Elevator music has been around for a long time and, surprisingly, has proved useful for many different applications. But why was elevator music created in the first place? Is elevator music still prevalent today, and what benefits does it offer? In this article, we’ll look at the history of elevator music and the surprising impact it has made.
Origins of Elevator Music
Muzak, referred to as elevator music, is an instrumental variation of music that can be found on elevators, information channels, retail stores, cruise ships, and telephone systems.
Founded by Major General George O. Squier, Muzak commenced its signature style of music beginning in the 1920s shortly after world war one. Squier’s company really took off, however, in the 1940s, when Muzak researchers discovered their music made workers more efficient and happier. After making this discovery, Squier patented the Stimulus Progression, which played Muzak every 15 minutes and gave a sense of subconscious forward movement to listeners.
Fun fact: elevator music got its name in the 1920s when skyscrapers were shooting up from the ground. People back then didn’t quite like the idea of getting in a moving metal box, so Muzak was there to keep elevator passengers tranquil as they ascended the giant buildings. Eventually, however, the term elevator music grew into a reference to any music that is deemed boring or plain, unfortunately robbing the term of its true meaning and significance. Thankfully, the benefits of elevator music have outlived its name.
Psychology of Muzak
Music similar to elevator music has been extensively shown to affect the brain of the listener in a unique variety of ways. As aforementioned, Muzak makes workers happier and more productive. In general, it’s a great mood improver, which is why it is also a great de-stressor.
This type of music has been shown to be a great psychological outlet, and can be used to help those suffering from mental illnesses to express emotion or to bring out the emotional side of a withdrawn patient. Muzak also has an effect on memory. The part of the brain that processes music sits right next to the part that processes memory. Muzak has been proven to help victims of memory loss regain memories they have lost and restore their personal history. Lastly, it is helpful to have Muzak playing in a hospital wing with many long term patients. Muzak is shown to lower heart rates, lower blood pressures, and lower anxiety. In essence, Muzak creates a calming atmosphere for patients struggling with anxiety or depression due to their illnesses.
Where is Muzak Now?
Elevator music is still around today, but is not nearly as popular as it once was. Also, in an unfortunate turn of events, Muzak declared bankruptcy in 2009. The following year, after some heavy debt paying and financial planning, Muzak pulled through its bankruptcy, and the year after, a company called Mood Media agreed to purchase Muzak’s holdings. Mood Media also decided it was time to lay to rest the name Muzak. While the name is now gone, the benefits of Muzak will continue to assist the 300,000 customers the music still serves.
Muzak Will Live On
Muzak, although gone as a company, will continue as a helpful musical product. Whether it plays while you’re on hold with your credit company, in an elevator on a tall building, or in your favorite shopping center, you can count on hearing the calming tunes of Muzak for many years to come.