February 12th, 2009

But Siriusly, Folks…Back to Work!

You may have heard, somewhere in the background perhaps, that Muzak filed for bankruptcy.

Here’s an MOR-perspective podcast about it, bordering on inanity —

A better use of your time & in the pdf-blog spirit, here’s a musicological analysis, written 20 yrs ago (!) by me ol’ advisor —

     >> Radano, Ronald M. 1989. “Interpreting Muzak: Speculations on Musical Experience in Everyday Life,” American Music, 7, pp. 448-460.

& here’s a track I made 10 years ago (!) called “Elevator Hip-hop”; it samples the Beach Boys —

this is that same track, bit-crunched & chopped & dancehall’d up —


  • 1. Lateef  |  February 12th, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    It was only a matter of time…too bad — I mean I’m kinda torn between two points.
    1. Muzak’s ancient business model of making background instrumental music out of regular songs (glorified MIDI’s =O).
    2. Muzak fills a special space in my mind that connotes a relaxing elevator ride, a familiar and relaxing shopping experience, and having ice cream at my favorite mall.

    So Muzak, along with the familiar ‘hiss’ on audio cassettes and a standard telephone ring leaves us perhaps out of destiny. I guess I’ll have to listen to Hillary Duff on my way up to my next meeting.


  • 2. wayneandwax  |  February 13th, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I hear you on a certain nostalgia for muzak-kitsch — those “easy listening” / “glorified MIDI” / “beautiful music” versions of pop hits. At the same time, the company — and their various competitors, some of whom will no doubt remain in business and maintain our background soundtrack — had long moved into providing canned music of various sorts, including the original recordings themselves (arranged into proper genre categories customizable for hair salons, dentist lobbies, and the like). So, yeah, plenty more Hillary Duff — which means, maybe, that lots of us will miss the ol’ schmaltzy stuff.

    I mean, who could resist a little “Grunge Lite”? That synth-disco version of “Smells like Teen Spirit” is begging for a mnml refix!

  • 3. dabbler  |  February 13th, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    I have a pretty good amount of knowledge of this industry, as I actually work for a major competitor of Muzak/DMX/Hearmusic…

    I think that nearly every interview and article I see about this, is seriously missing things about their business.

    They may have been know for the type of music that we now refer to as Muzak, but most retail stores and their clients opt for Pop and Mainstream recordings, not the Muzak versions!
    Peoples are too often confused about the difference between Muzak (the company) and Muzak (the music style)

    also – the “business model” that they keep talking about in the interview posted above – is incorrect. Muzak (and DMX along with all the other major background music companies) charges quite a lot of money for their monthly fees, and that’s actually where they make their profit – not the machines. The residual charges for years and years of use is the only way to make the money! The fees you pay for access to multiple satellite channels are actually quite large, usually well over 100/200 a month, even as high as 400-500 if you want access to all of the different channels.

    Nevermind their custom playlists for larger companies with thousands of stores paying per store.

  • 4. w&w  |  February 16th, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    thanks for some insider’s insights, dabbler!

  • 5. canyon cody  |  February 16th, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    i love the snap crack pop vinyl bitcrunch intro


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

Tag Cloud

academic aesthetics af-am africa anthro arab art audio baby babylonia beatresearch blogging bookish boston brazil cambridge caribbean chicago commerce copywrong cumbia dance dubstep ethno europe events funkcarioca gigs global globalghettotech hip-hop humor industry internet interview jamaica jazz juke kwaito latin lifey linkthink mashup media mexico middleeast mixx nation newyork panama politricks pop public puertorico r&b race radio reggae reggaeton remix review riddimmeth0d rock sampling seasonal sexuality soundscape tech techno traxx UK video whirledmusic worldmusic youth



Creative Commons License

chacarron chacarronchaca-riggity-ron