A Brief History Of Music On Hold Delivery Systems

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A brief history of music and message on hold delivery.

1966: Radio On Holdpartial photo of Alfred Levy Patent for music on hold circuit In 1962, when Alfred Levy discovered a problem with the phone lines at his factory, he located a loose wire that was touching a girder on the building. The steel in the building picked up the music being tranmitted by a nearby radio station. Callers heard the radio station on hold. By 1966, Levy patented his on hold electrical circuit and the “hold button” was born. Pictured: part of the patent Levy filed in 1966. (As told by Wikipedia.)

1970’s: Cassette TapeBogen Pro Hold music messages on hold player with cassette tape Music licensing organizations do not approve of re-broadcasts of copyrighted music over phones without a license. Soon it was discovered that custom announcements on hold could improve sales. Cassette tapes provided audio programs that would repeat endlessly (or “loop”). The one pictured is still sold for over $350!

1990’s: Audio CDIntellitouch on hold player with CD With digital audio available since the early 1980’s (the first commercially produced CD was an album by Abba in 1981) music on hold players eventually caught up and allowed use of audio CDs. The unit shown here is still sold today. The disc is used to transfer the sound onto an internal audio chip.

 

2000’s: .mp3 AudioProDigital USB-40 music on hold player plays .mp3 files The Motion Pictures Experts Group was formed in 1988 to set audio standards for the rapidly evolving digital audio market. Within ten years the group had landed on a form of digital compression for the transfer and playback of audio, greatly reducing the amount of data needed to create good-quality audio. Many message on hold players use .mp3 audio, allowing quick downloads from a website or email, and portability via removable media (usb) drives. The unit pictured is a USB-Type player made by ProDigital.

2013: Live Streaming Music On Hold Messageseasy on hold logoStreaming Music On Hold Player

In the fall of 2013, Easy On Hold launched the first custom messages on hold streaming service, offering unique streaming channels to customers worldwide. Easy to manage 30 to 60 second audio spots rotate on a specific schedule to deliver timely content to callers on hold. Some cloud-based phone systems can use this service with no equipment needed, while others use a digital streaming music on hold receiver (shown: Grace Digital IRBM20) to capture the live audio stream. This solution is actually ahead of the curve, as cloud-based phone systems are slowly migrating toward streaming content for callers on hold.

Free Christmas Music Channel from Easy On Hold

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Free Christmas Music Channel from Easy On Hold

James Torme

James Torme, featured on the Easy On Hold Christmas Channel live streaming music.

Love Christmas Music? We do too!

Easy On Hold has under license a very nice selection of Christmas music, being made available to you free of charge via a live stream, for the remainder of the 2013 Christmas season. The live streaming Christmas Music Channel is an example of how Easy On Hold can now stream custom music and messages on hold.

Streaming Christmas Music Channel From Easy On Hold

There are over 60 pieces (and more being added) of quality music streaming live, spanning traditional, new age, jazz and acoustic styles.

How To Hear The Free Christmas Music Channel

You can hear the stream  using the player in this blog, below, or by loading the URL into a browser.  For for best results, stream from VLC Player, Winamp Player , iTunes or Windows Media Player.

Featured Artists

James Torme

James Torme

James Torme, the son of jazz vocal legend and composer of The Christmas Song, Mel Torme. “James Tormé is definitely his father’s son – smooth and cool.” – Dan Aquilante, NY Post

 

Ellis Hall

Ellis Hall

Ellis Hall, former lead vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist for funk/fusion group Tower Of Power, and a studio musician appearing with James Taylor, Toto, Kenny G, others.

 

Jim Brickman

Jim Brickman

“America’s Romantic Piano Sensation”, Jim Brickman.

Oakland, California blues vocalist Chloe Behrens.

The free Christmas Music Channel is appropriate for background music in your office, home or as music on hold.

Enjoy—and Merry Christmas!

Troubleshooting Guide For USB Type Music On Hold Message Player Device

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USB-Pro MUSIC ON HOLD TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE
About The USB Pro

The USB-Pro, like other .mp3 music on hold message player devices, delivers a constant stream of sound for phone systems that allow introduction of on-hold audio by an external on hold device. This guide will help troubleshoot for lack of audio and poor sound quality. You may download this guide as a pdf (click here to download usb message on hold player troubleshooting guide).

USB-Pro mp3 Music On Hold Player

USB-Pro mp3 Music On Hold Player

Problem: No Audio On Hold

  • CHECK SPEAKER FOR SOUND: Some on hold audio players come with a speaker button. Is the unit putting out sound?
  • CHECK VOLUME: Is volume control off or too low?
  • CHECK AUDIO OUTPUT FOR SOUND: Adapt a headphone (ear bud) to RCA jack using adapter (Radio Shack RCA 274-871) and check output from 600-Ohm and 8-Ohm audio outputs on back of unit.
  • CHECK MEDIA: The USB-Pro comes with an “internal” message on hold track. When the USB media (usb drive, thumb drive) is removed from the unit, the internal audio plays. Test by removing media or replacing media drive. Check drive content on a personal computer.

