• Lots of NOISE! in Charlotte

    H&S_LogoWith the recent purchase of Muzak by Mood Media (see more in section 411), the press has been busy releasing stories about the merger, the personalities and the international impact.  The volume on the news coming out of the Mood Media/Muzak North American headquarters in Fort Mill, has been turned up.

    Another story is starting to reverberate from the Charlotte area that’s beginning to catch the ears and hearts of the community.  Muzak’s Heart & Soul Foundation was founded in 1998 as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, dedicated to supporting music education for elementary to high school students.  One of Heart & Soul’s primary educational programs is called NOISE!, which invites dozens of high school students with a talent and passion for music to a 10 day summer camp to learn all about the music industry.  All student expenses for NOISE! are covered by the Heart & Soul Foundation.  Over the past 12 years, NOISE! camp has been held in New York, LA, Atlanta and Nashville.  This year, starting July 10th, NOISE! comes to Charlotte.

    Sixteen high school students will be coming from across the US to attend NOISE! camp, based on the campus of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, just outside of Charlotte.  Music counselors, along with industry experts from across the country, will guide the students through the nuances of composing, producing, recording, marketing, booking and managing.  It’s an intense, non-stop music program that immerses these talented and musically gifted kids deeply into their passion.

    Muzak’s Director of Licensing and coordinator of NOISE! 2011 curriculum, Jason McCormick comments, “after this year’s camp each student will walk away with a clear understanding of what it takes to create, market and sell music.  NOISE! gives all 16 students  a once in a lifetime opportunity to test drive their dreams.”

    For more information about Muzak Heart & Soul go to: heart.muzak.com

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communications, Heart & Soul Foundation

  • This Place ROCKS!

    FrontDesk50I remember in 1998 the first mention that we were considering moving our Muzak headquarters from Seattle to the Charlotte area.  As a native of Seattle I was, well, just a little disheartened.  A few months later then CEO, Bill Boyd asked me to take the lead on moving the company and building the new Home Office in a town just outside of Charlotte called Fort Mill.

    The thought of moving away from family and friends was none too attractive for my wife, Beth and me.  But the prospect of helping to design and build a new Muzak home, conceived from our vision for the company’s future, was extremely appealing.

    Jim Biber, selected as architect and chief designer of our new building once commented “a work space is as much a social place as it is a functional place.  People don’t just go there to earn money; they go to an office for interaction, and for a sense of community.”

    I remember days when we studied aerial views of Italian cities for hours to research the notion that space defined within cities can create a forum of social interaction.  Reflecting on how an Italian piazza (town square) serves as a crossroads, gathering place and intimate heart of a city, we decided to configure the interior with a piazza at its center and bridges and walkways joining open areas.  Our new 100,000 sq. ft. Home Office was designed to include 25 conference rooms, 35 studios, desks on wheels and no private offices… not even for the CEO.  And music was designed to play everywhere.  Over 250 speakers were installed both inside and out to deliver the Muzak soundtrack 24/7, except in one place: the elevator.

    On October 31st, 2000, 325 employees, comprised of 100 transplants from Muzak offices in Seattle, Chicago, San Diego, San Francisco, Raleigh and Boston, and 225 new hires entered our new Home Office in Fort Mill for the first time.  I’ll never forget the looks on their faces.  They were blown away!  It was huge, open, overwhelming, like nothing they’d ever seen before.  Design awards immediately followed as hoards of media cameras began to capture our unique facility for local and national TV and print.

    Architecture CircleAfter 11 years, the dynamic and innovative design continues to make this place a destination in itself for clients and prospects.  Companies come away with a feeling that Muzak is cooler and more innovative than they ever imagined.  With a wall of guitars signed by rock musicians, senators, dignitaries and thousands of guests, our daily visitors experience first hand that this place Rocks!

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communications, Heart & Soul Foundation

  • Something’s Burning

    abstract fire on blackAfter spending the last 3 years digging into our past 77 years, I’ve discovered that as some aspects of Muzak have remained the same, many more have evolved and changed.  Through 8 decades we’ve had over 10 owners, relocated our corporate offices 8 times, 3 of them coast to coast, and have had over 25 different presidents/CEOs.  With new company goals and objectives, Muzak has flexed with the needs.  Through the depression, WWII, Watergate, Woodstock, disco and recessions, we’ve adjusted our practices to change with the times, events, people and business.

    But there’s a piece of this company of ours that just seems to live on.  It’s become part of our culture.  I call it the spirit of our people.

    Some attribute the origins of this spirit to our franchisee network, many of whom have been Muzakers for several generations: the stories they tell, the experiences they share, the expertise they worked so hard to gain, the community of family they have built.  Some say it’s the music: Muzak pioneers who helped craft the music industry since 1934, the music played each and every day in Muzak offices, the fact that we attract so many musically passionate employees – they always find wonderful ways to share their talents.  Others say it’s our spirit of giving, exemplified by Muzak’s Heart & Soul Foundation, supporting music education for kids.

