Driver's CornerPassenger Experience

How to Add More Magic to Your Uber Ride With Music

By January 14, 2015July 27th, 202010 Comments


    I’ve always been a big fan of live music.  And one of the things I enjoy most about driving is putting on a good playlist and seeing how the passengers react to it.  I don’t play a lot of main stream stuff but it’s awesome when the passengers says, “Hey great song!” and it usually leads to a nice rating and once in a while even a tip.

    Today, I’m sharing a guest post from Joe Strandell, who I first met on Facebook when he shared his music strategy with me.  I was very intrigued by what he does so I asked him to guest post and he kindly obliged.  If you have an idea for a really valuable and/or unique post, feel free to e-mail me and pitch me on it.  One of my goals this year is to feature more city-specific content so if there are some strategies that work well locally, I’d love to hear about them.


    Hey RSG fans, my name is Joe and I drive for Uber part time in Santa Barbara. I’m originally from Nashville though and it was in Nashville where I developed my love for music. Today, that passion lives on through Uber.

    Sometimes there’s time for music during your Uber ride. Sometimes there isn’t. But music has the ability to break all sorts social divides. It’s a powerful connector.

    Spotify Premium is the best musical curation toolorEh-U-w

    For about $10 a month, you can have a virtually unlimited music library. In 2014, I listened to about 47,000 hours of music. You could say that I’m a bit obsessed. I’ve had premium for a few years now and I don’t need anything else, except maybe the radio once in a while.

    I also feel that Spotify is way better than Pandora. Pandora and Spotify BOTH have good radio functions but the main difference is that Spotify has an unlimited library where you can create your own playlists.

    (RSG: I use Google Music which is very similar to Spotfiy Premium)

    And as Harry has mentioned before, it’s a huge plus if you have an AUX cord. That way, people can play on their own phone if they want. I’ve had that happen multiple times.

    The radio is a good option if you have nothing else

    Sometimes it’s good to play whatever’s local too. It’s refreshing to hear local bands and local news.

    It can also be fun to guess what people listen to before they enter the car. One time I had this older lady walk up to my car. Instantly, I hit the classical button on the radio station. As we were driving down the highway, she asked “How did you know that I like classical music?” That made me laugh. “You just looked like the type of person who likes classical music” I said.

    Apparently she was a classical composer that majored in music with a list of students she developed over the years. I asked if she was on Spotify. She was. We listened to her in my car and I think that was a very enjoyable thing for her.

    Here’s an idea

    Start with the music turned off when they enter the car. You want to set the stage and start off on neutral ground. You want to gauge how they are when they enter the car.

    Ask yourself questions when you see them.

    Where are they heading? A party? A business event? Are they hungover? What are they in the mood for? Are they in a rush? Does the situation even call for music?

    One time, I picked up a couple from the El Encanto hotel. The girl had a really cute lap dog, who’s name was Eddie, apparently because they liked Eddie Vedder. I asked them if they had seen Into the Wild. Apparently, they LOVED that movie.

    So I put on the main theme song to the movie, Hard Sun by Eddie Vedder. She said “nice touch” and the guy gave me a $20 tip at the end of the ride. Turns out that he was a fellow Uber driver.

    A passenger’s destination is a good consideration too

    Think about where your passenger is headed. What about where they are coming from? This can often help you pick out a song.

    One time I picked up some teenagers from a Wacka Flacka concert…

    I show up and 6 people crowd into my car. I was hesitant to take them all at first but the requester promised me a decent tip. Ok why not. Some risks are worth taking, right?

    Next thing I know, I’m blasting Wacka Flacka in my car. Now, I’m not into this type of music but there is a time for everything I suppose. It’s about what the riders likes.

    At the end, the girl sitting behind me puts her hand on my shoulder, thanks me for the ride, and leans in and gives me a kiss good bye. It was a nice gesture. Props to the music 😉

    Are they hungover in the morning? Play something sweet and soft. Are they in a rush? Does the situation even call for music? If it is a stressful situation, I like to this the classical button on the radio and this can help calm things down quickly.

    Music has an intoxicating effect

    One time, I picked up three inebriated blonde girls from the Santa Barbara funk zone. The blonds hop in the car and start chatting with me. Naturally, I turn on some John Mayer and start singing, because I’m from Nashville and that’s what we do. We get to their house on the Mesa and they invite me into their house. I go in and share a bag of chips. That was it.

    Consider the rider’s ethnicity

    Sometimes I’ll have them type what they want in my phone and it’s some kind of traditional Chinese, or Indian, or Middle Eastern that I’ve never heard of.

    I picked up a passenger from a train station one day and I asked him what kind of music he was into. He was from the Middle East. I asked him to type the name into my phone. All of a sudden, this traditional Middle Eastern music starts playing and his eyes lit up.

    That was a neat experience. If you can play music that matches the passengers tastes, then it makes for a great touch and it will surely be a very enlightening and memorable experience for them.

    Originally from Nashville, Joe rideshares now in Santa Barbara, CA and shares his experiences on his blog, His interests include music, marketing, and a good cup of coffee.

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    What about you? Do you have a music strategy? What service do you use? Any good stories? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

    Harry Campbell

    Harry Campbell

    I'm Harry, the owner and founder of The Rideshare Guy Blog and Podcast. I used to be a full-time engineer but now I'm a rideshare blogger! I write about my experience driving for Uber, Lyft, and other services and my goal is to help drivers earn more money by working smarter, not harder.