Problem: Audio Is Poor Quality

  • CHECK VOLUME: If the audio seems to get faint or fade in and out, try more volume. Some phone systems have an anti-noise filter that will try to turn off the hold music unless a certain volume threshold is reached. More volume will indicate to the phone system that intentional audio is present.
  • CHECK CONNECTIONS: If the audio is intermittent, check the connections at the player and the MOH input to be certain they are secure.
  • CHECK WIRING: All wiring must be insulated. Old audio cables may need to be replaced. Message on hold players purchased from Easy On Hold include one RCA-to-RCA cable and one RCA-to-3.5mm adapter plug for use with 3.5mm telephone system MOH input receptacles.
  • TEST USING LAND-LINE PHONE: Cell phone signals often distort or warp music on hold. Call in using a land-line for the clearest test signal.

More Tips:

  • Callers hear the music on hold message in progress, not from the start. The player repeats the audio production over and over.
  • There is no need to turn the music on hold player off. It is designed to play 24/7.

Watch Video Showing USB-Pro Music On Hold Player

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Music On Hold For Marketers Who Want Better Results

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Music On Hold Provider Offers Internet-Load “Smart Player” For Savvy Marketers Who Want Better Results

June 6, 2012—The music on hold industry and Easy On Hold is making leaps and bounds with the latest in on hold technology– “smart players” that automatically provide content downloads right into the phone system, with the ability to provide automatic stop and start dates, even day parting for targeting content on specific days and/or times. ‘It’s a new day for music on hold,” says Julie Cook, president of Easy On Hold, a U.S.-based music on hold provider.

“This technology changes everything about our industry’s ability to compete as a relevant marketing tool,” says Cook. “Until now, it’s been difficult to market to callers on hold with any date specificity. Advertisers try to keep up with promotions or holiday or seasonal pushes, and it’s a lot of work to remember to pull it after the fact, so you end up with old content. It’s embarrassing and hurts your brand image. Advertisers have given up, choosing generic content instead,” she continues. “We knew we could do better.”

“With a smart player, you can start a promotion on July 1 and know it will end correctly on July 15, for example, because of the automatic start and stop programming. Or, callers can hear about a promotion on Monday that you don’t want them to hear on Wednesday, or a morning announcement that won’t be heard in the afternoon. It’s that specific. It opens up new opportunities for advertisers that they didn’t have before,” Cook says.

The players are loaded onto the client’s network and also into the phone system, but pose no IT risk because they’re not streaming the audio. “They pull in the audio once or twice a day, and then the door closes again,” Cook explains. “There is no way this system can ‘bring down’ your network. The players are smart, but they’re not that smart.”

One new development is in the area of VOIP technology, or phones that use the internet to deliver service. Currently, there’s no way to introduce an external player into most VOIP phones. “The better VOIP developers understand that music and messaging on hold is a vital element to their client’s marketing program, and they’re working with us to develop the ability to introduce an external player, like a smart player, into the mix. Otherwise, clients have to upload files into their phone systems. They don’t get the scheduling capabilities offered by the smart players, and even worse, the files play from the beginning each time,” Cook says.

Cook explains that in addition to internet-load technology, Easy On Hold provides traditional USB-based players as well as supporting clients with legacy CD and cassette players.

For more information, contact Julie Cook at Easy On Hold, 888-798-4653 x 22 or Julie@easyonhold.com.

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How To Connect A Music On Hold Message Player

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Is music on hold installation a do-it-yourself project? It might be as easy as plugging in an audio cable. Here’s what you need to know.

THIS REPORT APPLIES TO: Connecting a professional music on hold player to an MOH input on a PBX or KEY style phone system. IT DOES NOT APPLY TO: Off-site or hosted PBX systems, non-PBX or KSU-less phone systems (i.e., ordinary office phones purchased at electronics or office supply store).

AUDIO TRAVELS FROM MUSIC ON HOLD PLAYER INTO PHONE SYSTEM
First, let’s take a look at the “big picture”. Audio is played continuously from the music on hold player. The sound travels from the AUDIO OUTPUT over the audio CABLE to the MOH INPUT on your phone system.

8 OHMS OR 600 OHMS? WHY TWO OUTPUTS? On the back of your music on hold player are two connections labeled AUDIO OUT. The 600-Ohm output is intended for telephone systems. (If your particular situation needs a louder signal, you may use the 8-Ohm output without harming your equipment.)

The 8-ohm output is appropriate for sound amplification systems, such as public address systems used by museums and amusement parks.

