Obviously, most people like music, and even though the digital revolution has transformed the way music is delivered, one thing is for sure: music is more popular than ever. For filmmakers, media producer, and other creatives, the question is how much impact does music have on an audience? I’m sure results vary, but the answer was proven in a big way in Modesto, California recently.
I first saw the story in World Magazine, where the local 7-Eleven in Modesto was having problems with folks who were loitering and panhandling outside the store. It was creating an unsafe environment and causing customers to stay away. That’s when the convenience store manager apparently had an unusual idea: Use outdoor speakers and blast classical music and opera in the parking lot.
According to the Modesto Bee: “Store owner Sukhi Sandhu said the music has been very effective in reducing the number of people loitering and sleeping outside the store. He said the music creates a better environment, customers feel safer, and it eliminates any risks clerks face when asking loiterers and panhandlers to leave.
Legitimate customers have given 7-Eleven very positive reports, and it seems that the rest just aren’t opera fans…
UPDATE TO THIS POST: A few days after posting this story, the Wall Street Journal reported that a number of Rite-Aid Drugstores in California tried a similar strategy – only playing Barry Manilow music. Apparently, it worked, but it annoyed the neighbors. Here’s the journal’s comment:
There are a few other places where, until recently, you could hear the popular crooner belting it out for free, all day long: some Rite Aid storefronts in San Diego, Hollywood and Long Beach, Calif. Rite Aid employees say the intended audience wasn’t customers. The drugstore chain has been testing since early this year whether playing a few of Mr. Manilow’s songs outside the stores, over and over, and loudly, would deter loiterers and panhandlers. The tactic seems to have worked, but it also has mystified and annoyed neighbors and shoppers, who have been belting out their own feelings to store managers and on YouTube, Twitter and the neighborhood social-networking service Nextdoor.com.
The lesson? While both classical and Barry Manilow music keep the panhandlers away – the customers seem to prefer classical music. Either way – music does make an impact.