Background music refers to the various styles of music or soundscapes primarily intended to be passively listened to. It is not meant to be the main focus of an audience, but rather to supplement that which is meant to be focused upon. Music that is played at a low volume and is not the main focus of an audience is also referred to as background music. Traditional examples of background music include music played at various social gatherings and music played in certain retail venues. It is also common to employ background music in various electronic media including film, television, video games, and Internet videos such as video blogs.
In both radio and television advertisements, music plays an integral role in content recall, intentions to buy the product, and attitudes toward the advertisement and brand itself. Music’s effect on marketing has been studied in radio ads, TV ads, and physical retail settings.
One of the most important aspects of an advertisement’s music is the "musical fit" or the degree of congruity between cues in the ad and song content. Advertisements and music can be congruous or incongruous for both lyrical and instrumental music. The timbre, tempo, lyrics, genre, mood, as well as any positive or negative associations elicited by certain music should "fit" the nature of the advertisement and product. For example, playing classical music in the background has been shown to increase the amount of money that people are willing to spend on a product, as it is associated with an "upmarket" image.
Product involvement refers to the degree of personal relevance and perceived purchase risk regarding a given product, while advertising involvement refers to the amount of attention directed toward the advertisement and its content. Both types can be more cognitively (content-focused) or affectively (emotion-focused) oriented, changing the way in which background music interacts with advertisement viewing or listening.