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‘Background music’ in the forefront at Scheels store

John Seelmeyer

Tom Killoran hopes you’ll pay attention to

the music at least a little when you go

into the new Scheels store in Legends at Sparks

Marina.

The audio programming at the store was

one of the most complex jobs ever taken on by

PlayNetwork, a Redmond,Wash., company that

creates video and audio environments for

retailers.

Many of the decisions about the audio programming

ultimately came down to the experience

and judgment of Killoran, a senior producer

for branded music with PlayNetwork

who has spent 30 years in the radio and audio

programming industries.

The sheer size of the store nearly

300,000 square feet contributed to the complexity

of PlayNetwork’s task.

Eleven separate audio zones exist throughout

the store. Patrons of the store’s restaurant,

for example, dine to a background of casual

alternative adult music. Elsewhere in the store,

meanwhile, younger shoppers are listening to

teen-oriented rock and some shoppers are

hearing classical music.

In all, the store includes 800 speakers

and 11 different types of speakers to ensure

good sound quality that doesn’t leak from one

audio zone to another, says Leroy Henry, vice president for creative services at PlayNetwork.

What comes out of those speakers can help

the store make its sales goals.

The overriding goal of his music selections,

Killoran says, is finding tunes that

match the marketing goal of Scheels.

“We’re trying to target the aspirational

lifestyle people who are getting active and

involved,” he says.

And before Killoran made his first selection

of music for the new store, he and Henry

spent hours talking with Scheels executives

about the demographics and psychographics

of the store’s shoppers.

Along the way, they learned that Scheels

wanted the store to act as more than a place

for shoppers to buy stuff. They wanted a

strong entertainment component as well.

“Shoppers get that Disneyland-look in

their eyes as they walk around the store,”

Killorin says.

Jason Loney, vice president of store development

for Scheels, praises the work that

PlayNetwork staff put into understanding the

sports retailers’ needs.

“Throughout the entire process, from early

concepts to install, they have made it their

business to understand our brand culture,”

Loney says.

Once Killorin’s head was stuffed with all

the data about demographics, psychographics

and retail environment, he started pulling

songs out of PlayNetwork’s million-song catalogue.

Song by song, he thought about lyrics.

They need to be family friendly without a hint

of anything inappropriate.

He thought about the mix. A few of the

songs in each program are old favorites the

sort of songs with which shoppers hum and

sing along. A few come from today’s charts.

But most exist somewhere in the middle

contemporary, new, but not too new and

unknown.

Any song that might prove to be annoying

to shoppers was eliminated.

Scheels wanted the programming to provide

something more than background music,

but Killoran also was aware that the busy

video, shopping and entertainment environment

inside the store didn’t need a blast of inyour-

face music to create excitement.

“There’s enough entertainment in that

store that you don’t have to hammer at them,”

the music producer says.

And he kept in mind that at least one

group of listeners the store’s employees

would be wrapped in the musical cocoon continuously.

The programming needed enough

variety so they wouldn’t grow weary of the

same tunes day after day.

Despite the pressure “It takes only one

or two songs to spoil it,” says Killoran the

sheer size of the multi-channel project kept

him enthused.

“This has been a blast,” he says.

And despite the commonly held belief that

retail music is intended to stay in the background,

Killoran and Henry know they’ve succeeded

when their music jumps to the forefront

of shoppers’ consciousness.

“People get really excited. They offer their

opinions to us,” says Henry.”It really makes a

connection with them.”