Nearly one million people listen to the music in Chipotle restaurants each day, but most have never heard of the DJ.
That person is Chris Golub, the founder of Studio Orca, a company that creates music playlists for hospitality and retail businesses.
Chipotle is Studio Orca’s largest client, in terms of number of locations.
And the Mexican fast-casual chain is pretty proud of the groove Golub, 48, creates. On its website, Chipotle boasts: “We also work pretty hard to find the right music to play, because everybody knows the best parties live and die with the DJ.”
The chain, which has more than 1,400 locations, has been working with Golub for four years to create its hip atmosphere.
“What our company does is, what I like to call, creating a musical identity,” Golub said. “We’re sourcing out unique material that has a freshness about it and a sense of place, if you will.”
Golub, who called Internet radio stations and employee iPods some of the “worst decisions you could make” for retail music sources, said there are days he’ll listen to as many as 300 songs before finding a potential track for a client’s playlist.
Unlike Internet radio stations that frequently determine song selection by genre, Studio Orca selects each song individually based its own criteria and the client. Nothing heard on traditional radio or “mainstream” is used. Tracks must fit the desired vibe of the client’s space, and the studio listens for matching baselines, lyric content and recording quality of each song to ensure they pair well with each other.
The team scours music blogs for new material, and Golub said he attends as many as four live shows a week in New York City to scout bands for new music.
Environment is also a factor in choosing tunes, Golub said. His team considers a retailer’s whole space, down to the type of chairs and number of people it can hold.
Playlist success isn’t just measured by the number of heads bobbing. Clients see tangible impact from the music, Golub said.
Including Golub, Studio Orca has only five employees — one of whom is part-time. He’s picky about who he hires, meaning he also has to be picky about his clients.
Golub was tight-lipped when it came to discussing exactly where he scopes out music for his clients, but the music itself is no secret. Studio Orca works hard to answer inquiries about the music playing in its clients’ stores. If a customer asks what song is playing, the client can forward the inquiry to Studio Orca’s email, and will get an answer within 48 hours.
“I think it’s a really cool point and one of the great things that our company does,” Golub said. “Dude, we are music fans. We want to make our clients really happy and that’s one of the ways that we go above and beyond and for us, it isn’t even above and beyond.”
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