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October 17, 2010

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Background music is key

SHANGHAI native Edmund Qi has worked around the country in the broadcasting industry for more than 15 years. A few years ago in Beijing, he and his co-workers frequented a small cafe owned by a Taiwanese restaurateur. As professionals, they soon got bored with the music played in the cafe. A friend of Qi burned several CDs featuring songs he likes, and they asked the owner to play it when the group visited the cafe.

One day, to their surprise, the owner thanked them for the CDs, saying many customers had inquired about the music. Some came to the cafe just to hear the beautiful background music.

"I realized it would be a great business opportunity," Qi recalls. After two years' research and preparation, he launched "2 muse," a company providing quality, custom-made, legal in-store background music for restaurants, bars, stores and other businesses.

Qi talks to Shanghai Daily about his business and his plan to educate the budding market.

Q: What is "customized background music?" How does it work?

A: Nowadays, more and more business owners have come to realize the importance of decoration. They are willing to pay a lot on furniture, carpets, tableware and even lighting systems. However, few of them have realized the importance of background music. If you notice, most of the music played in local restaurants, bars and stores is poorly programmed, often not suited to the type of business. As a matter of fact, background music is an important "soft decoration," as demonstrated in many Western countries and Japan. Our job is to provide clients with music specially designed to suit their individual needs. For example, a Chinese restaurant/tea house often requires light, soothing music while a sportswear store needs more energetic punk and rock'n'roll.

Q: How do you select the content for clients?

A: For example, a restaurant/bar that opens from lunch time till late night needs different kinds of music for different periods. At lunch, it may require light music; during the afternoon, when most staff are getting lazy, it needs stronger Latin tunes to keep them awake; in the evening, soft jazz or classic masterpieces go best with the dinner mood; while late at night, lounge, chill out and house music helps customers to enjoy a fully relaxed night. We have a complete collection of all kinds of music, ranging from instrumentals, such as light music, jazz music and classics, to those with lyrics, including pop Chinese/Western songs and Chinese classics. We also have strong existing relationships with rights holders and collection societies. The content is delivered through custom setup boxes and is updated monthly.

Q: Who are your target customers?

A: Our target customers are large department stores and international restaurant/bar chains who care a lot about their company images. They have not only realized the importance of quality background music, but also are willing to pay royalties to rights holders when playing it.


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