Dollar Tree Stops Playing Music In Store

Ultra-cheap discounter Dollar Tree has turned off the in-store music in all of its stores, citing cost issues. On the company’s Facebook page, shoppers keep complaining that the company is being too cheap (many don’t seem to know about licensing fees for music), but Dollar Tree’s official response is that it freed up expenses to keep prices low.

keeping our expenses as low as possible is ALWAYS a focus at Dollar Tree. By doing so, we can continue to offer amazing values to our customers. The decision to remove store music was not an easy one, but the savings from that allow us to expand the variety of fantastic items we currently offer our customers. At Dollar Tree it’s about providing customers all the things they want and need every day and all for $1.

Dollar Tree Facebook Page (Thanks to Megan!)


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  1. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    Couldn’t they play public domain songs? Or maybe old jingles for companies no longer in business? It’s like Wendy’s olde newspaper tables, but in audio form!

    • Bakergirl says:

      That’s what I was thinking…I could listen to a muzac version og “How much is that doggie in the window?”

    • He says:

      Plenty of public domain classical stuff on

    • catskyfire says:

      The challenge is that while the composition may be in public domain, any performance of it is under its own copyright.

      So if you play the Boston Philharmonic’s ‘Jingle Bells’, there are still royalties involved. If you play Bob’s All Star Kazoo Band’s “Jingle Bells’, there are royalties involved. If you record it yourself, you can waive the royalties.

      • Billy says:

        It’s important to note that such performance rights are only for digital transmissions.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      Oh great, even more signs that Demolition Man (the movie, not the song) did indeed predict the future.

  2. phildbs says:

    I know I don’t understand much about licensing and whatnot, but can’t they just tune into a local radio station? It seems like many businesses do this.

    • Mariushm says:

      You would still have to play to one group that collects royalties for songwriters and to another group that collects royalties for artists.

      • MMD says:

        Would you, though? Doesn’t the radio station do that?

        • Fafaflunkie Plays His World's Smallest Violin For You says:

          Depends. I don’t know the way it works in the US, but in Canada, if, for instance, I played music from a local radio station as “on hold” music, I’d be subject to licensing fees. If I played it through one speaker in my business, I wouldn’t, but if I hooked up a second speaker, I would. If I dared play the music that came out of a Sirius/XM receiver, or from the digital music offerings from cable/satellite, or plugged my iPod into my receiver and played them that way, yes, I’d be liable for an ass-reaming. Guess it depends on the situation. Does Muzak still exist? Truthfully, I’d rather not listen to the crap that comes from a retailer’s speakers, but that’s just me.

        • Billy says:

          The radio station pays for its broadcast (a performance) to the airwaves. A store pays for its performance to the customers.

  3. says:

    I hate store music, so this is a win.

  4. FatLynn says:

    I thought there was a reason they played music…doesn’t it make people spend more?

    • fantomesq says:

      It makes people more at ease and spend more time in the store which often equates to greater sales. Completely silent stores and unnerving and people don’t stay as long where they don’t feel comfortable. Many people wouldn’t be able to pinpoint that the lack of music was what was making them uncomfortable but most retail stores decide that the music licenses are worth having. Cutting corners and rebroadcasting without a license will get you burned.

      • vastrightwing says:

        And the economics is probably that the amount all the proper licenses cost is just a little higher than the return.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      I dunno, depending on the music, it usually makes me spend LESS. Sometimes, the music is just too awful to tolerate being there for very long. Our Walmart doesn’t play music, either, but it’s probably because between the garbled loudspeaker announcements and the general sound of a herd of elephants, you wouldn’t hear it anyway.

      • dg says:

        I was in a Home Depot once where the satellite muzak went nuts and started switching stations every 30 seconds. There’s country, rock, pop, kiddie (sesame street), cartoons, dance, jazz, techno… After 10 minutes of this, you heard silence…. the guy in the computer room ripped out the satellite feed…

        In-store muzak is a rip off – licensing, same damn songs over and over…. Any store that turns off the music gets my vote…

    • OnePumpChump says:

      It makes me want to leave faster.

  5. WolframOmega says:

    Thank God. Wish more stores would do this — I can’t stand all of that “greatest hits of the 70s and 80s” garbage when I’m shopping.

  6. colorisnteverything says:

    Who cares about the store music anyhow? As someone who worked retail for years as a high school/college student, I was always happiest when the in-store music service broke. You get SOOOOO sick of hearing the same 30 songs again and again let me tell you!

    I think while working at Gap, we only had about 15 songs and during Christmas, I wanted to kill myself.

