Samsung Electronics Canada, the Canadian subsidiary of the world’s number one smartphone manufacturer, expanded their retail footprint significantly in 2013. Opening 2 new Samsung Experience Stores in partnership, the new stores center on retail innovation for customers to explore, purchase, activate and service Samsung products.
Influenced by the brand’s broader consumer-focused approach, RXMusic’s Chad Courneya was tapped to create a musical soundscape that reflects the unique brand strategy of these stores. In conversation we talked about how he deals with the delicate balance of creating an inviting atmosphere, and keeping it interesting for those who work in that environment.
How’d you first get involved in working in music?
Well, I went to a recording school in Southwestern Ontario called OIART which gave me the background I needed in order to find a job out in Hawaii working as a studio hand. From there I ended up working with a music supervisor in Toronto – submitting songs for publication. That paid the bills for a little bit and I just continued working in audio when this job as a consultant came up.
Samsung – you created their program and manage that account – what kind of sound are you looking for when programming a client like Samsung, and how did you come about finding that sound?
This is a very forward thinking retail environment and I strive to reflect this in the music programming while keeping a mainstream sound intact. As most of the Samsung stores are located in malls, it’s imperative to keep a flow from one sonic space to another. Keeping a similar sound to what’s going on in the main mall area is key to maintaining a level of comfort from zone to zone. Additionally, it’s got to be feel-good music. This is a retail store and you want customers to feel good about their purchases.
From a regional standpoint all of the stores are on the west coast. This results in a very culturally diverse crowd of Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Afro and Caucasian Canadians – specifically a lot of Korean employees. What we did for them is created a very K-Pop heavy program.
Is this what makes the Samsung store stand out from, say, the store across the mall?
Like I said, they’re very forward thinking, as well they have a reputation as a global tech giant. Specifically, we narrowed in on two different times of day: peak and off-peak. Peak is very much a high-energy vibe; as many of these locations are close to high schools, peak time is around lunch and post-3pm. I also have more flexibility during peak to get into a little more indie content. For the non-peak hours, when the mall is admittedly a little less busy, it’s important not to blow away the customers that do come in with something that might be out of place. So this non-peak program is a little more down-tempo. The third list we have going there is a Worldwide list which is pop music mostly from Korea and Japan.
How do you go about scheduling something like that?
We have a worldwide song kick in every 10 songs, augmenting the regular schedule. That secondary schedule is there to ensure that the world music is a subtle constant throughout the day.
Do you find for retail that you’re challenged by people (employees) who are in the store constantly, having to combine the needs of the customers with the needs of the people who listen to it all day?
Yeah, especially for retail environments more than any other concept. If the employees aren’t happy, the customers aren’t happy and that leads to lower sales. Samsung recognizes this – happy and engaged employees are a key piece to their atmosphere. The music has to do its part to encourage this.
Music sommeliers for experiential brands