5 Reasons On-Hold Music Is Awful


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:

  1. 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).
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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/

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Founder of Easy On Hold and Brandi Music. Thinker, writer, speaker, tinkerer, husband, father, musician.