Muzak Holdings LLC is a company based in metro Fort Mill, South Carolina, United States, just outside of Charlotte, North Carolina. Founded in 1934, Muzak Holdings is best known for distribution of background music to retail stores and other companies.
Muzak is a registered trademark of Muzak LLC.
The original technical basis for Muzak was developed by inventor Major General George O. Squier who, in the early 1920s, was granted several US patents related to transmission of information signals, among them a system for the transmission and distribution of signals over electrical lines.
Squier recognized the potential for this technology to be used to deliver music to listeners without the use of radio, which at the time was in a nascent state and required fussy and expensive equipment.
The rights to Squier s patents were acquired by the North American Company utility conglomerate, which created a company named Wired Radio Inc. with the intent to use the technique to deliver music subscriptions to private customers of the utility company's power service.
Squier remained involved in the project and was reportedly intrigued by the made-up word Kodak being used as a trademark and so took the "mus" syllable from "music" and added the "ak" from "Kodak" to create his word Muzak.
By the time a workable Muzak system was fully developed, commercial radio had become well established, and so the company re-focused its efforts on using the technology to deliver music to hotels and restaurants. The first actual delivery of Muzak to commercial customers took place in New York City in 1936. At this time, the technology involved remained crude as the music originated from record players manually operated at a central office location; economy of scale dictated that the more businesses subscribed to the service, the lower the overall cost became. The company aggressively pursued expanding the use of the music service to workplaces, citing research that indicated that background music improved productivity among workers.
In 1937, the Muzak division was purchased from the North American Company by Warner Brothers, which expanded it into other cities. Shortly thereafter it was bought by entrepreneur William Benton. World War II saw a further increase in the popularity of Muzak, as factories pushed for ever-greater production supporting the war effort.
The company began customizing the pace and style of the music provided throughout the workday in an effort to maintain productivity (a technique it called "stimulus progression"). It began recommending music at different tempos, and discovered alternating blocks of music with periods of silence increased the effectiveness of the product.
While Muzak had initially produced tens of thousands of original artist recordings by the top performers of the 1930s and 1940s, their new strategy required a different sound. The style of music used was deliberately bland so as not to intrude on foreground tasks, and adhered to precise limitations in tempo and dynamics. This style of music blended into the background as intended in most situations, but was sometimes noticeable (particularly in quiet spaces such as elevators). Thus the word Muzak began to be used as a synonym for this type of elevator music .
A growing awareness among the public that Muzak was targeted to manipulate behavior resulted in a backlash, including accusations of being a brainwashing technique and court challenges in the 1950s. However, the popularity of Muzak remained high. President Dwight D. Eisenhower was the first to pump Muzak into the West Wing. NASA used Muzak in many of its space missions to soothe astronauts and occupy periods of inactivity.
Over the next two decades the basic programming approach remained unchanged while the technology used moved forward: tape recordings replaced records; the transmission system changed from power lines to telephone lines and eventually subcarriers on commercial FM stations, and finally satellite. During this time Muzak became a franchise operation, with local offices purchasing rights to the music, delivery technology, and brand name for their geographic areas. The company changed hands several times, becoming a division of the Field Corporation in the mid-1980s.
Through the 1980s and 1990s, Muzak moved away from the elevator music approach, and instead began to offer multiple specialized channels of popular music. Muzak pioneered "audio architecture", a process of designing custom music playlists for specific clients.
Even with the changes in format, rocker Ted Nugent used Muzak as an icon of everything "uncool" about music. In 1989, he publicly made a $10 million bid to purchase the company with the stated intent of shutting it down. His bid was refused, but served as a name-branding publicity stunt for both parties.
By the late 1990s the Muzak corporation rebranded itself; as of 2010, Muzak distributes nearly 3 million commercially available original artist songs. Today, Muzak offers almost 100 channels of music via satellite or IP delivery, in addition to completely custom music programs tailored to their clients' needs.
According to EchoStar, Muzak's distribution provider, Muzak's business music service is broadcast on rented bandwidth from Echostar VII, in geostationary orbit at 119 degrees west longitude.
On 12 April 2007, Muzak Holdings, LLC announced to its employees that it might merge with DMX Music. This merger was approved by the Department of Justice one year later. As of April 2009, it appeared the deal was off, but it's possible the two parties would try again.
On 23 January 2009, a spokesperson said Muzak was attempting to restructure its debt and filing for bankruptcy was one of several options. The company had plenty of cash but large amounts of debt coming due in the midst of a difficult economic climate.
On 10 February 2009, Muzak Holdings LLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Kirkland & Ellis was hired as the company s bankruptcy law firm. Moelis & Company served as the financial adviser.
On September 10, 2009, Muzak said it had filed a reorganization plan which would cut the company's debt by more than fifty percent. The plan would pay all banks everything they were owed in some form, and would give high-ranking unsecured creditors ownership in the reorganized company. Other creditors would receive warrants to buy stock. The company said an "overwhelming majority" of unsecured creditors supported the plan.
On January 12, 2010, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court approved the plan to reduce Muzak's debt by more than half, allowing Muzak to officially emerge from bankruptcy.
After emerging from bankruptcy, Muzak moved to restructure more than just their balance sheets. The company announced a new initiative to realign their corporate structure into three specialized business units: Muzak Media, Touch, a Muzak Co., and Muzak Systems. Respectively, these units will focus on content acquisition, Sensory Branding and new delivery platform technology.
