Muzak’s Physical Archives

Archive AlbumsSo where are these archives and what’s in them?  Gee Bruce, I’m glad you asked.

I first became acquainted with our music archives in the late ‘90s.  It was brought to my attention that we had lots of Muzak produced master recordings from 1934 thru the ‘80s.  The only written information we were aware of at that time about these archives was a spreadsheet with vague descriptions for each of the over 2,000 archive boxes, and a memo from a past Muzak executive.  The spreadsheet was a listing of what was written on the outside of each box, which was vague and not very accurate.  The memo, written by Rod Baum, Muzak’s VP of Programming in the mid-1980s, was a short summary that captured what these archives were, how they were organized and generally what they contained.  It’s a four page memo that became our passage into understanding these historic archives.

So we had a list of the boxes and an explanation of what was in them, but no real specifics.  To add to the mystery, these archives have been moved over 7 times since Rod had written his memo: from New York where they originated, to several locations around Seattle, then 3 places in Charlotte, where they now rest.  Two years ago, during our 75th anniversary celebration, we spent over 3 months re-boxing more than half of these archives, which gave us greater exposure to the content.

So, here’s what we found.  We have nearly 2,000 master recordings on 12” discs, from 1934 to 1937. We have approximately 8,000 master recordings on 16” discs from 1934 to 1958.  Then from the mid 1950s to the late 1980s we have over 10,000 master recordings on ¼”, ½” and 1” tape.  We also have thousands of compilation discs we manufactured for our Muzak franchises and radio customers.  Forty pallets of American pop culture, most of which have been untouched for over 60 years.  To date, we have only digitized 500 tracks, leaving over 19,500 to go.

We are working on some exciting partnerships to speed up our digitizing process – you’ll have to stick around for more details on that!  The steps to bring these historic master recordings back to life demand expertise and time, but we can finally say that at long last, we are moving forward with unveiling these musical treasures.

This is heaven for a music buff like me. I love my job!

Contributed by Bruce McKagan

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Mixx
  • email
  • LinkedIn
  • PDF
  • RSS
  • Technorati
Tagged as: Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives, Old Music


  1. What a fascinating project! When can we hear more of this great musical history?

    I love the site, but it would be really great to be able to purchase some of the tunes highlighted here in their entirety – will this be a possibility soon?

    Thanks for the blog, keep up the good work!

  2. What a great blog and a great project!

    When can we hear some of the digitized music? Will the old recordings be available for purchase??

  3. Thanks Amanda! The 75th Website and this blog are the result of a tremendous amount of work by many passionate Muzak employees and we are really proud of both projects. Keep watching the blog, there are some great Archive stories in the works that will feature audible treats that I think you will appreciate!

    We are still working on plans for the future of the archives, so we’ll keep that trick hidden for now. We appreciate your enthusiasm though!

Leave a Response