    When I was asked to help build our Home Office in Fort Mill, SC back in 2000, we agreed to design it to encourage openness and communication, creativity and community.  Eleven years later it continues to foster that same spirit.  And we can’t forget the Muzak Green Team, the Shakers and the hordes of employees who always seem ready to help in any way they can to make this a better place to work.

    I once read that the easiest way to assess your company’s culture is to look around.  How do the employees act; what do they do?  Look for common behaviors and visible symbols.

    So, go ahead and look around.  What you’ll find is an undeniable spirit at the center of our Muzak culture: a spirit that has kept the fire burning for 77 years, a spirit whose embers are fueled by our Muzak family each and every day.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communications, Heart & Soul Foundation

  • It’s in the Blood

    Logo Head

    This weekend I decided to take some time to step back and think about what’s really going on inside Muzak… my home for over 15 years.

    If you’ve been following this blog, or read the parade of Muzak press releases over the last few years, you are aware that we’ve been through more changes than most companies experience in a lifetime.  Since 2008, this 77-year-old company has successfully withstood a potential merger, bankruptcy, two sales and a change at the top.  All of this while making significant strides in distribution technologies, product lines, productivity and customer service.

    So, what is it that has held us together through all this change and commotion?  Sure, some employees were not comfortable with the change, and opted to leave.  Also, several new execs, with their own unique management goals and style, created a level of insecurity for some employees, which was to be expected.  But, through it all, there continues to be something at Muzak that holds this place together.

    My dad was a fireman for 28 years.  It was who he was.  The experiences he shared with his fellow firemen created the glue that bonded him to his work.  The fire stories he’d tell at night would make me squirm, but the pride he had for his work was inspirational.  The guys meant everything to my dad.  His work and his mates were like a second family to him.

    My son lives with his family in our home town of Seattle.  Last weekend we were catching up on the phone when the topic turned to Muzak.  He started laughing when I began conversing about a project I was working on with several employees.  I had to take a step back when he said, “Dad, sometimes I can’t tell the difference between your work and you.  I guess that’s just who you are.”   It had a familiar ring to it.

    There’s something about the people, the relationships, the experiences, and the culture here at Muzak that keeps so many of us engaged.  It’s the pride for our history, our passion for music, a commitment to giving back to our communities and this crazy but wonderful business that keeps us coming back.   Several of our franchise owners have been around for two and three generations.  Twenty-five years of service by employees is a fairly common occurrence.  Last year over 250 employees celebrated 10 years or more with Muzak.  I’ve never run the numbers, but I have to believe that the average tenure of our 1,000 employees and hundreds of affiliates is a least double any similar company.  There’s a special pride in where we’ve been, who we are, and where we’re going.  For so many of us this place is simply in our blood.

    The future looks extremely bright here at Muzak.  The economy is showing clear signs of a rebound and our sales staff is loaded and running.  Our new owners, Mood Media, are excited to grow this business we love.

    Is there such a thing as blood type “M”?

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Company Communications, Heart & Soul Foundation

  • Muzak Celebrates Earth Day 2011

    Green Team

    Muzak Green Team

    Bringing humanity closer to our environment, each year Earth Day is celebrated in more than 175 countries around the world, making it the largest secular holiday on the planet. WOW! 175 out of 195 countries put a day on their calendars to celebrate the Earth. When I first read this information, thank you Wikipedia, I found that number to be staggering, but the more I thought about it the more I realized that my own surprise was a bit surprising. Why shouldn’t 175 countries celebrate the true awesomeness of our little home planet…and more importantly, why shouldn’t every country celebrate it and celebrate the idea of Earth Day, everyday?

    Some may designate those that avidly celebrate environmental causes as tree huggers or hippies, but in reality it was a United States Senator that founded the movement that is now known as Earth Day. In 1969, Gaylord Nelson, a US Senator from Wisconsin began a grassroots effort to draw attention to environmental causes after witnessing Capitol Hill’s idle response to the oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, which happened earlier that year. Through the formation of a bi-partisan non-profit, Senator Nelson and co-chairs Representative Paul McCloskey and The Conservation Foundation President Sidney Howe, formed Environmental Teach-In, Inc. Based on the successes of the Teach-In movement from the Vietnam War, Senator Nelson believed that by citing environmental causes as the purpose of Teach-Ins, they could bridge the gap between Congress and the general public. In the fall of 1969 and the early part of 1970, an immense amount of media and public interest was garnered and by April 22nd of that year, the first Earth Day was born. The history of Earth Day and the environmental movement as a whole is rich and rather fascinating, one that could not be wholly displayed in blog format, but its history and future is very much a factor in our daily lives.

