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Why Your Business Needs a Hold Music Stream For Asterisk And OnSIP


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Does your business utilize the Asterisk or OnSIP phone systems? If so, you have a valuable opportunity to enhance your customer experience. A custom hold music stream for Asterisk and OnSIP may be easier than you think. Streaming music can captivate your callers while they wait, leaving a lasting impression of professionalism and brand identity.

With a custom music on hold stream, you have complete control over the audio your callers hear. You can choose music that reflects your brand voice (upbeat and energetic or soothing and tranquil?). A custom music on hold stream improves caller experience and presents a unique opportunity for marketing and branding. You can include informative messages-on-hold or promotions-on-hold that educate and engage your callers. Through carefully selected audio and messages, you can effectively communicate your company’s values, products, and services to a captive audience.

While most hosted VOIP systems play uploaded audio files as the hold queue, Asterisk, and OnSIP VOIP systems offer the option to stream audio for callers on hold. Easy On Hold developed a groundbreaking streaming solution ten years ago, and is the streaming hold music expert. Successful companies use streaming hold messages and music because of the big impact streaming can have on the on-hold experience.

Benefits of using custom music on hold streams for Asterisk and OnSip

A custom music on hold stream is an investment that can pay off in multiple ways. Here are some of the benefits of using a hold music stream for Asterisk and OnSIP:

1. Better music becomes available via streaming licensed music

Due to complex music licensing laws, not all music can be used legally on a phone system. Have you heard that there are fines for playing music without a license? It’s true. Streaming music from a licensed source, however, can open up many more musical options.

2. Improve branding and marketing

A custom music on hold stream is an opportunity to showcase your brand identity and values. Create a cohesive and memorable experience for your callers by featuring music and messages that align with your brand voice and message. Also, use this time to promote your products and services, offer special deals or promotions, or share company news and updates.

3. Custom streams can create better customer experiences

A custom music on hold stream can differentiate your business from competitors who use generic hold music or stale “thank you for holding” messages. Streaming hold messages can be programmed to play on certain dates, giving you the opportunity to talk about very specific topics. Relevant, interesting and timely topics you show your customers that you care about their experience and are willing to go the extra mile to engage and entertain them. This can build loyalty and trust over time. Customer experience is king.

How to implement a custom hold music stream in Asterisk and Asterisk-based FreePBX

By one industry estimate, there are about 2 million installations of FreePBX, the open-source IP PBX management tool managed by Sangoma Technologies. You can easily add a custom hold music stream in FreePBX and in most versions of Asterisk using an MP3 stream and the basic mpg123 command-line player

  1. Log into your FreePBX interface and navigate to the “Music on Hold” menu, under settings in recent versions of FreePBX
  2. Click “Add Streaming Category”
  3. The Category Name is arbitrary, so you can just type MOH Stream
  4. For Application, we’re going to use MPG123 to play the steam here. Make a note of this command line, as you’ll need to get the resampling parameters right
  5. /usr/bin/mpg123 -q -r 8000 -f 8192 –mono -s
  6. Leave the “Optional Format” field blank
  7. Submit changes. Now you’ve now got an MOH class ready to use wherever you want on your system.

We recommend updated mpg123

The mpg123 command line player is how most hold music streams are built in Asterisk-based systems. It has been used commercially since 2007, and as of this writing is currently on version 1.32.3. We highly recommend that you upgrade to the newest version of this open-source command-line player. In some of our testing at Easy On Hold, certain icecast streams will fail after a few minutes on older versions of mpg123.

Implement streaming hold music and messages in OnSIP

Onsip offers four options for music on hold: silence, “standard MOH” (default music on hold), enhanced streaming using platform-hosted music and enhanced custom streaming hold music.

Create a streaming audio source in your OnSIP admin panel. This will allow you to insert the URL. provided to you by Easy On Hold, which will play your music and messages as programmed in your Easy On Hold Content Control Center.

