SAN FRANCISCO—Rocker Bruce Springsteen may have said it best: “There’s 57 channels and nothin’ on,” but Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ Lauren Bucherie aims to change all that with curated music to one’s ears.
Music has been Bucherie’s passion from an early age when she’d watch home movies made by her mother. “She always picked fun songs by The Beatles or Rod Stewart to serve as the soundtrack to dance recitals or funny outtakes. I was fascinated by how the music impacted what I was seeing,” she said.
As the director of music for the hotel brand, Bucherie and her team are responsible for the soundtrack to one’s hotel stay at the brand’s more than 60 hotels and over 80 restaurants and bars—that’s 140 individually curated musical identities.
“This music complements the design and concepts of each property and is soundtracked to take the guest on a journey throughout the space,” said Bucherie. “As I look towards the future, I’m working on forging new partnerships with industry leaders and piloting new initiatives that will bring music closer to the guest and extend into their homes. It’s our goal to create a connective thread that extends beyond the walls of the hotel.”
Before Kimpton, Bucherie co-founded The Sessions, a music production company specializing in events, concerts and music videos with the goal of bringing the artists closer to their fans.
“The Sessions connected audiences with undiscovered bands and nationally acclaimed artists,” she said. “I worked with more than 100 artists, many who have gone on to gain national recognition including but not limited to The Civil Wars, Shakey Graves, Allen Stone and Fitz and the Tantrums. I also worked as a music supervisor on several films, which came full circle to how I originally fell in love with music with those home videos. Life is funny that way.”
In terms of setting the tone with music, Bucherie believes that music can comfort, transform and serve as a companion. “Whether you are traveling for work or for play, it can be a reliable part of your journey that makes you feel connected to new horizons or the ones back home,” she said.
To determine a hotel’s musical identity in each of the spaces, Bucherie’s process starts with a conversation with Ave Bradley, Kimpton’s SVP of design, so she can pull from her design inspirations.
“I love hearing about her vision for the hotel—down to the colors and textures—and how I can complement that with music,” she said. “From there, I put together a sample playlist, which we can tweak as our conversations evolve. Once I settle on a direction for the hotel side, I have a similar process with the restaurant concept team. I like to approach each new property with fresh ideas for the soundtrack and this process takes place anywhere from six months to a year prior to opening. The final touches are made a few days prior to this when the building and its design really come to life. We walk through to get a feel for the music and how it all comes together. I make final adjustments right until the very end and constantly update the playlists throughout the year. It’s an ongoing and ever-evolving process.”
Kimpton is elevating the way music is featured on-property through a variety of activations, including live music during wine hour at several hotels; brunch programming; live performers or DJs nightly at Hotel Van Zandt (Austin, TX), Sawyer (Sacramento, CA), Tryon Park (Charlotte, NC) and the Kimpton Epic (Miami).
“Without giving too much away, I can say we’ll be seeing more Kimptons with live music and programming as a part of the design and concept,” she said.
In terms of how music is consumed today, Bucherie sees lots of options and opportunities for everyone. “I’m an avid Spotify and Apple Music listener; I don’t think people have to pick just one player,” she said. “I have a dozen or so playlists that I check into weekly to see what’s new and what’s worth obsessing over. I purposefully led myself down rabbit holes of ‘related artists’ for hours each day—or at a minimum, weekly—so I can let the bands I already love introduce me to new discoveries.”