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by SixFigureStart | February 11, 2009


No, it's not an announcement that a company has just created 10,000 jobs to replace the ones GM cut yesterday. In fact, in the sense of the wider economy, and the fact that yet more jobs are likely to be eliminated, it's not good news at all. Still, one can't help but find some upside in the news that Muzak Holdings has been forced to file for bankruptcy.

Again, let me make this very clear: we're not gloating about anyone losing their jobs. Most of us have been through that at some stage, and it's definitely not a nice experience. But sometime, somewhere, most of us will also have been thoroughly irritated by a particularly inane piece of elevator music, and the chances are that Muzak Holdings was the company responsible for that. Oh, and the company also produces the twin delights of hold music and reassuring comments?you know, the pre-recorded voices that regularly interrupt the pan pipe rendition of "Country Roads" to tell you again and again how much you're valued as a customer, and that you'll be with an associate as soon as one becomes available . In that sense, then, the company's demise offers the same prospect of relief as, say, finally swatting the fly that's been buzzing you for an hour.

Not that that's all that Muzak does, however?technology has changed since the days of stores throwing a tape on a continual loop, and Muzak has attempted to change with them. It now provides full audio and visual services for clients, and puts together playlists of music (with words and artists you've heard of and everything) for stores, restaurants and the like based on their specific preferences, with music deliverable in formats ranging from CDs to satellite radio.

Also, given that Muzak?s largest creditors all appear to be music companies (not to mention the likelihood of Sirius XM filing for bankruptcy soon), it seems like that industry's just had another nail hammered into its coffin as well. With that in mind, then, maybe we should be hoping that Muzak can successfully turn it around: malls are depressing enough with less folks out buying stuff. Imagine what they'd be like if they were silent. And, perhaps more pertinently, imagine a world in which people didn't bust moves in elevators; that, I'm sure we can agree, would be a terrible side-effect of the recession.

--Posted by Phil Stott, Vault Staff Writer


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