James Black from Black Sorrows playing outside on keyboards.

How to Support Australian Music through On Hold Music

2020 and 2021 have been immeasurably difficult years, from environmental disasters, repeated lockdowns due to the pandemic, and massive economic hardships. Many businesses – particularly those in the hospitality and service industries, as well as the arts – have suffered from the lack of in-person patronage. Artists and musicians have been particularly impacted due to lock downs, resulting in cancelled tours, music venues shutting down, and opportunities to perform dwindling.

Impacts on Artists

According to one survey, almost 2,000 performing artists have carried the burden of 28,000 cancelled gigs (or other performances) since 1 July 2021. By one estimate, it has resulted in $84 million in lost income. Artists who predominantly make their income through live performances, from DJs at a wedding or filling bars and venues on a Friday night, have reported having to look for work in other industries. However, some of the impact can be mitigated by utilising an often-neglected space: on-hold music.

Rethinking On-Hold Music

Music on-hold (MOH) has a notoriously bad reputation – slightly worse than that of elevator music. If it is a genre of music, it is predominantly characterised by what it communicates to the caller: please don’t hang up. Otherwise, it is simply noise that is meant to fill silence. MOH is also useful: if there is silence, callers will simply think the line is dead and hang up, resulting in calls being abandoned or remade – which ultimately wastes both time and money.

People complain about hold music, but companies don’t want to completely eliminate on-hold music. 30% of callers who drop calls (due to silence or particularly awful on-hold music) will never call back, resulting in a significant potential loss in revenue. In one study of 10,000 callers who were placed on hold in total silence for one minute, over 50% of callers hung up before one minute was over.

So: consumers want better on-hold music, and businesses need noise to fill the silence. Contrary to popular belief, on-hold music does not have to be bad. In fact, businesses may have a bottom-line incentive to offer better on-hold music. One marketing report suggested that 16-20% of callers purchase goods or services based upon messages they heard while on-hold. With the right on-hold music, callers believe wait times are shorter than they are. Additionally, it can leave callers with a more positive impression of a customer service interaction or a business. In fact, one 2017 study revealed that over 70% of consumers think music improves a brand image.

Australian businesses have a unique opportunity to rethink on-hold music and how it impacts their business. In fact, there is a current movement to encourage businesses to support Australian music by playing local artist’s music in place of current on-hold drones.

Supporting Local Australian Musicians

Providing new or lesser-known artists with another platform like the on-hold phone music can offer several benefits. First, it provides another avenue for an artist’s work to be acknowledged. Second, it provides artists royalties from their music being played. Taking it further, a lot more larger companies should consider directly licensing Australia music for on hold to assist their brand and local music industry. Third, local businesses who play local artists may be favored by potential patrons more than those businesses who continue to play the same, boring, instrumental music. Finally, this can be an opportunity for local businesses to partner with artists in a mutually beneficial agreement – with both parties reaching demographics (and by extension, paying clientele) that they otherwise might not.  

Although some business owners may be hesitant, research indicates that the right on-hold music can result in more patient callers, drive higher sales, and leave a caller with a positive impression of their customer service. Furthermore, reminding callers that your business supports local artists may foster more positive feelings about your business.

The Australasian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owner’s Society (APRA AMCOS) suggests that some of the on-hold music could be written by Australian composers that work directly with a company. For other on-hold music, APRA AMCOS pays royalties that reflect what an artist would have received for plays on the radio or through digital music (streaming) services.  

#HoldAussieMusic Petition

One petition, spearheaded by Karen Eck, seeks to require Australian corporations to provide local musicians a platform on which local creatives can showcase their original songs. This petition has gained growing support from the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) and APRA AMCOS.

Although there is a slightly higher fee than playing instrumental license-free music, you will be supporting local, Australian-based artists and musicians who are valuable contributors to Australian culture and vitality. Businesses are already shifting to a more mindful Australian consumer: most Australians are interested in supporting local neighbourhood businesses and causes. This is simply another way to reach a customer by aligning your business with their values.

Change Your On-Hold Music

Your business may be primed to make a difference by changing your on-hold music. If you do not currently have an on-hold music, you may want to consider aligning your on-hold music selection with customer preferences. If your business is a gym, your patrons likely listen to upbeat music between 120 and 140 beats per minute and will appreciate on-hold music that has the same energy. By contrast, if your business sells to high-net-worth clients, contemporary jazz may be a more successful choice.

If you do currently play on-hold music to callers, it may be time to update your on-hold music selection. Callers do not want to hear the same music every time they call your business, so rotating your playlist and offering refreshed musical arrangements is a critical part of keeping callers happy.

Contact Evolved Sound Today

Whether you need assistance writing an after-hours phone message script that simultaneously informs your client and captures your business’s style, or you are ready to record, contact Evolved Sound today to set up an appointment. Evolved Sound can help you with customer experience, audio marketing, and marketing strategies.

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