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A popular gym in the UK made the decision to switch to royalty-free music has sparked a controversy that has gained international attention, highlighting the significant impact of music on user experience. Members have expressed their dissatisfaction, citing the new music's lack of personality and its impact on fitness classes. This shift has led to class cancellations, instructor departures, and membership losses, underscoring the vital role music plays in creating compelling user experiences.

"Their decision to switch to royalty-free music has diminished my experience and eroded the gym's sense of community."

The Rise of Royalty-Free Music

While royalty-free music and 'off-the-shelf' tracks have improved significantly in recent years, they often lack the emotional depth needed to create truly memorable experiences. The gyms controversy illustrates the limitations of these tracks in engaging and motivating audiences.

"The new music resembles lift music, which fails to inspire or motivate. Since the switch, many classes have stopped, and instructors are struggling with routines."

The Emotional Impact of Music

Music has the power to elevate mood, improve endurance, and create immersive experiences. Studies have shown that music can reduce perceived effort and enhance engagement, transforming workouts into sustainable habits. The gym's experience reveals the disconnect between generic music and curated tracks that resonate with people on a deeper level.

"Music is my therapy, helping me stay strong for my son. The new music is so terrible that I can't face going to classes anymore, affecting both the classes and my well-being."

Member Feedback and Dissatisfaction

The gym's members have expressed their frustration through a petition that has gathered nearly 2,000 signatures. One petitioner described the new music as "mediocre, dull, and joyless," likening it to "background music for YouTube." Another compared it to "white noise," arguing that it diminishes the energy and engagement of fitness classes.

"Their lack of consultation has led to boring classes, ruining my workout enjoyment. Correct music is essential to reflect instructors' individuality and passion."

Members emphasize that recognizable tracks are crucial for motivation and enjoyment. One petition signer stated, "Listening to music that you like and know while exercising doesn't just relieve boredom, it motivates you to push harder." Others highlighted how curated playlists and instructors' unique styles create dynamic, engaging classes that foster a sense of community.

Curated Music and the Human Touch

Human curatorship plays a critical role in crafting dynamic experiences. Curated playlists reflect cultural nuances and emotional triggers, allowing instructors to create classes that inspire and engage. The gyms controversy reveals the limitations of algorithm-driven music choices, emphasising the importance of instructors’ unique curation in motivating members.

"Their switch to royalty-free music reveals a disconnect between management and its members, stripping away the energy and enjoyment from classes."

AI-Generated Music

The gym's controversy also raises concerns about the potential impact of AI-generated music. While technology has made it possible for algorithms to create tracks quickly and at scale, these compositions often lack the emotional depth and cultural resonance that curated music provides. The backlash against the gyms switch to generic music, which was crafted by humans but designed to serve multiple purposes, highlights the limitations of such approaches. If this is the reaction to human-made music tailored for generic needs, one can imagine the dissatisfaction AI-generated tracks would provoke. These compositions, lacking human intuition and cultural sensitivity, risk further alienating audiences, underscoring the importance of human curation in crafting resonant and engaging sonic experiences.

"The new music policy is demotivating for both instructors and members, stripping instructors of their creativity and hurting the overall gym experience."

Bad Music and Business:

Poorly chosen or generic music can undermine brand identity and customer loyalty. The gym's failure to consult its members on the new policy has led to dissatisfaction, resulting in canceled memberships and lost revenue. Businesses need to understand their audience's preferences and invest in creating engaging sonic experiences.

"Switching to generic music will take away the enjoyment and could lead me to join a gym that values its members more, showing how essential good music is to the workout experience."

What This Means for Brands

Balancing convenience with quality in music offerings is essential for businesses. Curating tracks that resonate with audiences and elevate experiences is particularly crucial in industries where music plays a pivotal role. Sonic branding can differentiate brands and create memorable experiences that foster loyalty.

The cool down!

The gym's controversy highlights the impact of music on brand identity and customer experiences. It shows how music's emotional depth and cultural resonance can make or break user engagement, offering valuable lessons for businesses. Brands must consider the power of music and sonic branding in creating compelling experiences that enhance identity, loyalty, and business success.

At WithFeeling, we specialise in crafting bespoke sonic experiences that resonate with your audience on a deeper level. Our curated soundtracks, sonic branding strategies, and music design services ensure that your brand stands out, fostering engagement and loyalty. Contact us to explore how we can elevate your brand's identity through powerful and emotive soundscapes.

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