Friday 1 April 2016

“The only song more important than the one you’re playing now, is the one that comes next.”

Let’s get something straight right off the top: Aside from having an appropriate venue and enough skates to rent to all your customers, there is absolutely nothing that is more important to your rink than music.

Consider what would happen if your rink’s main amplifier failed and your DJ was left with just a radio or an iPod and his own microphone/amp to pump the tunes out? Your skaters would abandon the rink pretty quickly (maybe a few stalwart dancers and kids taking advantage of the extra room on the rink will stay), and they’ll either head to the restaurant to grab a snack—or they’ll just pack up and head home.

No music means no fun!

At your rink, your DJs are probably your greatest asset, and if they’re any good, they naturally have a sixth sense for reading the mood of the crowd and responding by playing a complementary music selection or knowing when it’s time for a lights-out dance. They know when to pick up the tempo and when it’s time to slow it down—and they know that the right songs, played in the right order, make for a great presentation. There’s an old adage among DJs that goes, “The only song more important than the one you’re playing now is the one that comes next.” A good DJ uses music to bring all the elements of your rink together, creating an entertainment experience that will bring people back to your venue over and over again.

Crafting a Playlist is a Strategic Process
From start to finish, playlists are crafted, not stumbled upon. When music is used to create an entertaining user experience, crafting a playlist becomes a strategic process, especially when your venue hosts different groups with different ages and themes. Your Family Fun Skate playlist will be very different from the playlist you craft for your 80s Night Glowstick Dance!

Understand Your Audience and Build Your List Appropriately

  1. Identify your target demographic: All other factors being equal, your playlists have the potential to either attract customers (“I love the music they play!”) or drive them away (“The music was all over the place and I just couldn’t get into the vibe.”) For each type of skate session you host, identify the likely music tastes of the average customer you want to appeal to, and build your different playlists appropriately.
  2. Plan for your wave: Roller skating is clearly a physical activity—it’s “fun you can feel.” Early in the session, you start to slowly get everyone warmed up, advancing the tempo of the music to get the skaters moving, then later lowering the tempo so your skaters don’t get exhausted. Use your music to manage flow and intensity of the skating. Your customers will thank you for it, and will more often stay at your rink for the whole session.

    Tip: In the FEC sk8 player, you can use all of the information provided for each song to help you make appropriate selections. A song rating (PG, Mom-approved, Adult, etc.), beats per minute (BPM) value, energy rating, song length, and the categories the song belongs to are examples of the information that’s available.
  3. Plan to mix up the music: Themed skates appeal to all groups! An unexpected song can mix things up for your skaters, while injecting them with a renewed sense of fun. For example, a Frank Sinatra tune plugged into a typical Teen Skate playlist might seem out of place, but for those 16-year-olds who are trying to learn how to be romantic, it might create an “Unforgettable” moment they’ll remember forever. Plus, who says you can’t waltz to Coldplay or One Direction!
  4. Entertain, educate and… influence: Incorporating promotional messages in your playlists let people know about upcoming events, food or drink specials at your concession, and help introduce the different segments of your skate session. Ideally, you want to help guide your customers through their skate and serve them appropriate messaging throughout. At the start of the skate, schedule safety messages and operating principles, then move into food and beverage messages at about 30 minutes into the session. Schedule “upcoming events” messages closer to the end of the session.

    Tip: Visits to your concession stand normally peak between 35 and 55 minutes into your session, so it’s smart to start promotions at the end of the first half-hour and keep them constant until about the 55-minute mark to maximize their effectiveness. Keep messages short and to the point, with a clear call-to-action at the end.

    Tip: In the FEC sk8 player, you can build both audio and
    video promotions into your playlist via the Schedule feature.

Your venue is a unique place and your specialty might be “Disco Saturday Night” or “Big Band Sunday.” Regardless, music is the one thing that brings it all together, creating an entertaining—and memorable—experience for your customers each and every time.