Streaming services, like Pandora for Business and Soundtrack Your Brand by Spotify, are the new Muzak.

Most of us have heard the generic term muzak. The term describes the often strange arrangements of popular music that you’d once hear in dentist offices, supermarkets, and elevators. But, did you know that Muzak Inc. was actually a thriving business? And, did you know that it first began producing music for retail outlets way back in 1934? And, it is still here, but it has a better name.

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This post has been updated in August 2021.

Behind the Muzak

In 1934, Muzak Inc. was selling an audio service to households in Cleveland. A whopping three channels for $1.50 per month. Luckily, the brains behind the Muzak realized that the service they were offering wouldn’t compete with commercial radio. So, they quickly redirected their marketing efforts to hotels and restaurants before the end of that year.

Then, two years later, bolstered by several psychological studies about the effect of music on workers, they began selling their canned music product as a means to increase productivity in the workplace. The trend caught on so quickly that by the 1950s, Muzak began performing studies of their own. As a result, their engineers created “Stimulus Progression.”

According to the company (1974), “Using music as raw material, MUZAK specializes in psychological and physiological applications of music for non-entertainment functions. By its very nature, entertainment music requires active listening and intelligent involvement. MUZAK is different; being specifically designed to function on a secondary level, it is heard but not listened to.”

The Muzak studies maintained that productivity and concentration increased by raising the music’s intensity in 15-minute cycles. Furthermore, productivity improved when escalations occurred in the late morning and mid-afternoon. Naturally, the times when people have a tendency to slow down.

Scientifically designed and programmed mood-controlling music” just sounds weird and creepy, right? But, apparently, there is something to it, and it hasn’t gone away although it has changed a bit.


Mood Media Brings Us Pandora for Business

In 2011, Mood Media, a firm with a seemingly less obeah-like approach to music in retail and the workplace, purchased Muzak Inc. Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach, Mood offers clients a free audio identity profile. This bespoke profile, created by professional music designers, will become the sound of the brand.

Brands today are well-aware of the deep connections that people have with music. Audio branding is more critical today than it has ever been. Furthermore, unlike in the days of Muzak, Mood Media and Pandora for business encourage consumer’s “active listening and intelligent involvement.” The music of your brand shouldn’t be just background noise, but rather a dynamic component of your message and identity.

Why Can’t I Use My Personal Pandora?

“Mood Media is the world’s leading in-store media solutions company dedicated to elevating the Customer Experience and Pandora internet radio brings people music they love anytime, anywhere.” So, you may be wondering why you can’t just queue up your personal Pandora into your store or business. There are a few reasons.

Reasons of Legality

The number one reason is that there are lawyers. As with many things encountered in business, pages of legalese, specific to the licensing of music, exist. Pandora’s licensing agreements prevent the use of their consumer version for use in a retail or business setting.

Pandora’s partnership with Mood Media ensures that its use is adequately licensed. Although, restrictions apply to businesses with “bowling, skating, choreographed or organized dancing (such as dancing in dance studios, ballrooms or discotheques), instructed health club classes, and aerobic or other similar forms of entertainment or physical activity or where an admission is charged.” Basically, if no one moves to the music, no problem. Lawyers.

Getting the proper licensing to play music in your business is a legal and financial hassle that you don’t need. That is where Pandora for Business powered by Mood Media comes in to play.

The following are the required licensing covered by Mood Media for your Pandora for business:

  • Master Rights – A master license is a permission granted to a user by an owner of copyrighted audio.
  • Mechanical Rights – A mechanical license is granted to a user by the owner of the composition or lyrics of a recorded song.
  • Performance Rights – The right to play a composition within a business using any medium, including mp3, CD, broadcast, satellite radio, or streaming services. The composer, lyricist, or publisher can issue these rights, although they are often administered through one of many performing rights organizations.

Reasons of Good Taste

Not everyone has the best musical taste. You probably have impeccable taste in all things, especially music. But whether your outstanding taste means that the music is appropriate for your business or brand is another question.

“Everybody thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor, but they couldn’t possibly all have good taste.” – Carrie Fisher, When Harry Met Sally, 1989

As an example, my first career was in the culinary arts. I still currently work as a private chef catering high-end dinner parties. As a test, I just put my personal Pandora on shuffle, and these were the first five songs:

  1. I’m Cryin’ – Stevie Ray Vaughan
  2. Out of Gas – Modest Mouse
  3. Rump Shaker – Wrecks-N-Effect
  4. Good Corn Liquor – The Steeldrivers
  5. Killing In The Name – Rage Against The Machine

I can’t imagine many dining scenarios where Zwiesel 1872 Air Sense stemware and Good Corn Liquor would blend. Maybe if I hosted a dinner party and invited only three specific friends, but, other than that…? At any rate, I think it is safe to assume that many of us would avoid Rump Shaker being the sound most closely associated with our brand. So, if not us picking our own music, then who?


Background Music Consultancy

Since the 1950s, when Muzak Inc. was studying the effect that music has on consumers and workers, the research has piled up. Background music is no longer in the background. It is a multi-million dollar industry aimed at creating cohesive audio identities for brands. From restaurants to resortsprofessional sports training centers to tech companies, brand audio identity, as experienced by consumers and workers, is a game-changing aspect of branding and will remain so.

According to studies, the right background music can:

  • Improve the productivity and mood of employees
  • Enhance interactions between workers and customers
  • Encourage customers to buy more
  • Ease the tension of a customer waiting in line or for service
  • Alter your brand perception

It should then go without saying, what the right music can do for your brand, the wrong music will have an equally strong negative impact. That is why streaming services like Pandora for Business is so important.

The Benefits of Pandora

You may only have one outlet that you need to furnish with music, or you may have 100. Regardless, Pandora for Business offers simple setup, ease of use, and the ability to customize the sound of your brand consistently throughout your business.

Once you have zeroed in on the sound that best represents your brand, Pandora for Business offers uninterrupted, unlimited, fully-licensed, and affordable music without audio ads for your customers and employees. Moreover, your partnership with Pandora doesn’t have to stop there.

Pandora for Brands

Pandora for Brands is the company’s marketing and advertising realm. To reach your audience today it is imperative that you engage with online streaming services. Through Pandora, you will have access to 120 million monthly listeners and 2000 unique audience segments. Furthermore, only one audio ad is served up at a time to Pandora listeners, so you aren’t competing for attention.

However, branded targeting is where Pandora can really make a difference for your brand. Using first, second, and third-party data, your audience will be customized with the following criteria:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Genre and artist favorites
  • Geolocation
  • Time of listening
  • Multitasks while listening
  • Language preferences
  • Engagement
  • Devices
  • Frequency
  • Platforms
  • Carriers

The advertising experts at Pandora appreciate that we are living a multi-media experience. Audio ads created for Pandora for Brands deliver a visual component when listeners are engaging on the web, mobile, and tablets. Additionally, the company offers interactive sponsored listening, platform-specific video, sequential storytelling audio ads, and several other options to help you reach your audience, in the right place, at the right time.

Whether you are researching streaming services to enhance the atmosphere of your business, build a sound for your brand, or reach your audience with audio ads, Pandora for Business and Pandora for Brands has the resources that you need.


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