• Rock Stars

    Q2 2011 Rock Stars

    Q2 2011 Rock Stars

    Every company has some.  Some companies more than others.  You know… those employees that simply transcend all expectations.  But does every company take the time to recognize these exceptional performers?

    For years, Muzak has honored special guests, touring musicians and clients as rock celebrities, having them sign guitars that are proudly displayed at our Home Office in Fort Mill, SC.  Hey, we’re in the music business, so it just makes sense.  At last count, we’ve got over 15 autographed guitars; each packed with the signatures of these special Muzak ‘celebs’.

    Upon his arrival at Muzak last year, new president Steve Richards was looking for a way to identify and thank our exemplary employees… the ones he called our “Rock Stars.”  Our Rewards & Recognition team had been waiting for the right opportunity to initiate an all company program that would do just that.  Muzak Rock Stars was born: an all company program that awards top performers who go above and beyond their job duties to consistently find ways to improve processes, productivity, sales, teamwork and/or the quality of the work environment at Muzak.

    So now each quarter up to 15 employees are selected from hundreds of nominees as Muzak Rock Stars:  technicians, administrators, IT specialists, programmers, call center reps, sales support, warehouse personnel, designers and the list goes on.  Each of these quarterly top performers is recognized at an all-company Town Hall meeting, in front of our 500 Home Office employees and streamed to over 750 field employees and franchisees.  Each Rock Star receives an engraved trophy, a spotlight in our weekly digital newsletter and internal web site, a feature on our Muzak digital signage network and some cash!  We also have a special Gibson SG guitar (collector’s model) with each quarter’s Rock Stars engraved on the pick guard.  It is mounted front-and-center with our 15 other autographed guitars.  All of this coupled with lots of high fives, hugs, handshakes and emails from an appreciative team of employees and managers.

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

  • News Flash



    OK, so the literal definition of a blog is “a web site on which an individual or group of users record opinions, information, etc. on a regular basis.”  We know, however, that many of you are coming to the Muzak blog hoping to catch up on all the news following the recent purchase of Muzak by Mood Media.  For those looking for your daily dose of press releases and news articles about Muzak and Mood Media (and there are lots these days), we invite you to visit www.muzak.com (under About Us/Media Relations) where you’ll get all the latest news as it hits the wire.

    And remember that we’ll be right here with new and engaging commentary, observations and stories every day about our people, culture, music, history and future… You know, just what a blog is supposed to do.  Together with muzak.com you’ll get the complete Muzak story.

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

  • The Face of the Muzak Home Office

    Teria Hefney


    If you’ve ever visited the Muzak Home Office in Fort Mill, SC, you might have been struck by the architecture of the building, the music playing everywhere, the display of technology, the archive museum, or the vastness of the facility.  It’s an impressive place that showcases our business of music and media in a very unique way.

    But there’s one thing that catches everyone’s attention each and every time they visit.   Her name is Teria.  Some companies might call her a receptionist, but to Muzak she represents much, much more.  She is the personality of Muzak.  She is what people remember most about this place.  We have many opportunities to impress visitors: entertaining City Center events, tours, guitar signings, an awesome new video wall and the list goes on.  But Teria trumps them all.  She just has the uncanny talent to connect with everyone she meets: the smile, the conversation, the laugh, the warmth.  That still doesn’t capture everything she brings.  She is simply wonderful!

    So, if the award winning facility or the intrigue about this historic company doesn’t bring you into our Home Office, then we think you should consider coming just to meet Teria.  She’ll have you at “hello.”

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

  • Glimpse into Our Future

    Video Wall Reveal

    Video Wall Reveal

    At 11:25AM on Thursday June 9th, Muzak’s Home Office in Fort Mill revealed a glimpse into their future.  Ever since the company’s purchase by Mood Media in early May, the new Mood Media/Muzak team has been hard at work integrating the best of both worlds. The digital signage opportunities within the industry were a top focus.  Experiencing significant success with visual media in over 25 countries across Europe and Asia, Mood Media representatives from France, London, Ireland and Belgium came to Muzak for 3 days to share their secret digital signage sauce.

    Then came the moment… Gathering all 500 employees into what Muzak calls their City Center, Mood Media unveiled a huge new video wall, as hundreds more from across the world looked on via the company’s private network.   A magnificent video played, showcasing the power of video for business and the expertise of Mood Media’s London content team.  Three minutes of hair-raising visuals and audio brought the house down.  The cheers reverberated throughout the building as employees realized they had just experienced their future.

    But seeing is believing.  To see and hear what over 1000 Mood Media/Muzak employees experienced that day just watch.

  • Set the Right Ambiance

    Ladies at LunchThe environment of your business is always changing.  Your music should reflect and even influence that ambiance.  It’s the difference between a casual lunch and a livelier happy hour.  Opening a new business account on Tuesdays and cashing that Friday paycheck.  The business traveler checking in for a conference and a young couple on a romantic getaway.  Adjust your music to set the mood for your customers in the appropriate context of your business.  They’ll take notice and connect with your brand on a deeper personal level.  And that’s something you can’t put a price tag on.

    Contributed by Joe Hall, Muzak Product Line Manager

  • 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

  • The Sound of Muzak in the ’40s

    John Kirby

    John Kirby

    I have a few more blogs coming that will continue to uncover Muzak’s trendsetting customer research approach of the 1940s.  But you know me by now.  We’ve gotta hear some more music from our archives first!

    As owner Bill Benton was firing up the marketing machine, Ben Selvin continued his genius in the Muzak APM studios, recording the industry’s best.  Many of us think the recordings he captured through this decade are among our finest.  The singers were amazing; Rosemary Clooney, The Deep River Boys, a young Vic Damone, the Galli Sisters, and the list goes on.  The bands, arrangements and productions just kept getting better with each session.

    So, which track should we pick to get us started in the ‘40s?  Remember, these tracks have never been released to the public and haven’t been heard in over 50 years!

    I literally closed my eyes and randomly picked a track.  One of approximately 7,500 we recorded in the 1940s.

    …and the winner is (drum roll please) “Desert Night” by jazz band leader and double-bassists, John Kirby.   Having played with the likes of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie and Buster Bailey, John Kirby was an extremely popular band leader in the ‘30s and ‘40s.  Listen to the musicianship and solos as John Kirby’s 6 piece group nailed this song in just one take back on August 18, 1944 at the Muzak studio in Manhattan.  Not a bad random pick if I do say so myself.

    Contributed by Bruce McKagan, Muzak Archives Director

  • 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

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