Better music one of the cheapest restaurant upgrades

A national report released today ranks the top 10 cheap-to-change options for Australian restaurateurs getting back on their feet in the quickest and most painless way.

The report prepared by the National Institute of Economic and Industry Research and OneMusic Australia dissects ‘upgrade options’ via an annualised cost ranking.

The report is intended to guide operators looking to up the ante and win back in-house custom after COVID-19 and the global necessity of the low-margin home delivery service model.

Aside from tangible upgrades to menu design and napery, improving music quality has been ranked as one of the least expensive upgrades for a dining business in their bid to re-establish normal trade.

Annual replacement cost 1:

  1. $560.51 menu folders.
  2. $589.45 napery.
  3. $803.44 uniforms.
  4. $1,190.00 music sophistication.
  5. $1,486.93 tableware.
  6. $1,752.85 furniture.
  7. $2,544.00 live music.
  8. $2,657.57- $3,796.53 ceiling.
  9. $2,671.20 – $4,452.00 wall design.
  10. $4,940.00 – $8,233.33 flooring.

A switch from playing the radio to a digital source for music could be a cheap option to drive new custom and repeat business simply because the playlist can be better customised.

Adding semi-regular live music also comes well within the top ten least expensive options for change.

Former restaurateur and now food writer, children’s book author and long-time DJ, Andrew Levins said, “It’s hard to stand out. Now more than ever you’ve got to try something different in the game. You could pump thousands of dollars into making your restaurant look better, but it’s just as effective  - and way cheaper - to make it sound better.”

“It’s about changing things up with music and other offerings - without costing the earth,” adds Catherine Giuliano, OneMusic. “96%2  of the restaurants we speak to have music playing in some in form or other… but research shows most businesses only get the music right 20%3 of the time! That’s a lot of that ‘face-palm’ emojis out there!”

According to OneMusic Australia who provide licences to businesses to play their music, only 11%4 of restaurants have live music yet this falls in the top ten cheapest ways to spice-up what you’re serving to customers.

Catherine Giuliano adds, “We know from global research that having live music in a setting where you are socialising – and let’s face it rarely do you dine out alone – encourages a connection with others in the room, helps you to remember that experience, spend more, stay longer and return.”

1 Based on a 79-seat restaurant. ABS report 8655.0 - Cafes, Restaurants and Catering Services, Australia, 2006-07 reports 1.1 million seats in 13,987 café and restaurant locations which is 78.6 seats per location (rounded to 79 seats for the purpose of this study). The figures include cafes and restaurants operating within a club or hotel where a liquor licence may be held. Class 4511 Cafes and Restaurants of the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 edition (ANZSIC06) are included. Class 4512 Takeaway Food Services were excluded from this survey.

According to IbisWorld, the mid-range dining sector accounts for the largest portion of industry revenue and has higher quality, more expensive meals and the broadest appeal.

2 3,716 restaurants and cafes were contacted by OneMusic Australia between 1 July 2019 and 25 February 2020. Of those, only 149 or 4% reported no music use whatsoever.

3 Page 20 of research conducted by the Swedish Performing Rights Association and Swedish Artists' and Musicians' Interest Organisation in 2011: Uncovering a Musical Myth a Survey on Music’s impact in Public Spaces(

4 Out of 2,676 unique locations with a OneMusic Australia Dining licence as at 6 February 2020, 292 locations or 10.91% have a licence for Featured Music (live music).

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