Mood Media has agreed to purchase Muzak Holdings for $345 million, including $305 million in cash.
List of channels
Electronic program guide identifier
||La M sica
Easy Listening Instrumental (the "traditional" Muzak format)
FM1 [Foreground Music One]
||Light Pop Standards
||New Age Instrumental
||The Party Playlist
||Piano & Guitar
||Classic and Modern Pop Hits
||'50s & '60s Hits
||Laid-back Beach Party
||Country Music One
||High Energy Fitness
||Special purpose audio channel; generally used for holiday programming
|Stereo Programmes (DiSH CD)
||Special purpose channel used for Christmas programming and possibly others; mirrored on #982 in December
||Adult Contemporary Pop
||Current Country Hits
||Rock 'n Roll Classics
||Early Classic Rock
||Retro Cocktail Music
||Big Band Swing
||Mirror of #949 "Muzak 2" in December
Electronic program guide identifier
As a general rule, only the streams identified with "AUDxx" or "CD xx" are available to home DiSH Network users (with the exception of HLIDY.) The others may show up in the EPG lists of some older receivers, but the programming heard is that of the next channel up.
On DiSH Network, BYU Radio shows up within the Muzak channel group at #980 and carries an EPG call of "CD 30". However, this stream is originated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and carried as part of Echostar's "DiSH CD" service; it is not actuallly a Muzak-originated stream.
Channels available on Muzak via Satellite, On-Premise or through Echostar/DishNetwork platform as of January 2011:
Body And Soul
Aura (New Age)
Breathe (World Eclectic)
The Light (Contemporary Christian)
Ambrosia (Soft Pop/Rock)
Cashmere (Adult Contemporary)
Expressions (Light Pop Standards)
Funkytown (Funk/Soul/Disco) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Jukebox Gold (Rock 'n Roll Classics)
Love Songs (Romantic Melodies)
Mo' Soul (Classic Soul)
Swing Kings (Big Band/Swing)
Unforgettable (Adult Favorites)
Country Gold (Country Classics)
Country Music One (Country Mix)
Nashville USA (Current Country Hits)
Screen Door (Alternative Country)
- '50s & '60s Hits
- '70s Hits
- '80s Hits
- '90s Hits
7890 (Classic and Modern Pop Hits)
Groove Zone (Current Dance) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Metro (Indie Electronica)
NuJazz (Acid Jazz)
Strobe (Electro Pop)
Holiday [Only available during specific holiday]
- Christmas (3)
- Cinco De Mayo
- Independence Day
- Mardi Gras
- St. Patrick's Day
- Summer Fun
- Valentine's Day
Easy Instrumentals (Classic Instrumental)
Ensemble (Classical Ambiance)
Environmental (Easy Listening Instrumental) **The "classic" Muzak service, available only to commercial customers**
Intermezzo (Light Classical)
Moodscapes (New Age Instrumental)
Piano & Guitar (Acoustic Instrumental)
Plaza (Contemporary Instrumental)
Uptown (Instrumental Jazz)
City Lights (Smooth Jazz)
Impressions (Contemporary Jazz)
Jazz Traditions (Classic Jazz)
Caliente Pop (Upbeat Latino/Anglo Pop) **Available only in Satellite line-up**
Estilos (Smooth Latin Music)
Fiesta Mexicana (Mexican Music)
FM Dos (Latino/Anglo Pop)
La Frontera (Tejano/Border) **Available only in Echostar line-up**
La Musica (Latin Pop)
Mexicana (Traditional Mexican Music)
Salsa Ritmo (Salsa)
Viva Mariachi (Mariachi)
FM1 (Classic Pop)
Hitline (Current Pop)
Hot FM (Pop Hits)
Peppermint (Youth-Friendly Pop)
Poppers (Teen Pop) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Shine (Adult Contemporary Pop)
The Party Playlist (Party Anthems)
Venus (Female Pop) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Backpages (Adult Alternative)
Feedback (Modern/Alternative Rock)
Half Pipe (Skate Punk/Hip-Hop) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Ink'd (Power Rock/Metal) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Perimeter (New Indie Rock)
Rock Show (Early Classic Rock)
Stylus (Underground Rock/Pop)
Varsity (Later Classic Rock)
Acoustic Crossroads (Contemporary Folk)
Roadhouse (Americana/Classic Rock)
Route 66 (American Roots) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Gumbo (New Orleans Music) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
KidTunes (Children's Music)
Martini Time (Retro Cocktail Music)
Oasis (Tropical Pop/Rock)
Pariotic Instrumentals (Patriotic Musc) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
The Beach (Laid-back Beach Party)
The Circuit (High Energy Fitness)
Toned (High Energy Fitness)
Tropical Breezes (Caribbean Music)
Concrete Beats (Hip-Hop/Rap)
The Blvd. (Adult R&B)
Bellissimo (Contemporary Italian)
Destinations (Global Pop)
Hawaiian (Hawaiian Music) **Available only in On-Premise & Echostar line-ups**
Irish (Irish Traditional/Pop) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Little Italy (Italian/American Standards)
Qu b cois (French Canadian) **Available only in Satellite line-up**
World Travels (World Music) **Available only in On-Premise line-up**
Licensed for International Use
Worldscapes (Jazz/New Age)
NOTE: Not all channels are available on all platforms
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