We all know how it feels to make a phone call and having to be put on hold while listening to some annoying music. In this article, we’ll briefly focus on the music you hear while on hold, which is commonly referred to as on-hold music.

What is Music On Hold?

Most of the tracks selected for on hold music are often generic and not very pleasant to listen to. Back in the day, not much attention was paid to the quality of on-hold music. Most people simply figured that whoever listens to it doesn’t need to like it, just to understand that it’s meant to indicate one thing: don’t hang up.

Silence usually indicates that a phone call is disconnected or that the line is dead. This is what callers may think if they hear silence even during ongoing calls. Phone companies eventually recognized the need to play something called a ‘comfort tone’ over phone lines. This music regularly consists of generic monotone music to let you know that the connection is still there.

On-hold music emerged in the early 1960s, a few years after the first transatlantic phone cable was laid between Newfoundland and Scotland. Since a greater volume of calls were being placed, especially to big businesses, the switchboard operators often had to tell callers to “please hold” before their call was directed to the right person. Legend has it that Alfred Levy, a factory owner, discovered the potential of hold music accidentally when an exposed wire in his telephone system was picking up a radio broadcast from a radio next door. Pretty convenient, huh?

Levy said, after he submitted a patent in 1966 for a Telephone Hold Program System which described, in-depth, the psychological frustrations of being on hold. “Courteous telephone practice requires that a caller on-hold be assured at reasonable intervals that the party to whom he wishes to speak is still busy. However, the pressure of busy switchboard duties may prevent the operator from informing the incoming caller so that he may feel at ease” Levy wrote. “In any event, listening to a completely unresponsive instrument is tedious and calls often are abandoned altogether or remade, which leads to annoyance and a waste of time and money.”

So, Levy recommended the use of playback music, much like the kind that was increasingly broadcast to restaurants and bars and department stores by Muzak (a brand of background music played in retail stores and other public establishments in the mid 20th century).

Hold Music for Businesses

Since then, on hold music has been widely used by all businesses. Some businesses with call centers will absolutely need tracks for hold music, but any business that takes calls from clients should consider adding on-hold music. This way, it’ll improve the brand identity overall, but also it’ll reduce churn and allow customer retention. It’s also a way to let the caller know that you are there and that you are not going anywhere. Your customers should know that they will be answered as soon as possible.

Of course, most people don’t like going on hold and expect an immediate connection. With music on hold, you’ll also distract your callers. Apart from that, music on hold influences the mood of your customers. We know that music helps us, in general. And when it comes to on hold music, the track you choose it will help your customer as well.

Royalty Free On Hold Music

Today, the easiest way to find on hold music for a business is to look for it online, and at HookSounds we got you covered. We create tracks that clients and other listeners will definitely enjoy, no matter what the circumstances are. Go ahead and give the tracks a listen, then it’s up to you to decide whether to join the HookSounds community. We can assure you that you won’t regret the experience. 


How to Add On Hold Music to a Landline

This will depend on your phone system. Analog phones usually can’t play on-hold music without the help of an external device. These type of phones use a direct connection to the telephone line outside the building. This is called an “outside line”, “analog line”, or “POTS line” (Plain Old Telephone Service). This would be a residence-type phone line. In this case, you can use an on hold adapter, which will detect when a call is in the “hold state” letting this way audio play.

Then, we have PBX phone systems which are pre-wired to play music on hold. Here, you’ll have to look for an input jack (might be labeled MOH). Try to plug a music source, such as a CD player, into this jack temporarily. Some inputs might need to be programmed by the installer.

How to Set On Hold Music on an iPhone

If you have an iPhone, it’s really easy to set on hold music. You’ll have to go to your Settings, then Phone and go to Call Waiting. There, toggle the switch next to the ‘Play Music‘ button, and you can select a song from your music library to play when the phone is on hold. You can also download an app to add this feature to your phone.

How to Set On Hold Music on an Android

To add on hold music to your Android phone, you’ll go to “Settings” and select “Music.” There, you can select the type of music you want to play when you have to take a break or end a call. You can also download an app to add this feature to your phone.