects our choices

From the moment we begin to exist, we are surrounded by music. Even inside the womb, we react to bass tones and it’s likely there will be a car radio on as we are driven home from hospital. As we grow, music becomes something we actively seek out to enjoy, as well as becoming ubiquitous background noise that barely registers in our brains as we go around our daily lives. The truth is, we consciously and subconsciously react to music in extremely different ways, often with results that can help outside parties to manipulate our choices.

The science behind music dictates that certain melodies, tones and even beats help us to release dopamine, a natural, self-produced drug which helps us attain feelings of happiness and well-being. Whether this is because music has mystical properties which stimulate dopamine production or because we associate certain parts of a composition with good times is up for debate, but there is certainty that our brains will tell us to ‘feel good’ if our favourite song is played. It isn’t all about the sound of the music however and there other factors which contribute to our overall outlook on certain sounds.

How we choose out favourite acts and artists isn’t always based on how much we like their music. Musicians don’t just focus on how they sound; they are surrounded by stylists, fashion experts, marketing and PR gurus and many other middle men looking to squeeze every penny out of successful acts. This means musicians have a certain image from day one, which can be used in other ways to help the artists make more money.

Head into any high street fashion retailer and you can guarantee the music being played will be something ‘cool’, whether it’s a pop song or obscure European dance track. When people are buying clothes, they want to be inspired, maybe copying a famous person known for looking good or piecing together an outfit. This background music helps to create an atmosphere in store, making shoppers move around faster by playing a song with a fast tempo, or take their time and make better decisions with a slower, more relaxing tune.

The same technique can be used in advertising. Try closing your eyes the next time you are watching adverts on TV and you’ll start noticing trends. Happy, uplifting music features heavily for almost every consumable imaginable. However, some advertisers will try and be more deep a meaningful; choosing a slow, sombre piece when deciding on life insurance or leaving a will for example. This association to life situations dictates to us how the product will make us feel. A pop song in a major key advertising an energy drink will make that consumer want to replicate that situation in their lives, which could mean a sale the next time they see that particular product.

Music is also used to pad out empty spaces. We’ve all been in that frankly depressing warehouse that is filled with discount clothes, but the experience is made more bearable if we are listening to some comforting music as we hunt down a bargain. Large venues like casinos spend endless amounts of time and effort when making their music choices.

Casinos are highly dependent on an atmosphere that people don’t want to leave, so making sure the music volume, choice and tempo is right. If you want your players to spend more time at the tables, make it sound like it’s the place to be. Playing slow or even boring music at the bar or in seating areas will drive some people away from these ‘dead areas’ and into the places where the action is happening. Loud and confusing music near the exit may cause people to seek assistance to leave, where they can be retained by properly trained staff if required. These techniques are even used online, with the best online slot games from the likes of 888casino relying on famous artists and professionally created backing music to keep players interested and engaged.


No matter where you are or what you are doing, music will be having a profound effect on your, even if you realise it or not. Try and remember this article the next time you hear a piece of music in public. You’re guaranteed to forget to pay attention when that soothing track comes on however…