What Does Your Brand Sound Like? Exploring The Sound Of Topgolf

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Topgolf is a sports entertainment facility headquartered in Dallas, Texas with locations throughout the United States and the UK and are touted as a premier entertainment and event venue with a fun point-scoring golf game, upscale resto-bar and great music.

To better understand what goes in the sound of Topgolf, I sat down with Zack McNair, the Prescriptive Music consultant who handles the the Topgolf account.  During our conversation we discuss the overall concept, the art of choosing the right songs, promotional content and how he goes about tackling the task of creating the music schedules that he does.

Q: Off The Top…Zack, could you tell me how you started working as a music consultant?

Sure – I basically fell into it for a career, but it started with years of listening to music and then simply a desire to make a living doing something I enjoy.  I’ve always had a sense of knowing what to play in a certain environment whether that was for parties, music gigs, and more.  With the job, you really have to know or at least be open to all types of genres, and also understand how music fits into the ambience of a room.  But again it’s a passion, and there’s a creative element to it which makes the work a little more effortless.

Q: Awesome.  So, you work on the Topgolf account – could you give us a little overview of what you do for them?

Topgolf is a really unique concept.  Each site is an entertainment complex that revolves around golfing on what I’ll call a high-tech driving range.  You play against your friends and scores are tracked by microchips in the golf balls.  Very cool stuff.  It’s also a bar and restaurant where you can hang out into the late hours.  My job is to add to the vibe they’ve got going – fun, social and high energy.  I oversee their programming at all of their US locations and keep the music upbeat and playful to match their brand.  Other things I do include scheduling their promo messages and setting the music up for special events.

Q: So are there different audio zones? Does the driving range section have a different music schedule than the restaurant area?

It’s all one zone, which means the same feed goes to all parts of the building that they want music playing.

Q: Could tell us a little more about the music? Is there a certain brand standard throughout the locations?

There’s a bit of a general template I set up at all Topgolfs.  The main concept is a mix of upbeat, recognizable pop and rock tracks that people know and love.  We’ve set up both a day and night playlist that cater to different demos — all-ages during the day and younger, hipper at night.  The day music covers a wide range of eras.  You’ll hear anything from classic rock to 90’s alternative to current pop.  Nighttime leans more high energy pop and alternative.

So while that’s the general feel, sites can customize the music as they want.  Some ask for no country, or less alternative, only classic rock in the morning, and so on.  They want to make sure that the music speaks to their brand but caters to the local market as well.

Q: Cool – so what would you say is most important for you, as a consultant, to know about Topgolf in order do this type of work? What type of strategic planning is required and how do you go about that?

Well number one, you need to understand the vibe that the client is creating for their customers.  I’ll start by finding out what the space is like.  If I can, I’ll meet them in person and do a walkthrough, but other times it may just be a description from the client.  In Topgolf’s case, I think about what soundtrack I’d want on if I were there. Visualizing the room and the people there really helps.

Q: You mentioned that “promos” are of interest to Topgolf.  Can you explain what this means?

I work with their team to schedule Topgolf-branded promotional messages in with the music.  It’s usually one of two types: a station ID or an announcement-type message.  We have their music branded as Topgolf Radio, so you’ll regularly hear messages like “You’re listening to Topgolf Radio!” But you’ll also hear advertisements for upcoming events and special programs they offer.  They constantly rotate in & out, so part of the job is keeping it all running smoothly.

Q: So these promos function similar to radio advertisements but they are exclusive to the client?

Exactly.

Q: Cool – so, do you find that a lot of these promos come from corporate and are then deployed across all locations? Or how does that work?

Yeah, they’re all from the corporate team.  They give me directions on how and where to place them and I put it together.  Some are rolled out to all locations in the same manner while others may only play at a few sites, or only scheduled for a specific timeframe.  It really just depends on the promo and the intended strategy.

Q: Last question: Can you name three artists that would sum up Topgolf’s brand?

I’ll go with Van Halen, Lady Gaga & The Black Keys.