It is a universal understanding: on-hold music is bad music. But I know why. I also know how to correct the situation.
First, here’s a post dedicated to why music on hold has such a bad reputation. 5 reasons most music on hold is awful:
- Continuous Audio. Callers need to know that they are still connected, so music is piped in to create a continuous flow of audio. I suppose it could be all speaking, but music seems like a harmless idea (at first).
- Licensing Required. Now that we’ve decided to use music in the hold queue, we can’t just put on our favorite CD. Music on the hold button is considered a ‘re-broadcast’ of that tune, which requires a performance license. To solve this problem, “royalty-free” music is produced by home-grown musicians with a keyboard and a Mac. This explains some of the cheap-sounding instrumentation and sampled loops. Bad.
- The Tech Guy Did It. Is the music on hold a function of I.T. or Marketing? We say marketing, but many a tech-person has been asked to connect a music thing-a-ma-job up to the phone system and keep it on the cheap. Hey, you can’t blame the tech department, whose proposal for a multi-channel acoustic music feed got shot down. Some phone systems have an internal music loop, which is always bad. It was just a place-holder, folks. It was meant to be replaced with something better.
- Bad Equipment. Why does music on hold sound like it is running on an old cassette machine? Because it’s running on an old cassette machine. There is a pile of old equipment out there, most of which has been neglected.
- Decision-makers Are Unaware. I guess it’s been a long time since the CEO called and was placed on-hold. Music on hold is forgotten.
There are other reasons, such as bandwidth restrictions, cell phone signals, and… well, just bad taste. For a real-world view of bad music on hold, check out this great post: http://www.neatorama.com/2010/04/12/11-recordings-of-terrible-hold-music/