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2015-03-17 09:55:11
Do You Love 'Hold' Music?

Things We Love to Hate: How 'Hold' Music Began

MusicIf you’ve ever wanted to incinerate your phone rather than hear one more note of that infernal on-hold music, you're not alone. Russ Juskalian of Newsweek reports, 'Of all the depressing statistics about a lifetime of consumer existence, this may be the most distressing: each of us is destined to spend roughly 1.2 years on hold.' He calls it 'a near-death experience.'

Is Eric Satie to blame?

Simon Morrison, a Princeton Musicology professor, says we can thank French composer Erik Satie for the birth of background music, which he began writing in 1917 and referred to as 'furniture music.'

Or Alfred Levy?

Perhaps. But according to Tom Vanderbilt of Slate, ' the spring of 1962, an application appeared in the U.S. Patent Office humbly titled, Telephone Hold Program System.' The filer was Alfred Levy, a factory owner who thought music might keep callers from hanging up while on hold.'

And now, there's research behind it. In his Newsweek article, Juskalian says, 'Modern corporations, with the help of psychologists, have actually made a science out of keeping you on the line, using harmonic soporifics in an effort to subdue your rage.'

However, a recent paper for the American Psychological Association offered these alternatives: tell customers where they are in line instead of apologizing every few minutes (cue the sounds of thousands of customers hanging up on your apology). Your customers will experience more satisfaction when they feel the line is moving quickly. Does that mean hold music is on its way out? Hold on!


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