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How to Choose Your Company’s Hold Music

Since hold music first came around in 1962, when a loose wire started transmitting radio signals into the dead air between call transfers, it has been a staple of American business. Getting put on hold is inevitable. Customer frustration, however, can be mitigated with carefully choosen recorded messages, trivia, and of course, music.

Truths about Hold Music:

Music can distract a caller from boredom.

According to the Journal of Retailing, “[M]usic reduces the negative effects of waiting because it distracts attention from the passage of time, and, as a result, consumers perceive the length of the wait to be shorter than that when there is no music.”

Hold Music Tweet

But that only goes so far.

Case in Point: A company invested significantly in hiring a DJ to produce their hold music. When customers found out, they complained about the allocation of funds, arguing that the company should have invested in more representatives rather than better music.


Music can define your brand and reinforce promotional messages.

Many companies don’t consider music, outside of TV or radio commercials, when they consider brand strategy.

But they should.

Case in point: Cisco took a relative unknown song, Opus No. 1, by Tim Carleton and Darrick Deel, and made it their default hold music. Now the song is known around the world and synonymous with their brand.

And if you think customers don’t notice when the music fits, think again:

Hold Music Tweet 3

While the research on appropriateness is scarce, suffice it to say, that “Happy” is probably not the best choice if you work at a funeral home.


One person’s jam is another’s noise.

There’s really no middle ground here, from Top-40 to smooth jazz, there are as many opinions about quality music as there are people on hold right now.

Hold Music Tweet 2

Case in point: One study noted that people stayed on the line longer for pan-pipe covers (compared to the Beatles and recorded messages). The study theorized it was because the pan-pipe covers were most similar to what people expected to hear for hold music, while the number of familiar songs played made them aware of the time they were on hold.

Research does agree on one thing: something, anything, is better than nothing. A recent Google survey found that 57.8% of customers were willing to hold for up to 5 minutes. So what is a person to do with all that time?

Tips for Hold Music

  • Use professionally recorded tracks.
  • Before playing music, and every so often, play a message explaining what is happening
  • Ensure that there is enough hold music cued to cover you for longer than your longest average hold time. Customers will notice when a song plays again.
  • Review your messages and keep them current. No expired offers!
  • Be creative!


To learn more about customizing your on-hold jukebox, or any other Telx Telecom VoIP Phone Service feature, contact a representative today, or visit

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