• The Elves Are Busy

    holiday imageSomething that I learned my very first year at Muzak is that the Christmas holiday season doesn’t just happen.  In fact for several years, beginning in about August my alert on my computer was changed to a snippet of “Making Christmas” from the soundtrack of “Nightmare Before Christmas.”

    Each year since, I have become more entwined in the season that often begins in early summer.  Here at Muzak the product, marketing, architecture, and delivery teams have been working together for months and are putting finishing touches on much of what our clients and prospects will see as they begin preparations for their biggest sales season of the year.  Our Audio Architects are building 24 different options for our clients who want to add a little festivity to their stores and offices.

    According to Entertainment Media Research Ltd, “for 85% of people Christmas without Christmas music wouldn’t be as good” and “hearing Christmas songs they like when shopping gets them in a festive spirit and what ’s more nearly 1 in 4 reckon they’re more generous buying presents if Christmas music they like is being played.”  Considering retailers generally see 25-40% of their sales in November and December, Christmas music can make a pretty big difference, not to mention what digital signage and scent can do.

    So while much of America get their kids back to school and look forward to football games and bonfires, we are putting the finishing touches on preparations to handle the rollout of our (and our client’s) busiest time of year.  And the question that always comes up – yes, I do still love Christmas music and the whole holiday season and look forward to it every year!

    To find out more about what Muzak is offering for holiday this year, visit our holiday landing page.

    Sources:

    National Retail Foundation

    MusicWorksforYou.com

  • Getting the Most from Digital Signs

    DS HeroIn the digital world the “one size fits all” concept is simply wrong. When you have a digital network, you simply don’t do a country-wide promotion like you might in a catalog (where all of the “best” items typically have the best placement because you know for sure they will sell well). What we found to be productive was to run specific local promotions with our first-tier items, mixed in with promotions for some of our lesser-selling items (which tended to have a lot of excess inventory). Even better was when we would change our promotions on specific days, weeks or months based on past data about the kinds of shoppers who would be in our stores at the time. For example, the people buying a high-end beauty product around the holidays may have been doing so for a gift, whereas those that bought the same product mid-year were more likely buying it for themselves.

    Another benefit of digital signage is the speed it brings to your internal workflow and distribution. When you only have traditional signage to promote your products, the workflow of that system is really slow. In your best scenario, your September catalog has to be at the printers by July to allow enough time to print and deliver it. This means your promotions for September have to be designed and defined somewhere around May. Where is the “opportunity” there? With a digital network you can build your promotions for September even one week or one day before the month starts. Imagine you have a beautiful raincoat in your September catalog, but this year turns out to be particularly warm and dry. Your printed catalog’s advertisement is worthless. With digital ads, on the other hand, you can continue to promote summer clothing until the first drop of rain appears (whenever that happens). Just like the guys in New York City that pop up out of nowhere with umbrellas when it starts to rain, digital signage has the ability to be on time with the right message when needed — and advertisers are willing to pay some premium for that advantage.

    Excerpted from an article on www.Wirespring.com

    To learn more about how digital signage can help your business or how Muzak can help you turn agility into one of your brand’s strengths visit www.muzak.com/enhanceyourbrand and sign up for our free upcoming webinar.

  • I Know Her!

    gas station

    A post on Vox Daily reminded me of a vacation nine years ago. We were driving from Charlotte to the Florida Panhandle. It was late at night and we were in unfamiliar territory in rural Alabama. We pulled off for gas and caffeine to get us through the final leg of the trip. I was filling up the car when a voice came on overhead through the speakers, inviting us inside to purchase tasty snacks and refreshing beverages from the convenience store. The voice was unmistakably familiar…so familiar in fact, it was the last voice we had heard before we left Charlotte. It was our friend Becky Hoech, former Muzak voice talent, and dog sitter extraordinaire.  The last stop as we were leaving town was to drop our dogs off at Becky’s. I wanted to wave my hands and shout, “I know her! And she has my kids too!” What a reassuring feeling it was to hear Becky’s friendly, confident voice in that remote, alien place. I went inside, grabbed a little sustenance and thanked them for being a Muzak Voice client. Still today, I always listen to overhead messaging at convenience and retail stores for a familiar voice. When I hear one, it’s everything I can do not to turn to the people nearby, point up at the speakers and say, “I know that guy!”

    Contributed by Adrianne “Ace” Pryor, Product Line Manager, Voice

  • Fats Waller’s Muzak Session 1935

    HearMeIt has been amazing to experience the music and the stories behind it as we have researched the archives, but we haven’t had a lot of opportunities to really step inside the studio.  One of the researchers stumbled upon this account of an actual day of recording in the Muzak Studios.

