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Keep Your Customers Engaged with the Right Royalty-Free Hold Music

Nobody likes being on hold — but it doesn’t have to be torture! Use the right royalty-free on-hold music to keep your callers sane and satisfied.

A person — let’s call them [YOUR NAME HERE] — has spent their life trying to live with kindness. For years, this person has been sure to say “please” and “thank you” and hold the door for strangers and give generously to charity. Every morning, this person looks in the mirror and repeats a mantra: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Now empowered and self-edified, this person heads out into the world, buys a coffee for the person in line behind them, and relishes the hard-fought peace that defines their existence.

And then they have to call the cable company.

Keep Your Customers Engaged with the Right Royalty-Free Hold Music — Anakin

Being on hold is a fact of life. If you’re hoping to keep your callers happy — and keep them as customers — you’ve got to make the on-hold experience as non-soul-sucking as possible. The right royalty-free on-hold music (like the tracks at the bottom of this post) can help.

Hold Music, Episode I: The Silent Hold

In his more-interesting-than-we-thought-it-would-be piece for Slate, “Your Call Is Important to Us,” Tom Vanderbilt shines a light on the history of being on hold. According to Vanderbilt’s research, being on hold was just a part of making a call back in the day. He cites a 1928 New York Times article:

Writing about the first transatlantic telephone call from New York to Paris, in 1928, the New York Times described the dizzy experience: ‘For those who speak for the first time there is no thrill comparable to that which comes with first signal. “Your New York call is coming through.” Hold the line. Wait a minute. That minute is a thing of very mixed emotions. One feels that something memorable should be spoken and can think of nothing to say.’

As the phone-call experience became more familiar, waiting around in silence became more frustrating. Vanderbilt hits the nail on the head when he explains, “But there was a more elemental problem with the silent hold: there was no way to know if one was still actually on the line.” Uh oh.

Hold Music, Episode II: Alfred Levy Rises

In 1962, Alfred Levy — inventor, factory owner, entrepreneur, hero — applied for a patent. Here’s what the paperwork described:

It is an object of the present invention to provide a system of the character described which upon actuation of a hold instrumentality, e.g. a key or button, will connect the incoming call to a source of program material, e.g. music, thereby to pacify the originator of the call if the delay becomes unduly long, and also to while away the idle time of the caller who is awaiting connection to a certain party or extension.

You know, hold music. According to Vanderbilt, Alfred Levy “discovered that, by dint of a loose wire touching a steel girder, his company’s telephone system was picking up broadcasts from the neighboring radio station. When callers were placed on hold, they no longer heard silence; rather . . . music. The world of “music on hold” was born.” Phew!

Hold Music, Episode III: The Power of Distraction

Simply put, on-hold music is vital. Vanderbilt says, “Hazily sourced statistics blare from the websites of hold message companies: 70 percent of callers put on silent hold will hang up within one minute!”

Also simply put, on-hold music is a vital distraction. He cites industry experts to explain how hold music keeps callers on the line:

As the Journal of Retailing put it, ‘[M]usic reduces the negative effects of waiting because it distracts attention from the passage of time, and, as a result, consumers perceive the length of the wait to be shorter than that when there is no music.’ The less you pay attention to time, the faster it seems to go. The longer one feels one has waited, the thinking further goes, the lower one’s satisfaction with the experience.

Of course, hold music isn’t the only way businesses keep you distracted and (sorta) happy. Vanderbilt explains:

Influenced by advances in other forms of queue management, hold technology has advanced. As with rides at Disney, we now expect estimated wait times (people shown a wait time are up to two times less likely to ‘balk,’ research has shown) . . . A lot of wait time is sneakily siphoned off by Interactive Voice Response systems (‘press “3” if you are a calling about an international flight.’ There are even ‘tandem queues,’ for people with multiple issues (‘I’ll have to pass you off to my supervisor . . .’).

So, yeah. Technically, everyone who keeps you on hold is manipulating you. They’re playing with your very humanity. Nonetheless, hold music helps. Just remember, when you’re picking your hold music off of the royalty-free playlist below, keep that humanity in mind. Think of the caller. Put yourself in their shoes and focus on choosing a track that you wouldn’t mind listening to for [YOUR ESTIMATED WAIT TIME IS TWENTY-THREE MINUTES].

Just do your best. The fate of the younglings is in your hands.

Hold Music, Episode IV: A New Hold Music Playlist

We curated the playlist below to solve all of your royalty-free on-hold music needs. The songs cover a wide range of genres, all of them are perfectly pleasant and chill, and each can be yours in perpetuity with a simple $49 Standard License. Should you encounter any problems, give us a call — PremiumBeat’s hold-music game is strong.


Cover image via Antonio Guillem
Header image via Carsten Reisinger
Playlist header image via lenetstan


Looking for more royalty-free music? Well, here you go!

On-Hold Music
On-Hold Music
Keep your callers happy with upbeat, calming tracks
  • Blessing
  • Flowing and dreamy, with World Gamelan elements featuring meditative ethnic percussion, strings, and ethnic flute to create a euphoric and tranquil mood.
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  • Spring Dove
  • Floating and warm, with corporate inspirational elements featuring soaring strings, pizzicato strings, and vocal oohs to create an uplifting and heartwarming mood.
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  • Firewood
  • Gentle and easy, with folk-pop elements featuring touching electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and male aahs to create a tender and calm mood.
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  • Tender Hearts
  • Bouncy and breezy, with kids / children lively elements featuring carefree strings, woodwinds, and piano to create to a sweet and delighted mood.
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  • Take a Breath
  • Light and easy, with production / film scores human drama elements featuring sweet piano and strings to create a relaxing and reflective mood.
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