Muzak

Written by Stacy Chbosky
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The history of Muzak begins in the 1920s, when General George Squier invented and patented music transmission for background usage. The music was transmitted from phonographs to public spaces, like elevators or reception areas, via electrical lines. The name Muzak comes from an amalgamation of "music" and "Kodak," a company Squier greatly admired.

Muzak Becomes Big Business

Background music proved to be extremely popular. General Squier's Muzak was a great success, and the company was bought by Warner in 1938. However, Warner didn't hold on to the company for very long. They sold the company to William Benton in 1939. Benton was not only the publisher of Encyclopedia Britannica, but a powerful politician, to boot.

These days, "muzak" is sometimes used as a derisive term for watered-down, overly-sentimental music. People have a more cynical opinion of "elevator music" than they did in the 1920s. It is no longer deemed a technological wonder, but is more often viewed as a corny type of white noise.

Of course, there's still a need for music in public spaces and for use in telephone hold systems. Many people turn to royalty free music to fill these needs. Royalty free music, also known as buyout music, is really the only cost-effective means of playing music in public spaces. As law suits against music piracy increase, so will the need for royalty free music.


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