Your website's auto-play music may be losing you clients

August 26 | meggyfin

While it was the first piece of advice in our open letter to photographers, let's talk more about auto-play music and why it's killing me your business.

By: Joseph VasquezCC BY 2.0

Business owners and wedding vendors, you know I love you, but I have to get honest with you about something: the auto-play music on your website is NOT ok.

A recent example: I was waiting for my flight at LAX, and I was getting in some work during the down time. While writing one of my kick-ass advertorials, I clicked over to the vendor's site and got blasted by surprise music. It scared the shit out of me, it scared the shit out of the sleeping dude next to me, and left me feeling embarrassed. Not to mention not feeling good about someone taking control of my computer speaker's without my consent.

From Offbeat Bride's analytics, we know that a large percent of our readers read us from their work places. Chances are good they're probably at work while they're on your site, too.

Now, let's imagine that I'm a potential client…

I'm sneaking in some wedding planning at work… in my quiet office… with my boss within hearing distance… and I click on your website and BOOM! Auto-play music blares on my speakers. Yup. Not only would that have scared me, and the rest of my co-workers, it also would have probably gotten me in some trouble with my boss.

Here's Ariel with a little skit to illustrate my point:

Bottom line: Your website's music, though you may love it, and no matter HOW tasteful or fun it may be, is NOT doing you any favors. In fact, it may be losing you customers.

We at the Empire are so strongly against commandeering other people's computer speakers that, if we're going to write a post about a vendor who uses auto-play music, we actually ask them to turn off that feature for at least the week that they're being featured at the top of Offbeat Bride. We love our readers and don't want to get them into any trouble. Or scare them. Or embarrass them in public.

So think about killing your auto-play music feature (hey, you can always make it an electable option!) before you kill your potential business.

  1. Haha, this is so true! My husband always knew when I was doing OBB work bc RANDOMLY LOUD music would start blaring out of my computer.

    4 agree
  2. YES. THIS.

    I usually have my own music playing and I hate having to try to find the autoplay music and the pause button when I pull a website. It's bad enough when musicians do it; there's no reason for any other site to have it.

    26 agree
  3. Plus, you know how it bugs you when someone uses one of your photos without paying you?
    Yeah. That's how the musicians feel.

    Assuming that you've not paid for copyright usage or not using specifically royalty-free music, the music on your website is in violation of the law, kiddo. Thought it's not likely to happen, you may get slapped with a C&D or fine. Though your website itself does not make money, the music still must be licensed–regardless of how much of the song you use.
    If you really want to use music on your website, commission your own music and sign a contract saying specifically how and where you're allowed to use the piece, and for how long.

    24 agree
  4. Photographers and salons are the worst. Why do people think this works? It just makes me hit the mute button on my computer and cross you off the list without even reading.

    Also, splash pages. I'm looking for information, and the splash page is–well, in the way.

    19 agree
    • Salons often have techno music and it's like walking into a rave just to go see how much a haircut costs.

      7 agree
      • Don't forget women's fashion stores in shopping malls. I came to shop for clothes, not to boogie down.

        2 agree
  5. Not to mention, when you decide to work with the photographer, you end up visiting their site 100 times to log into their online proof albums and you get the hear the same song over and over and that song is ruined forever.

    We had chosen a pretty rare foreign-language classical piece to theme our entire wedding. The photog commented on the music and inquired the name. Was a little uneasy when, months later I found they were using the piece to theme their entire website, and I got to listen to my wedding song theme the slideshow of all their other weddings, so frequently that it started to sound like a commercial jingle. It would have been nice if they had at least mentioned they might like to use it on their site.

    16 agree
  6. This is so true. The unexpected music not only scares the shit out of me it also makes me quickly hit that little x to close the website and make a mental note to not go there again.

    10 agree
    • I always rush to X out of the page when ever it auto plays music. I never take the time to scroll through the page to find the music player and pause button.

      One time I really needed some info of this page and it was blaring some cheesy tween pop song. I was in a crowded room and quickly scrolled through the page to get the info and then slammed the laptop shut like it was a ticking time bomb.

      3 agree
  7. They definitely lost me. I had a rule while shopping for wedding photographers; if they had automatic music playing, it was an automatic no. Because even the ones that have the players ALWAYS had them in the most wee icons in at the bottom of the page.

    Y'all, your website is not your MySpace page. I'm coming to you for your photos, not your taste in dreamy acoustic guitar music. If I want a musical montage, give me a YouTube video that I have a choice in clicking.
    And make me happy by making it fun, with all your bad-ass shots set to Eye of the Tiger, or a sped up video of crazy poses set to Yakkity Sax.

    19 agree
  8. Thank you for stressing this. The auto-play is seriously the worst ever. I used to take the time to look for the little pause or stop button but it's usually so well hidden that now I just "x" out as quick as I can. (Hear that wedding photographers? I'm a wedding blogger who wants to feature YOUR weddings and give you FREE exposure but I won't because of your stupid music.)

    8 agree
  9. Oh yeah. Auto-play music is a nightmare! I never try to find the stop the damn music button, I just try to figure out which widow is playing it and close it as fast as possible. I wouldn't consider patronizing ANY business, wedding or not, which has auto-play music on their website.

