There is nothing new under the sun…turn, turn, turn

Retailers, don’t entertain us. We will entertain ourselves. #apmp

I have signed up for tomorrow evenings’s APMP California Chapter webinar. For various reasons, I will not be attending the webinar from my office. It is nearly impossible for me to get home in time for the webinar. So I’ll be attending from a point in between the two – preferably a spot with free wi-fi and with food. However, I need to make sure that the free wi-fi is robust enough to allow me to participate in the webinar. Ideally, I’d like to test the connection beforehand.

Today a testing opportunity presented itself – sort of. I left my lunch on the kitchen counter this morning, so I was going to have to eat lunch somewhere anyway. Why not try one of the potential wi-fi hotspots?

My test, however, would not be a complete test of the restaurant’s wi-fi capabilities. For one, the webinar itself is not going to take place until tomorrow. For another, I left my netbook at home (unlike my lunch, this was intentional). So instead of listening to a webinar on my netbook using the restaurant’s free wi-fi, I would be listening to Spotify (specifically, the radio station based upon deadmau5’s “Clockwork”) on my mobile phone using the restaurant’s free wi-fi.

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t named the restaurant in question. That’s because my experiment didn’t work out so well.

Most everything was great. The wi-fi worked (once I connected to the public network, rather than the private network for the employees). Spotify worked perfectly. And the food was good.

So what was the problem?

Diamond Dave.

You see, this particular restaurant chooses to play music. This is because decades ago, a scientist (I think his name was John Muzak) determined that if you played music at a retail establishment, people would buy more. So now almost all retail establishments play background music. Of course, the background music varies from place to place – “Hank’s Old-Timey Country Emporium” uses a slightly different playlist than “I Want to Die Teen Clothing Hangout.”

And this particular restaurant was playing a Van Halen song from the David Lee Roth era – I had to turn my volume way up this afternoon to hear the deadmau5 sound-alikes.

Obviously this would present a problem if I were to go to the same restaurant tomorrow night. I can picture it now.

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Now if I were working on a proposal for Panama, these interruptions may be appropriate. But it makes it hard to listen to my music – or to a webinar.

I’ll grant that my need is a special case, but there are a number of instances in which we don’t want to hear a retail establishment’s music because we have our own music. Many people, especially young people, have personal music devices that are very easy to carry around, and the smaller headphones allow you to listen to your own soundtrack. Yes, it’s anti-social – but the imposition of someone else’s soundtrack is equally anti-social.

What are the chances that retail background music will…um…fade away in the next decade?

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