    • Mike says:

      Where in the world do these retail stores find their Christmas music? Seriously, some of those songs were so bad I am shocked no one has been killed over that crap. One store I worked at such a bad Christmas music I can feel my blood pressure going up just thinking about it.

      • colorisnteverything says:

        Agreed! I remember working at one store which had a song about getting sucked up by an alien in a spaceship. It was a store that catered to wealthy professional women. I was always wondering if they even LISTENED to the music before choosing to pay licensing fees or just chose the cheapest ones. Every time the song would come on, a coworker and I would just start laughing because it was SOOOOO bad.

      • QOTSA says:

        Nothing like listening to Celine Dion’s Christmas Hits. That was the ONLY cd that the store I worked at played. Hearing each song at least eight times an hour for two months make me want to strangle both her and whoever chose that cd!

    • axhandler1 says:

      “If I have to hear ‘Yah Mo B There’ one more time, I’m going to ‘Yah Mo’ burn this place to the ground.”

      • jennleighh says:

        This cracked me up. I love Paul Rudd.

        When I worked at the now-defunct Eckerds in the late 1980’s, we had “Tequila” and “Girl from Ipanema” on heavy, heavy rotation, but I hated nothing worse than the “Ain’t No Way to Treat a Lady” that played every hour, on the hour. And my manager, an otherwise nice guy, would sing along. God I hated that job.

    • redskull says:

      I worked at a grocery store back in the 1980s, and the store music was bad back then too. One day I noticed a box on the wall of the stockroom labeled Muzak (believe it or not, they have their own satellite that they use to beam music into stores). I unplugged it, and we had 67 blissful months of Muzak-free shifts, before the manager finally noticed it and plugged it back in.

    • sew12 says:

      I couldn’t agree more.

      Once you work in retail for any period of time you will come to hate store music.

      If I ever hear “Shiny Happy People” by REM ever again I won’t be able to reach for the off button fast enough.

  7. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I have noticed that a lot of places do not have music.
    There are a few restaurants around that are dead silent. i hate dining at them because I feel like everyone’s conversations are being broadcasted throughout the place.

    I guess it’s something I notice right away. I wouldn’t really care if the Dollar Tree had music or not. It’s more noticible when it’s a restaurant or a small empty store.

    • Smashville says:

      What restaurants have music piped through them?

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Chains such as Applebees and any place with a bar as part of the restaurant.
        The Thai place down the street from me plays 80’s American music at a low volume.

        I’ll just say, it’s common enough that I notice when there isn’t any music.

        • NarcolepticGirl says:

          Even the fancy steakhouse down the road has classical music playing.

        • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

          I always notice the music in restaurants; my wife never does. The volume seems to be at the edge of the subliminal range for a lot of people.

  8. Keter says:

    Don’t like music in stores. Always makes me wonder if they’re using it to cover subliminals, which I like even less.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      Isn’t subliminal messaging like hypnosis? It can’t make you go against your beliefs?

  9. COBBCITY says:

    If Family Dollar plays music and they don’t, it is a major misstep because it will make them look like they are failing compared to their biggest competitor or going broke. If Family Dollar does not, they are making a smart move and the public will quiet down in a week or so.

    • Dover says:

      I don’t think Family Dollar is a real dollar store; Dollar Tree still sells everything for under a buck, right? I guess they’d both fall under the “inexpensive retailer” category, but I’m not sure I would consider them direct competition.

    • redskull says:

      I think it would be tough to tell if a dollar store was “failing” or not.

  10. Grogey says:

    I worked at a convenience store when in college. When you are all by yourself and all you have is that music playing things like “down town” scare you for life.

  11. pantheonoutcast says:

    No one at Dollar Tree has a radio? Or Pandora?

    • fantomesq says:

      Nope. Retail stores have to pay to rebroadcast audio (including radio). Most simply pay for an audio service that includes the license. The Big 5 music companies employ spotters who visit stores, note what is playing and if it is in their catalog but the store doesn’t have a license, they are fined and just like they did with music downloaders, the fines make retailers think twice before skirting the licenses again.

      Many of my fellow students held these positions through law school.

      • Big Mama Pain says:

        Yep, the restaurant next door to where I worked was fined 2 million dollars by these robbers because they employed an accoustic guitar player that played covers. The whole thing is an extortion scheme. It’s SICK.

  12. jonmason1977 says:

    Can they not just have the radio on?

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      I was just thinking that…what sense does it make not to just have a radio playing?