RCA CONNECTOR
Introduced by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) this plug is also known as cinch/av or phono (a term meaning phonograph, but too easily confused with phone, as in telephone). All professional music on hold players sold by Easy On Hold use an RCA connection for the audio output.

 

 

REPLACING RADIO OR CD PLAYER

If you are replacing an in-use audio source such as a radio or CD player with

 

your new professional music on hold player, remove the connection from the player and adapt the plug to RCA.
Adapters are inexpensive and easily found at electronic stores, or by calling Easy On Hold at 1-888-798-HOLD (4653). Shown: RadioShack 274-871.

NO PLUG AT ALL?

Perhaps your telephone technician connected wires for music on hold directly into your telephone system. Try connecting an RCA plug on the end for the music source.
A “punch-down block” is a device for attaching wires to phone systems. Your telephone technician may need to attach the on hold playback device there. A telephone technician using the proper tools will be required if changes to the punch-down block or any other part of your phone system are needed. Do not tamper with your phone system’s punch-down block.

TIPS & TRICKS

  • Never force a 3.5mm (mini-plug) into an RCA receptacle. Once the inside of the receptacle is bent, the correct plug will no longer make the connection.Never plug an audio cable into a power receptacle. To be sure, plug in the AC power adapter first and see that there is power to the unit.
  • Some on hold audio players come with a speaker button. Is the unit putting out sound? If so, turn the volume to 50% and call in. Once on-hold you can adjust the volume.
  • If the audio seems to get faint or fade in and out, try more volume. Some phone systems have an anti-noise filter that will try to turn off the hold music unless a certain volume threshold is reached.
  • If the audio is intermittent, check the connections at the player and the MOH input to be certain they are secure.
  • All wiring must be insulated. Old audio cables may need to be replaced. Message on hold players purchased from Easy On Hold include one RCA-to-RCA cable and one RCA-to-3.5mm adapter plug for use with 3.5mm telephone system MOH input receptacles.
  • Cell phone signals often distort or warp music on hold. Call in using a land-line for the clearest test signal.
  • Callers hear the music on hold message in progress, not from the start. The player repeats the audio production over and over.
  • There is no need to turn the music on hold player off. It is designed to play 24/7.
  • A support ticket can be submitted online at www.easyonhold.com/support.

Get the full report: Connecting_Music_On_Hold_Message_Player_Equipment-Easy_On_Hold_Whitepaper.pdf

 

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Can Your Message On Hold Company Be Green? 10 Ways We Are.

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Music on Hold by Easy On Hold

A recent blog post at AutoMPG.org gets it right when they say:

Message on hold is one of the most cost effective methods of communicating a company’s marketing message to its customers and prospective customers, and it works.  But messages on hold can also be one of the most environmentally friendly forms of advertising there is.

Here’s how Easy On Hold is helping:

1)  We offer message and music on hold players that are managed over the Internet. See information about the iProMOH by Interalia on our site. If you’re managing multiple locations, this type of unit will save you from driving from location to location to maintain and update. Messages are transmitted from the Easy On Hold studio directly to the unit.

2)  Internet delivery of music on hold messages means removable media need not be shipped.

3)  Cassettes and CDs are disposable.We can keep these from landfills.

4) Cassette and CD packaging can be eliminated, saving paper and plastic.

5) CDs are petroleum-based products. Eco Facts – It takes an estimated 300 cubic feet of natural gas, two cups of crude oil and 24 gallons of water to make a pound of plastic, which is enough for 30 CDs. Further, it’s estimated that it will take over 1 million years for a CD to completely decompose in a landfill. [Source - Back Thru The Future, a New Jersey-based company that recycles electronic devices.]

6) Easy On Hold’s music library is updated and delivered electronically. We do not purchase CDs for the reasons described above.

7) Easy On Hold is now paperless. Our new client scripting service is 100% online. Our writers, producers and clients can easily log in and write scripts that can be stored and produced digitally.

8)  Our message-on-hold systems do not use batteries. Easy On Hold recommends the use of a professional music on hold player, rather than an “i-pod” type player that utilizes a battery. We definitely discourage the use of all types of batteries.  Kate Krebs of the national Recycling Coalition states, “Lithium Ion batteries are classified by the federal government as non-hazardous waste and are safe for disposal in the normal municipal waste stream.” Most other types of batteries include toxic metals such as cadmium. [Source: Computer World] Why use a product that creates waste?

9)  AutoMPG.org points out that on hold messaging players may use about 1/50th the energy of a standard light bulb. That’s efficient.

10)  Of course, using available “on-hold” time allows you to talk about ways your company is environmentally sensitive–an issue that is increasingly influencing buying decisions. Contact Easy On Hold for help with a custom music message on hold.

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