    Now in its 41 year, Earth Day has become a holiday acknowledged worldwide. More people inhabit the Earth now than 41 years ago and while we are still using our natural resources at an alarming rate, think about how much worse off we could be if it had not been for those “hippies and tree huggers” back in 1969. Think about how much worse off we WILL be if we don’t help conserve the resources we have now, recycle the items that can be recycled and band together in educating the young and ourselves. On today of all days, make a commitment to ‘Green up’ your life: commit to recycling at home and at work, commit to purchases that promote conservation, commit to planting a tree; . Your commitment is only limited by your imagination.

    Today at Muzak’s Home Office, the Green Team will host the 4th annual Muzak Earth Day event. We have a schedule chock full of happenings to keep our employees entertained, informed and, most importantly, educated. From the ‘live green, work green’ T-shirts and fabulous raffle prizes to the earth-friendly lunch vendor, with a dash of live entertainment between, we’re setting our sights on sparking a passion for a greener world. At Muzak, we have passionate people and passionate people make all the difference in accomplishing the greatest changes.

    Contributed by Abigail Gilmor, Product Consultant, Muzak Green Team

  • A More Sustainable Muzak

    Natural worldMusic has a way of transcending space and time.  Whether it’s a reminiscing thought about a cool day in May when you first heard that certain classic or the lyric that’s been stuck in your head for the last week, music has staying power – in a word, music is sustainable.  No one understands this philosophy better than Muzak.  Each and everyday, Muzak beams out over 300 music programs to its business clients, creating those reminiscent thoughts and stuck-in-your-head lyrics.  Currently, the lyrics of KT Tunstall’s “Suddenly I See” are repeating in my head, courtesy of a regional client’s latest TV commercial.  Understanding the timelessness of music isn’t where Muzak draws the line with regard to sustainability practices.  In 2007, under the guidance of Muzak’s Executive Board, a committee dubbed the Green Team was formed. The members helped the company devise practices that would support a greener, more efficient workplace.

    In the 4 years since its inception, the Green Team has revised Muzak’s best practices, allowing for a cleaner, greener world.  Small changes can create a big impact while gearing employees up for larger, more expansive campaigns.  After all, it’s baby steps that pave the way to the greatest change.  The Green Team understood this and made its first order of business the removal of Styrofoam cups in all Muzak offices.  At first, there was push back because it is easier to grab a new cup each time you get a hot cup of joe; the Green Team persevered.  Members held mug drives, so that employees could bring in mugs from home and leave them in the kitchenette areas of the offices.

    From there, other small steps were born, each making a grander impact on environmental consciousness, until the most daunting of tasks was tackled… implementing the paperless sales order process.  Until the Green Team made the antiquated paper sales order process its mission, written forms were seen as imperative to all workflow processes.  But paper has its drawbacks.  Besides being environmentally un-friendly, the fax machine that receives the sales order could be on the fritz, or even worse, the paper forms could get lost or misplaced.  While it took some time to get 1000+ employees on board, the paperless sales order process is now the norm, leaving many of us to wonder how we ever operated without it.

    For any company undertaking the task of making their business more earth friendly, I applaud you.  It’s called environmental responsibility for a reason. The journey may be long and arduous but by taking small steps, you’ll see that you WILL be making a cleaner, greener world.  In the words of KT Tunstall, her song still stuck in my head, “And I feel like walking the world, like walking the world”…and what a beautiful world it will be!

    Muzak’s Green Accomplishments:

    • Elimination of Styrofoam products from all office locations.
    • Increase of office temperature by 1 degree, saving an average of 10% on yearly energy usage.
    • Implementation of a recycle program for: mixed paper (cardboard, paper, and magazines), aluminum cans, glass bottles, plastics and all obsolete or unusable equipment.
    • All Home Office lighting has been replaced with energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFL).
    • Sponsorship of Adopt-A-Highway program – cleaning up the stretch of highway outside of our Home Office.
    • Paperless Sales Order process, since its implementation, this has resulted in a 70% savings of paper.  As of 2.1.11 the paperless process has saved approximately 2950 reams of paper.  To put that in green terms, we’ve saved approximately 130 trees, 7.5 tons of paper, 22.5 cubic yards of landfill, and 153,750 gallons of water.
    • Implementation of Café Wednesday lunch events where a food vending client sells lunches to employees at the Home Office.  Because of Café Wednesday events, Muzak team members save 43 gallons of fuel, 850 pounds of CO2 emissions, 2 barrels of oil, and $116 in fuel costs when they choose to purchase lunch from the food vendor and skip going out to lunch.
    • GPS tracking on all service vehicles, allowing for the closest technician to visit a client for service related issues.
    • Hosting of quarterly recycling drives for electronics.

