• RED Everywhere!

    HS AdminIf you just happen to visit Muzak’s Home Office in Fort Mill, SC, and that visit just happens to be on a Friday, you’ll see an ocean of RED.  Red T-shirts, golf shirts, hats and balloons everywhere!  It’s not a company promotion.  It’s not a birthday or an anniversary.  To most employees it’s something much more than that.

    The Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation has been a part our company’s culture for over 13 years.  It’s all about giving back to the community, extending the power of music to the lives of today’s youth.  Through music education, a child can better achieve his/her full potential and stimulate personal and educational growth.  One heart-felt program of the Foundation is Music Matters, a grant program focusing on grade K-12 music education programs serving the underprivileged.

    So why the RED on Fridays?  It’s simple.  Our Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation color is red and our staff wanted a day to commemorate the educational programs we have and will support through Music Matters.  Inspired by a group of passionate employees, it’s called Music Matters Fridays.  Building each Friday for weeks, we don’t expect it to end anytime soon.  Hundreds of employees have now joined in, with RED literally seen everywhere.  With each Friday our employees seem to come up with new ways to bring to life the real impact of the Foundation by sharing stories, posting pictures and writing articles about the kids we’ve touched.

    Music Matters Fridays demonstrate the passion that runs deep in our company culture.  Muzak is a company with a commitment to give back by supporting our music community today and in the future.  RED symbolizes the passion of our employees in keeping the Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation heart beating strong… for the sake of the kids.

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

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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 8 Hours – 8 Songs?

    Board2What happens when you gather 4 ultra-creative artists into a college music studio for 8 hours?  Well, the plan is to write and record 8 songs, then perform them live the next day.

    Musicians Ben Folds, Damian Kulash of OK Go and Amanda Palmer, solo artist and former singer for The Dresden Dolls, plan to lock themselves in a studio at the Berklee College of Music with award winning author Neil Gaiman.  The session will be broadcast online and the music will be performed live at one of the sessions the next day during the Rethink Music Conference in Boston, and released via Bandcamp.com.  Proceeds from the first week of downloads will be donated to Berklee City Music, an organization linked to Berklee College of Music that provides age appropriate music education for underprivileged youth.

    If you have read Bruce’s “Blogging the Archives,” you will know that once upon a time, 8 songs in three hours was not a big deal, but those artists weren’t writing the songs, they were only recording.  Today it can take months and even years to get an album produced.  Folds, Kulash, Palmer and Gaiman have their work cut out for them, but we wish them the best.  As our Heart & Soul Foundation attests, we at Muzak are passionate about helping keep music education healthy.  And with this group of artists, I can’t wait to buy the CD.

    The 3 day Rethink Music Conference, held April 25th-27th, will also tackle hard questions about copyright law, fostering art in a technologically changing world, and the music business in an internet centered world.

  • 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

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