01 March 2006

Seattle replacing generic on-hold music with local bands

My cell phone died quietly this morning so I'm on hold right now trying to get it replaced. What's that mean to EAR FARM? Well generally it means a lot of hassle, some sneaky sales tactics, and some really terrible music to listen to while on hold and this got me wondering what I might find if I did a general search for 'hold music'. The search turned up lots of duds and things like companies that sell crappy royalty free stock music but there was one result that caught my eye down at the bottom. On Google's search page it read "Seattle is replacing generic on-hold music with homegrown bands playing everything from soothing original piano compositions to hip-shaking Latin ..." and it had me wanting to read more.

From an article on seattlepi.com:

"Seattle is replacing generic on-hold music with homegrown bands playing everything from soothing original piano compositions to hip-shaking Latin arrangements.

Hoping to promote the city's musical heritage and make those waits more tolerable, Seattle today debuted OnHold, a program that plays a rotation of tunes by local musicians during the 56 seconds the average caller must kill while trying to reach a real live person at the Seattle Public Utilities Call Center.

It goes beyond complaints over garbage pickup or power outages. Anyone trying to reach city offices will get a chance to hear the new lineup.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to showcase Seattle's amazing array of musical talent in a way that is both innovative and fun," said Mayor Greg Nickels in a statement. "The program is a great way to support local artists and expose more people to the incredible diversity of music this city has to offer."

Marty McOmber, the mayor's spokesman, said the idea came up last year, when the city would receive calls from people asking about the music they heard while on hold. The city experimented with the idea briefly late last year during the holidays, subbing in local musicians playing songs themed to the season.

If on-hold listeners like what they hear in those (hopefully) brief intervals, they can go to http://www.seattle.gov/onhold/ to find out more about the artists through Web links and concert calendars.

The city's site also has links to Amazon and CD Baby, where listeners can become buyers. Through agreements between the city and these third-party retailers, the artists' revenue remains intact, while about 7 percent of the sale goes toward the city's Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs to support arts education."
That kicks ass. Read the rest HERE.

The website they link to has the current playlist and some MP3 samples and also says:
OnHold plays music from some of Seattle's best artists on the City of Seattle phone systems and web page. We hope you don't have to wait long the next time you call for a City service, but if you are on hold, you'll be able to listen to authentic Seattle music. Listeners might hear Wayne Horvitz, Seattle Pro Musica, Dave Peck, Aono Jikken, and many others. Play lists rotate quarterly.
Fine, the samples I checked out still sound like 'hold music' but at least it's from local artists who are getting exposure through this program. And hey, the Seattle Center claims to have "Styles range from hip hop and bhangra to rock and West African music."

(picture of the original Starbucks from HERE)

4 comments:

pjbrubak said...

I too have suffered from lousy hold music in my many dealings with insurance companies. Interesting article.

Sali said...

Great blog--I enjoyed your article and look forward to learning more.

Sali Oguri
singer-songwriter

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