    Book: “Hear Me Talkin’ to Ya: The Story of Jazz As Told by the Men Who Made It”
    Authors: Nat Shapiro and Nat Hentoff
    Excerpt (pages 261 thru 262)
    W.T. Ed Kirkeby (Fats Waller manager)

    I had booked a date with Muzak to do some transcriptions with Fats and his Rhythm.  As we had three shows daily at the Lowe’s State Theatre, we had to sandwich this recording session in between our stage work.  The recording studio was just across the street from the stage entrance, so it was no job to get there.  Fats and I had quite a hassle with the stagehands’ union which was insisting on putting on an extra electrician at Fats’ expense.  One hundred bucks a week just to plug in a line for his Hammond organ.  “Take yo hand outa ma pocket,” Fats had screamed, and was glad to get away from the scene of the holdup.

    Once in the Muzak studio we lost no time.  The first show at the theatre had keyed up the boys, and with a fine Steinway piano and an excellent “studio sound” Fats looked forward to having himself a ball.  Everyone was keyed up and in the proper frame of mind for musical stimulation – and the panic was soon on.  The boys played like there was no tomorrow.  They knew all the tunes and the masters piled up at a truly amazing rate.  With the next show ahead Fats had to keep a terrific pace, but with all the drive there was always that feeling of relaxation, of Fats having fun.  He would chuckle and grin, raise his eyebrows in glee, and when Gene Sedric would come up for a solo Fats’ booming voice would urge him to greater efforts with, “Get on yo feet, Baby Bear, and earn yo salary.”  Or to Slick Jones who would be frantically chewing a wad of gum, “Gimme some skin, man gimme some skin.”  And as the pace became more torrid and the joint really began to rock, Fats would scream to Bugs Hamilton, “Ah send me, send me….SEND ME…..YEAH!”  And Buggsy’s trumpet would soar to the clouds and do fine things under the spell of the Waller drive.  Yes, it was happy music and it made for a joyous day not only for those who made the music, but for us in the control room who were lucky enough to be in on the (Muzak) session.

    The date was over for Fats and his Rhythm with a grand total of twelve sides recorded.  “On stage” at the theatre was only ten minutes away and the boys disappeared fast.  Fats got away with “I’ll see you later”, for he was to return after the second show for a session of piano solos.  And later that afternoon he did just that.  Four more solo records seemed like play, and that powerful left hand was a one-man rhythm section.  No one could doubt after that second record session, in addition to his three shows at the theatre on the same day, that the tremendous drive and vitality that characterized Fats’ work was really without equal anywhere.

    This session was held at Muzak on March 11, 1935.  Here’s a taste of that incredible recording…

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

  • What Will You Say When Everyone’s Listening?

    voice mic smEver struck silent when you’re put in the spotlight?  The mic is on and suddenly,  “Aaaahhhhh . . . ummmmmm . . . hehehe.”

    Yeah, that never happens to us.  At least, not in the messaging world!  We always have something to say and THAT is good for your business!

    So, why don’t we help you start a conversation with your clients?  Send us a couple of your, “Huh, I didn’t know you did that!” products or services and we’ll whip up a sparkly new ad or two that reminds people to ask you about your personalized, light-up disco balls!

    You see, when you use your client’s time to let them know about your unique products and services, THEY will start conversations with YOU . . .  no “ums” about it!  This helps you build a relationship that will lead to referrals and valuable sales.

    Spotlight’s on you!  What would you like your customers to ask about today?

    Contributed by Brandy Hammond, Sr. Voice Architect

  • Ready to Rock Your World!

    Guitar WallWhat do “Weird Al” Yankovic, Bill Szymczyk, Little Steven, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Tom Petty, execs from Rack Room Shoes, Lowes, Burger King, Belk, Chick-fil-A, Sephora, and Duff McKagan all have in common?  They are all friends of Muzak… and we have their autographs to prove it!

    Hundreds of personalities from business and music have walked the streets of our Home Office and been greeted by the cheers of our employees at City Center.  Because we’ve had so many celebrities and business partners visit us over the last 10 years, we’ve begun a tradition here at Muzak.  We ask each guest to sign one of our special electric guitars.  At last count we’ve amassed a collection of 15 guitars, each packed with autographs and proudly displayed in our Café.   It’s become a must see at our Muzak Home Office.

    So, if you’re a business looking to enhance the sensory experience of your brand, and you’re visiting or live in the Charlotte area,  come on down to Fort Mill where the North American headquarters of Muzak and Mood Media is located.

    Our “Guitar Wall” will impress you… and our Home Office and employees will rock your world!