    • fantomesq says:

      Not without paying a license fee to rebroadcast.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Wha? Isn’t that rather counter-productive to the producers? One would think they’d WANT to be getting free marketing of their products…

  13. NarcolepticGirl says:

    I love going to Kroger and Walgreens and using my hand as a mic and singing along to tunes such as “Just the Two of Us”, “Higher Love”, “Another Day In Paradise” & “Turn the Page”

    …boyfriend doesn’t really care for it, though,

    • Cameraman says:

      ZOMG, I do the same thing. My wife hates it, although it amuses our toddler to no end. I’m particularly proud of my bass rendition of “My Girl” by The Temptations.

      • NarcolepticGirl says:

        Strange – I think I got it from my Dad. I have vivid memories of him singing My Girl while we were in stores or in the car.
        Is there some sort of “Must Sing ‘My Girl’ in Public and Embarrass Family” requirement for Dads?
        He also used to change words around in the song (which I do, too).

        • Cameraman says:

          Yes, it’s in the daddy manual (Chapter 17; Jokes Only Get Funnier Upon Repitition: Amusing yourself and embarrassing your family is a win-win situation… for you).

          It’s a nice breather after chapter 16 (Your Son Will Hate You No Matter What You Do, So Accept it Now and Enjoy The Early Years).

      • Sparkstalker says:

        I admit – I’m guilty of the same thing. Especially at Silver Diner, with the jukeboxes on the table…

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      When I used to stock shelves overnight, I almost learned the loop the company played. And heaven forbid you were around when “Walk Like An Egyptian” came on, or even worse: When “All By Myself” came one.

      • Dalsnsetters says:

        I LOL’d reading about Walk Like An Egyptian….in the 80’s I worked for a music publishing company (vinyl albums mostly). They released a one-shot song… the group’s name was “The Swinging Erudites” and the song was “Walk With An Erection.”


    • kc2idf says:

      I usually hum the bass line because these in-store music systems are usually (though not always) pretty weak sound-quality wise. Drives my wife nuts.

  14. ret3 says:

    Dollar Tree’s muzak was all wretchedly cheesy covers of not-so-great songs. I’ve spent a bit of time there while my wife gathers stuff to put in cheap gift baskets, so I’ve had time to note that the “hits” are not being performed by the original artists.

  15. xnihilx says:

    If only most stores would stop. Though, sometimes playing music is ok (could do without holiday music.)

    I just don’t get why my local mall must pipe music through the whole place. Utterly annoying.

    Plus, I have a heard time hearing when there’s too much background noise and I’m only in my late 20’s. Then you get clerks who mumble. I cannot imagine someone who was hard-of-hearing or older etc.
    Also, having worked retail, hearing the same fifty songs over rand over starts to wear on a person.

  16. JasonR says:

    A lot of stores have replaced Musak with Sirius. Even properly licensed, it’s only $29.95/mo for a business account: If a dollar store can’t afford $1/day, there’s a problem.

    • peebozi says:

      agreed…one store not being able to afford, or care about, $29.95 per month may be in trouble. 4,000 stores comes to $119,800 per month…plus install costs which aren’t cheap.

      anyway, the free market will take care of this.

    • drjayphd says:

      Which explains why Five Guys around here sticks with the 80’s station… adding to the unadulterated, unbridled AWESOME that is them. :)

  17. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    It’s the Effin Dollar Store!?!?!? If they can’t keep their prices low, they have to change the name.

    “Variety of fantastic items”

    Did I mention it’s the Dollar Store?!?!?

  18. Draygonia says:

    Other stores play radio… no licensing for that. Get into the 1900s please!

    • fantomesq says:

      Not true! Get caught rebroadcasting radio without a license covering the songs and you’ll incur heavy fines…

  19. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    You can still get music from their jukebox. The cost? Yep, $1 per song.

  20. scientific progress goes boink says:

    I wish my job would do that. Silence is 100 times better than the awful “music”. I love the days when the muzak system goes down, but unfortunately it likes to just repeat the same 5 crappy songs over and over far more often.

    • MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

      Sounds like a lot of the radio stations around here. Same five songs every hour… and they suck… “Oh gee, I haven’t heard Ke$ha in like ten minutes… I hope it comes back on, soon.”

  21. Cameraman says:

    When I worked in our retail location, we used to be right next to the Home Theater department. I watched The Incredibles on a loop for over a year.

    I am happy to report that that movie totally holds up under repeated viewings. And I have to laugh every time FroZone asks “WHERE. Is my. Super. SUIT!”.

    We got moved to another part of the store, and I miss the background noise of The Incredibles.

    • waffle iron says:

      I when I worked retail selling TVs I watched Cars on repeat for months and months. The alternative was Star Wars: A New Hope. The movie is still a lot of fun after hundreds of viewing with the exception of that godawful Cheryl Crow song they used as the theme.