    Four years of hard work at finding new ways to operate has finally begun to pay off and both the environment and Muzak are better for it.  And of course the Green Team is glad that our passion has affected so many changes.

    Contributed by Abigail Gilmor, Muzak Green Team Member, Product Consultant

  • Making a Difference with Music

    SXSW PanelWhile at SXSW last week I attended several presentations and panel discussions covering important issues within the music industry.  Legendary musician Bob Geldof’s vision of music’s potential impact on our world was extremely captivating.  My brother Duff McKagan, founding member of Guns n’ Roses and Velvet Revolver, tackled the topic of finance and the role it plays in the life of musicians.  Expert panelists engaged in topics covering publishing, distribution, performance, licensing, marketing and publicity.  All were highly informative.

    It was a gathering I attended late Friday afternoon that rocked my world.  A last minute schedule change left me an hour of open time.  I noticed a panel entitled “Empowering Communities Through Music” and thought this would be an interesting filler of time before engaging on a full agenda that evening.  Turns out that the panelists were rap artists and managers, a genre I admittedly know little about.  Immortal Technique was the celeb in the group, a street-wise Harlem MC who takes no prisoners.  He’s a very articulate speaker who delivers a social message.

    The panelist who most caught my attention is a native from Austin named Christopher “Gidon” Ockletree.  Gidon is co-founder of the hip-hop group Public Offenders, who has released three albums addressing conditions of injustice.  He is a humble, soft-spoken MC with a war-chest of stories about struggles in life and the world of rap.  Gidon grew up on the impoverished eastside of Austin, where the only constants were violence and drugs.  There were no eastside community centers, and organized sports and music were sparse.  Because families couldn’t afford instruments for their kids, rap was the musical language of his streets: the vehicle to vent anger and desperation. As Gidon grew older (he’s still a young man) he realized that rap music could be used to teach these kids.  In 2007, he co-founded a nonprofit organization entitled The Cipher-Austin’s Hip Hop Project.  The Cipher is on a mission to unite youth through music and activism.  Gidon’s team of volunteers began to teach these kids how to write, compose and share creative ideas, as they challenged the reasons for anger, violence and hatred.  They share positive approaches to rap, introducing the kids to a whole new world outside of east Austin.  Gidon spoke with passion, dedication and hope.  This was not a sales pitch.  It was real.  The guy didn’t even have a business card.

    As a representative of Muzak, I spent a very productive three days at the music industry’s most relevant annual event.  As a member of our Heart & Soul Foundation, SXSW spoke to me through Christopher “Gidon” Ockletree, at an entirely different level.  It was an honor to have been in the presence of someone who has dedicated himself to such a creative and effective way to use music to help underprivileged kids in his community.  He epitomizes the vision of Heart & Soul.

    Submitted by Bruce McKagan

  • Charlotte Parrott Visits Muzak

    Charlotte Parrott

    Charlotte Parrott

    There are a few things that we truly love at Muzak. We love music – obviously. We love what our Heart & Soul Foundation does for kids with a passion for music. And of course we love our clients – without them we would be sitting on the sidewalk loving music and kids that we couldn’t help. Occasionally, we in the Home Office get the opportunity to celebrate all three at the same time. Monday morning we hosted  one of our clients. As a treat during their visit, we asked one of our local Heart & Soul Noise! Camp alumnae, Charlotte Parrott, to join us in City Center and perform.

    Charlotte is no stranger to the stage, as she is a regular at several local live music venues. She credits the Heart & Soul Noise! Camp with helping her realize that she can realize her dream and have a career in music. She leaves for UNC-Chapel Hill to start the journey in the fall.

    I still remember being blown away the first time Charlotte performed on the Muzak stage during our 75th Anniversary Celebration. She and two other 2009 campers performed “Imagine”, then she and Julie Bullock sang backup for Charlene Marie’s original “Man Up!” What a passion for their music!

    Every time I hear Charlotte, or any of the Noise! campers, I am just amazed at the music that they pull from their souls. Today, we want to share Charlotte’s performance with you. Please take a minute and watch Charlotte captivate the Muzak Home Office.

    This is also available on http://www.youtube.com/MuzakLLC .

  • 2011 Audio Architect Summit

    -3We’re a very lucky fly on the wall at today’s kickoff of the 2011 Muzak Audio Architect summit. Our locally and nationally based music gurus have collectively descended on Uptown Charlotte for 72 hours of creative meetings.

    Have a question for the group? Drop it in the comments or @ us @MuzakLLC on Twitter.

  • Good Taste


    Give a baby in your life this organic guitar-shaped teething toy. Too cute!


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