As I walked into the grocery store today, I was greeted with the usual music piped in over the loudspeakers that permeate the sonic space of the store. Someone long ago decided that people like to hear music when they shop. And not just any music, but a specific brand of upbeat music that apparently makes you want to shop and buy more things. I deduce, mostly through the power of observation, that “selling more stuff” is the only reason every store in the world seems to do this. Wait – that’s not exactly true. Every store that purports to care about the customer experience does this. And the grocery store is no different.

But instead of the store forcing me to listen to something I may not want to hear, why can’t I ask the store to play music that I like? I have a smartphone that knows where it is. I could tell it what music I like to listen to and then whatever store I go to could play it for me.

Now not every store would want to play all kinds of music, so they could limit what genres they’re willing to play. But what about the other shoppers in the store? Well, we could create an ordered list of our preferred musical genres/musicians/albums and the store could use a simple voting system to determine the most popular music based on its current occupants.

And, like magic, when a tour bus full of rockers and groupies overwhelms the local Sav-A-Lot at 2 am, the gentle muzak of soft jazz transitions into energetic heavy metal, both simultaneously alerting the cashiers and subtly influencing the purchasing patterns of a bunch of road-weary musicians with munchies.