      Frequently I would be standing around greeting customers and when there wasn’t anyone around I would mouth/wisper the dialogue under my breath. A couple times customers would see me and laugh.

  22. Ivan says:

    Not in a related business but our branch office (not open to the public) is the only one left with a music contract nationwide. We get so many requests to change channels, change volume, etc that I am tempted to just cancel the contract. I listen to my own music anyway and the music coming from the speaker above my desk is annoying.

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      They finally compromised in my office, and programmed each day of the week with something different. We all dread Wednesdays, though, because it’s all organ music and B-side 30’s records.

      Thursday is all 80’s, and I get twice as much work done.

      Fridays are all country, and I put on headphones.

  23. ellmar says:

    Store music makes me want to puncture my eardrums with the nearest sharp implement. It’s always too loud. I’ve taken to carrying a set of earplugs whenever I go shopping. Sometimes I forget to take them out before the sales clerk begins the obligatory “register chat” so I just stand there smiling and nodding like a fool.

  24. ellemdee says:

    To be honest, I haven’t even notice the lack of music. I know once in a while @ Dollar Tree I’d hear some odd 80’s or 90’s song and laugh, but seriously? People are complainint about the Dollar Tree being “too cheap”? It’s dollar store. If you want ambiance, go to Macy’s in December. Most stores have the option of raising prices. Dollar stores’ business model prevents them from doing so. If it’s either sell crappier merchandise or cut out the music, I say ax the tunes.

  25. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    There are lots of stores that don’t have music. How is this even a big deal? How do you get mad at someone for not wanting to pay broadcast fees? How long does it take to shop in a Dollar Tree anyway?

  26. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    It’s Dollar Tree, not Nordstroms. How much time are people spending in there that lack of music becomes a noticeable problem? Why not turn on the radio? Some stores do that, and it’s not all that annoying as long as you don’t turn it way up.

  27. cromartie says:

    Am I the only person that actually likes store music? One of the last slightly cheesy but familyish things about WalMart was the “WalMart Radio” they used to have on the overnight shift where guys stocking shelves could call in requests. It made midnight shopping fun. Now, shopping at WalMart and Target are exercises in walking through giant silent morgues that sell stuff, and frankly that’s creepy.

    Same thing with restaurants. I’ll never tell you the food at Outback or Ruby Tuesday is any good, but I favor those two restaurants a little bit when I travel because (particularly in the case of RT) the Muzak system cranks out stuff I haven’t heard before that is really quite good.

    Have we grown so cynical of the consuming experience that ambiance now literally counts for nothing?

  28. oldtaku says:

    Not that I spend much time in a Dollar Tree (I don’t even think I’ve seen one), but I would kick back to them or anyone else to /not/ play their stupid generic autotuned crap while I’m shopping or eating.

  29. AjariBonten says:

    Seriously, I might just go into a Dollar Tree now! I might be getting old or something; but I find the music in most stores so distracting that I can’t concentrate on deciding what I want to get. I was in a Lowe’s the other day trying to compare various varnishes and finally had to give up! The music was so loud that I couldn’t concentrate.

  30. The_IT_Crone says:

    If it helps them have more than one register open when there are 20+ people in line, then good. I’ve stopped shopping at Dollar Tree for that reason.

  31. YOXIM says:

    So people are complaining about the lack of Muzak in a store? What the hell? When did this become a bad thing?

  32. cancercat says:


  33. thewriteguy says:

    Dollar Tree may have just gotten more of my business now due to this.

  34. Jemaine says:

    Why not just turn on the radio?

  35. jim says:

    you can play a radio if your store has a maximum of 2 speakers. you get a bill from RIAA for thousands of dollars per store for playing music. You don’t have to pay it but open yourself up to liability if you are exceeding guidelines.

  36. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Yay! I hate music in the store, mostly because it’s too damn loud. I want to relax when I’m shopping, not listen to blaring soft rock, country or (gag) elevator music. All of which I hate.

  37. benh999 says:

    Big win. Are we so brain-dead that we can’t go somewhere without background music? Restaurants, train stations, retailers, etc. God forbid we can hear ourselves think.

  38. SunsetKid says:

    You can’t have a radio on without paying an ASCAP license. No music is not a big deal.

  39. Dalsnsetters says:

    Thank you whatever power finally made them stop with the music! All of my Dollar Trees around here (St. Pete, FL) play their music really, really loud. I’ve complained a couple of times when it was just too damn loud. Glad I won’t have that to contend with anymore.

  40. zandar says:

    air conditioning costs money too. as do employees. and a building.

    parking lot of cheap stuff sold on the honor system, i’m thinking.

  41. czarrie says:

    There was music at Dollar Tree? The ones around here have been silent as long as I can remember.