  • Commercial Television – Eliminating ‘Channel Waste’

    Remote

    Dish Network’s recently released commercial television programming options make them the first pay-TV providers to eliminate offering unwanted or unwatched channels. These offerings are being seen as a first step to a more ‘a la carte’ model. Subscribers can choose from very small programming packages thus saving them money. They are simply no longer paying for channels that they would never watch.

    This is an exciting approach that will probably be emulated by other pay-TV providers. As a Dish Network retailer Muzak has been very pleased with having the ability to offer our clients and prospects the best value in the marketplace today. It has been especially effective in reducing costs in the Private sector, such as retail, financial and general offices. In these environments they typically only watch a handful of channels at most. So to be able to offer a client all of their local channels and a single inexpensive add-on package has been a very welcomed change.

    Contributed by Paul Bechtold, Partnership Manager

  • Live in the Muzak Studios

    Glen Gray Album

    One of the most engaging facts about our Muzak archive recordings, especially from the ‘30s and ‘40s, is that they sound LIVE.  That’s because they practically were.  Executive producer Ben Selvin would book many artists and orchestras while they were on tour in New York.  They’d come into the Muzak studio and simply play their live sets.  In a matter of just a few hours these bands would knock out 12 to 15 songs, most in only one take.

    When listening to a recently digitized session by Glen Gray and his Orchestra, recorded at Muzak’s Manhattan studio on February 5, 1936, it was as if I was listening to them playing live at the Casa Loma just down the street.  One of the musicians steps up to the mic as the band plays along.

    So grab the closest seat to the stage you can find, order your favorite beverage and listen to a fun performance by Korry Scott on vocals with Glen Gray and his Orchestra.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

  • Andy Zipf Performs New Release at Muzak

    Newest Album Jealous Hands

    Over the last 5 years singer/songwriter Andy Zipf has graced the halls of Muzak on several occasions with his heartfelt lyrics and melodies that just seem to transcend notes.  This week Andy made another highly anticipated appearance to personally introduce his latest release, ‘Jealous Hands.’  The August leg of his current tour brought him to Charlotte, so an afternoon visit to Muzak was a must.

    “Muzak has a great community of people who support the arts and the artists… plus their job helps people discover music.  How cool is that,” Andy comments. “Through the years I’ve been asked by Muzak to collaborate on several projects, thanks in large part to Shawn Moseley (Muzak’s Industry Relations Manager).  It started with a performance at Muzak’s Home Office back in 2006, then an appearance at SXSW, a track on a compilation disc, several Muzak client performances and now the opportunity to introduce my new album to their employees and Audio Architects.  Shawn and Muzak just seem to keep finding creative ways to showcase my music.”

    Andy’s new release, ‘Jealous Minds’ is the most soft-spoken release of the performing singer/songwriter’s career; an Americana record true and pure that stands free of the genre connotations that such a word brings. This is over a year of Zipf’s life captured, from the non-stop life on the road to what ends up coming home, “Jealous Hands” is his story and his soundtrack.

    “I don’t think I’ve ever done anything this personal before,” said Zipf, as ‘Jealous Hands’ is far more than just another record.  It’s an album of breaking safety. Where Zipf once interjected himself into songs at small moments as a visiting guest, he’s now made himself the main character, and his life the setting.

    Once again Muzak thanks Andy Zipf for sharing his music with us.  View the latest Muzak performance  live HERE on our YouTube Site.  For a free download of his new release ‘Jealous Hands’, simply go to www.andyzipf.com.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communications

  • Are You Inviting a Licensing Nightmare?

    MP3 Player

    With every kind of media imaginable available at our fingertips 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we have the ability to create personal and public playlists through our computers and smart phones.  And, let’s face it – that mix you made for your restaurant’s happy hour is pretty good.  You also love listening to Pandora.  Hey, all you have to do is type in your favorite artist and, BAM, quick and easy playlist for your listening enjoyment (in the comfort of your own home that is). However, when you plug your iPod into the company’s speaker system, you are putting yourself out there for more than getting compliments on your set list. There are real legal ramifications for playing original artists’ music in a public space! You will have ASCAP, BMI and SESAC knocking on your restaurant door, asking for some pretty hefty fees – and rightfully so! If you were a musician, wouldn’t you want to get paid? Thought so – especially due to that slammin’ playlist you just created.

    Since the liabilities are high, why not obtain playlists legally – from Muzak? We have a team of dedicated programmers who create premium, customizable and full-custom programs (or playlists, however you want to look at it) for small business owners just like you.  When is the last time you walked into a store or restaurant and heard complete silence?  Think about it again. There’s more value in music than just creating some white noise.  It’s an experience.  And when it’s legal, it can really be enjoyable!  Leave the heavy lifting to us as far as business music is concerned so you can focus on … well … your business.

    Contributed by Ashley Columbus Audio Architecture Music Consultant

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