After creating your streaming audio resource, you will need to assign the stream to each user or user group. Under the Users option go to Call Settings, then click Edit Info. Go to Inbound Call Settings > Music On Hold. Find more instructions from the Easy On Hold Knowledge Base article about OnSip. Look at the section, Where do I get the hold music URL for streaming into OnSip?

Case studies: Businesses that have benefited from custom music on hold streams

A restaurant has lunch specials that callers hear about in the morning, and dinner specials in the afternoon. Restaurant messages on hold include promotional items, special events, catering and more.

A credit union with a limited-time interest rate that gets more “ear time” than other announcements in the rotation. An important streaming feature is setting up a “priority” for each unique topic. Credit Union on hold messages often talk about events, special savings accounts, home equity, and other loans, and help callers feel more confident about how their personal information is protected.

A doctor’s office uses “good morning” and “good afternoon” phrases to make patients feel welcome while they wait on hold. The live stream of audio from Easy On Hold can automatically inject unexpected and friendly greetings that refer to the time of day.

Hold music industry slow to respond to the hosted VoIP shift

As an increasing number of businesses opt for off-site or virtual phone systems, the music on hold industry has been slow to respond. On-hold equipment providers continue to offer devices that connect via on-site audio inputs, while production companies have been content to offer audio files for upload. The result: hosted VOIP end-users are missing out on the marketing potential of timely messages on hold. Easy On Hold clients using OnSIP or Asterisk-based systems, however, now have access to a full range of hold messaging features via a never-before-offered solution.

About OnSIP and Asterisk

OnSIP hosted SIP VOIP phones logo

OnSIP is a UCaaS business solution, meaning it is a centralized cloud-based platform for a variety of communications, including business phones. OnSIP is now part of the Ooma group of communications companies, which includes Broadsmart and Voxter. Its voice communications platform is based on FreeSWITCH, an open-source telephony software.

Asterisk VOIP

The Asterisk phone system is an open-source software solution that is very popular among I.T. providers such as internet technology integrators. The Asterisk website says:

Asterisk is an open source framework for building communications applications. Asterisk turns an ordinary computer into a communications server. Asterisk powers IP PBX systems, VoIP gateways, conference servers and other custom solutions.

Asterisk is the software foundation for Bicom Systems phone systems, among others.  

More information about how streaming hold music and messages works

Here are some specifics about how Streaming MOH improves the on hold experience for callers on hosted VOIP systems such as OnSip and Asterisk:

  • Your content is organized into specific topics businesses want callers to hear. Think of each topic as an individual “message”. Typically, a company will have between 6 and 10 topics or messages playing at any time.
  • You can use a variety of music backgrounds. It’s a welcome departure from the old “voice-over-4-minute-music-track” approach. Choose music that will support each topic.
  • You can quickly stop or start any topic without disturbing other content.
  • Your changes will be heard immediately, as the stream is live.
  • For topics that are time-sensitive, try using a priority rating, allowing select messages to play with greater frequency than others in the live group.
  • All content is legal and licensed through various agreements between Easy On Hold and music publishers and producers.
  • For various company locations or departments, consider using multiple streams of unique content, creating various “caller experiences.”

What IT experts say about streaming hold music as an option

A call center manager who switched to streaming hold music and messages from Easy On Hold recently remarked on how simple the setup was. The stream is a light load on bandwidth. When Easy On Hold first rolled out the hold music stream for Asterisk and OnSIP, IP telephony techs from New York to Honolulu participated, quickly arriving at the same conclusion: The stream is a piece of cake.

Conclusion: The impact of custom music on hold streams on customer experience and brand perception

In conclusion, a custom Hold Music Stream For Asterisk And OnSip is a valuable investment for any business that uses Asterisk or OnSip phone systems. By enhancing customer experience, improving branding and marketing, and differentiating your business from competitors, you can reap the benefits of a custom stream for years to come. With a little effort and investment, you can transform your on-hold experience into a memorable and valuable touchpoint for your customers.


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