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Hold Music for Phones

Hold music for phones is produced and regulated by organizations such as Muzak and AMTC.

The more pleasant the hold music, the more likely the caller will remain on the line. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
The more pleasant the hold music, the more likely the caller will remain on the line.

Hold Music for Phones

Hold music for phones is a business customer service phone system feature that provides recorded music with optional recorded voice for customer callers placed on hold. Most callers have had at least some first-hand experience with this type of service thats become almost an integral part of daily life in America and other parts of the world.

Music on Hold systems (also known as MOH) can be installed directly on a businesss phone system typically via the telephone equipments audio jack, which will be labeled MOH. In other types of MOH business telephone systems, music files are automatically downloaded from the Internet directly to the phone system. These types of Internet-directed systems are also known as Online On Hold. Other MOH systems use USB connections to deliver music programming directly to system equipment via removable flash drives (also known as thumb drives).

The chief advantage of Music On Hold services is that the hold music results in less customer hang-ups than waiting in dead silence. This is mostly because dead silence often indicates a bad or lost phone connection.

Music on Hold Service Providers

Music on Hold service providers include:

Applied Media Technologies Corporation (AMTC) - one of the largest Telephone On Hold service providers. The company offers Music on Hold through its TelAdvantage products and services, and the on-hold content is a mix of low-key sales voice messages mixed with universally appealing music.

Easy On Hold - a service provider that offers a free two-minute custom Music On Hold program demo to prospective customers. Their programming content files are delivered in digital MP3 format as e-mail attachments via a USB plug-in flash drive. The MP3 content files are then played on Easy On Holds proprietary digital player, dubbed The Messenger, which holds up to 1024 individual media files.

Intellitouch On Hold Plus - also offers music programming via USB plug-in flash drives. For landline phones, Intellitouch offers their Telephone Extension Hold Music Activator (TEHMA), an equipment adaptor that provides On Hold equipment services for traditional business phone systems.

The On Hold Network - features a variety of subscription plans that include studio-produced custom messages complete with professional script development, prepaid music royalty fees and multiple professional voice talents.

Muzak - offers its own type of Music On Hold services. They create a customized blend of On Hold Music along with custom messaging. Their service works on most phones and business phone systems. Above all, Muzak offers 80 channels of 100% commercial-free business music programming from their extensive library of background music.

According to OHMA (On Hold Messaging Association), because on-hold service provider companies (other than the major companies) come and go, questions to ask a provider include:

  • How long has your company offered On Hold Music?
  • How many clients does your company serve? Do you have any customer references?
  • Are there any business sectors that your company's services are specially geared for?
  • Are any of the company's employees directly responsible for service installation, as well as customer service and support? Are these services provided by third-party companies or outsourced independent contractors?
  • Do any of the company's employees have telecommunications expertise and/or certifications?
  • How does the company's music and/or voice message recording process work? Are there any extra production costs?
  • How does the company's music selection process work?
  • Are there any legal limitations to the company's On Hold Music programming? Are there instances where music licensing fees are not included in the service?
  • Does your service support more obscure business phone service equipment such as Voxware, TrueSpeech and CCIT u-law?

Music Copyright Issues

Businesses using On Hold Music for their phone systems should note that playing CDs or tapes of commercially available music may create legal complications. Users of commercial music can be hit with expensive licensing fees payable to music industry policy agencies, especially ASCAP (The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) and BMI (Broadcast Music Inc.).

ASCAP classifies Music On Hold as a public performance (i.e., a performance that is transmitted to the public) that requires permissions from the owner of the music piece or his or her representative. Lists of music considered as performed works are available online at the ASCAP Clearance Express title search database.

BMI collects license fees from businesses that use music and distributes the fees as royalties to songwriters, composers and publishers. Businesses using local radio stations are not exempt from BMI royalty payments.

Blanket licensing arrangements are offered as packages or as unlimited access from both ASCAP and BMIs licensed repertory for a contractual period of time.

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