    2 agree
  10. Autoplay needs to DIE. I hate it so much. For all the aforementioned reasons (browsing at work, listening to my own music, hate suddenly being blasted with sounds, especially since I often use headphoned), and also because I'll often open a bunch of tabs in a row for later reading and if there's autoplay I have to go and weed out from which of the tabs it's coming.

    19 agree
  11. You've said it! Eff auto-play! I rather listen to my own music anyway.
    Also, Ariel's skit just made my day. 😀

    3 agree
  12. For real. Autoplay music was a bad idea on Geocities in the nineties, it is a bad idea on Tumblr now, and it is incredibly unprofessional on a commercial site.

    17 agree
    • Completely agree.

      I don't come across businesses with autoplay very much (also not wedding planning anymore), but I am an avid tumblr user. If someone has autoplay music on their blog, I won't follow them out of principle, even though their autoplay music won't make it to my dashboard. Even if I love everything they post, it's the principle of the thing!

      1 agrees
  13. SO MUCH THIS, AND THANK YOU FOR SAYING IT!!!! (I'm shouting in equal parts frustration at the trend and glee that you've called it out!)

    This is actually something that DID have an impact on my choices, as a bride actively planning a wedding. Both sets of parents are very supportive, but also pretty hands off–mine because my grandmother planned my mom's wedding (not maliciously or anything, but she felt like she had very little say) and she didn't want to do it to me, and FH's because they are a 4ish hour drive from us–so we've wrangled all of our vendors, goods, and services ourselves. Looking for a place to have our rehearsal dinner, I ended up completely counting out a restaurant strictly on the fact that their very loud music came up immediately on loading into their site and there was no evident way to turn it off.

    I'm the kind of person who has music on ALL THE TIME, so the dissonance it causes is particularly annoying to me, nevermind the fact that it's totally not cool to hijack my speakers, or the fact that the music usually has absolutely no bearing on the professional/service the page is advertising. Auto-playing loud music and unskippable, inescapable flash intros only serve to show me, your potential client, that you don't bother to keep up with the times enough to realize that it's not cool anymore, and it's not cool FOR A REASON. When the internet was young, it was impressive. Now it just looks like you're trying entirely too hard, and failing harder.

    4 agree
  14. Or only use it on your "slideshow" feature, and warn people… I enjoy music with my picture slideshows! But warn me to put my earbuds in!!

  15. I'm not surprised to see people popping in to say "UGH NO MUSIC PLEEZ." But I am disappointed by the lack of response from the photographers/salon owners/etc who do use music on their sites!

    I would love to hear directly why they thought (or think?) that's a good idea and would contribute to a better user experience and, eventually, ROI.

    2 agree
    • When this issue first came up on Becca's original Open Letter post, we had a couple photographers chime in:

      As a wedding photographer with a flash site and music I was glad to catch this post. I didn't realize I was ticking anybody off, I thought I was enhancing the experience. I will kill the music ASAP!

      [link]

      4 agree
      • That "enhances the experience" idea STILL makes me laugh when I think about it. (And I think about it EVERY TIME I get blasted with music.)

        My response: "I don't need your website to give me "an experience," I need it to give me information.

        25 agree
      • I remember that post! You caught me "poking the bear" a bit… I was looking for a real defensive stance. As a designer I'm hyper-critical of ̶h̶e̶i̶n̶o̶u̶s̶ ̶d̶e̶s̶i̶g̶n̶ ̶c̶h̶o̶i̶c̶e̶s̶ questionable online business decisions, so I was hungry to hear reasoning behind them… from someone who isn't paying my bills!*

        *While I've been lucky enough to never meet anyone who desired a musical website, I know it will probably happen someday. I plan on being more than ready.

        1 agrees
  16. What? This can't be right. I'm still certain that a loud Beethoven's Symphony No. 8 is the way to go. Gets the customers energized.

    3 agree
  17. HALLELUJAH!!!

    This needs to be blogged and blogged and re-blogged from the mountaintops, because autoplay music is such a nuisance! The only thing worse is autoplay advertisements when you've opened a news story and are trying to read and then BAM some crazy ad comes on at full blast).

    17 agree
  18. Hatehatehate auto-play with the fire of a thousand suns. Also, venue websites are super guilty of this. Stupid tinny Casio-circa-1983 classical music does not enhance the experience of looking at your hotel / B&B / hall / historic mansion's website. No, not ever.

    5 agree
  19. Imagine this:

    You've been checking out a LOT of wedding sites and have turned off the auto-play feature on each and every one of them.

    Have you ever had your browser lock up, had to force quit, and then restart? If you have multiple tabs open with different sites that autoplay music, they all come up at once, all playing different freaking songs. Why? Because when you reload the page, the music on all of them starts to autoplay all over again.

    Yeah. That.

    23 agree
  20. I am so happy that it isn't just me that hates this and considers it a valid reason not to want to be someone's customer!

    2 agree
  21. I've noticed a lot of restaurants do this too! It drives me crazy. On some of the sites even if you turn off the music or mute it, once you go to a different page on their site (i.e. menu) it turns itself back on! 🙁

    4 agree
  22. Word. It's very simple: if your website plays music at me I will not spend any longer on it than it takes for me to find the little red x in the corner. I will never return to it. I will not spend money with you, ever.

    Make it stop.

    3 agree
  23. Auto-play makes me stabby. Remember back when MySpace was new and people would have their profile pages set to autoplay music ? Gah!

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