The hills are alive with the sound of Muzak. Once the king of canned music, the company has been busy working to transform its image. Muzak, famous for its instrumental versions of pop tunes, has turned its focus away from the elevator rider and toward the consumer as it pumps original songs (with lyrics) into retail stores, restaurants, and bars, as well as hotels, offices, and factories. Its music is heard by some 100 million people daily. The company additionally provides music and marketing for telephone on-hold and in-store messaging. Founded in 1934, Muzak emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was acquired by in-store media specialist Mood Media Corporation in May 2011.
Mood Media acquired Muzak for $345 million. It will combine Muzak's sound system and musical capabilities with its own in-store media operations (which uses a mix of music, visual, and scent media) to cater to more than 470,000 commercial locations in almost 40 countries.
Muzak filed for Chapter 11 in 2009 so that it could restructure its heavy debt load. It had been struggling for several years to turn a profit and faces stiff competition from new entrants into the market, including satellite radio provider SIRIUS XM Radio. After completing a financial restructuring in 2010, the company improved its balance sheet, reducing its outstanding debt by more than half. Late that year, it hired Steven Richards, the former top executive of outsourced customer services provider PRC, LLC, as its newest CEO.
Before it was acquired by Mood Media, Muzak was focused on rolling out new products and entering partnerships. In 2009 it launched Visual Solutions, a comprehensive digital signage product line. Also that year it announced a licensing partnership with RightsFlow, a provider of bulk licensing and royalty solutions for music services.