‘Background music’ in the forefront at Scheels store
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
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
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
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,”
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,”
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
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
“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.”
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