Hold Music

Avoiding Lawsuits: What should I know about Hold Music?

None of us like being put on hold, but good hold music can act as a consolation prize for our patience. Now you are looking to pick that special prize for those who call your business or organization. Be away of all the legalities that could be involved! We’ve got some suggestions for how and where you can get the best hold music for your callers.

Make Sure it’s Legal!

A common mistake made when looking for hold music is to disregard copyright. Even though a CD you own or a local radio station is licensed for you to listen to privately, they aren’t licensed for you to re-broadcast through your phone system. Companies can, and do, get sued for using music that they don’t have a license for.

You’ve got a couple options for getting legal hold music:

1. You can pay to license music.
2. You can look for music in the public domain.
3. You can record your own.

Paying for Licensed Music

This is the most straightforward option for finding hold music. There is a large variety of music available that is specifically designed for on-hold listening. The recordings have good sound quality and the music providers usually offer related services like custom message recording.

Finding Public Domain Music

Finding public domain music will probably take more time, but it can save you money and yield great results. Because public domain recordings tend to be very old they don’t always have the greatest sound quality, but then there’s the added benefit of historical value and nostalgia.

A lot of websites share both public domain and creative commons music so it’s important to make the distinction between them. Creative Commons means that the creator is allowing other people to use their work for free under certain conditions. Those conditions will usually limit the work to non-commercial use. They also usually include an “attribution” requirement which means that credit has to be given to the artist wherever you share their work. There isn’t any easy way to give them credit in a phone system. Public domain, on the other hand, has no restrictions.

Recording Your Own

If you have the skills and equipment for it, recording your own music is a sure-fire way to get unique and personal hold music for your customers. Keep in mind that the song itself will need to be written by you, unless it is in the public domain or you have obtained the rights to perform and record it. This is probably the most time-consuming way to get hold music for your phone system, but it could be a lot of fun.

Choosing the Music

You have probably noticed that music affects the way you feel. The hold music you choose is going to influence the mood of your callers as well. When listening to sample tracks, I like to imagine that I’ve just been put on hold, and see how that makes me feel about the music.

What to Avoid

You’ll want to avoid frantic music that might increase the listener’s stress, but also keep away from music that sounds boring and would make the wait seem longer. Keep in mind that overly upbeat music might sound unsympathetic to a caller who is upset.

Mix it up

Although your hold music should be something that appeals to a wide variety of people, it doesn’t have to be overly generic. You can look for tracks that fit the message and purpose of your business. People who dislike being on hold often complain about the music being repetitive. Best case scenario is to have short hold times. But, when they can’t be avoided, a long and varied music selection can help. It seems worth mentioning that a lot of people have had success using alternatives to music in their hold systems. Sometimes callers prefer listening to trivia, riddles, or poetry for a change. It requires creativity, but it can be rewarding to think outside the box.

Suggested Sources for Hold Music

FreshPhone is not affiliated with or sponsored by these sites in anyway, but we think they might come in handy for you.

Music for Sale

Price: $28 USD for unlimited use of 3 melodies.
My favorite tracks: “Upbeat Ukulele,” “Whistle, Playful Discovery,” and “My First Guitar”

Price: You can contact them to get an estimate that will depend on several variables.
My favorite tracks: “Black Coffee” under the acoustic category and “What a Friend” in the gospel category.

Public Domain

The Free Music Archive also includes creative commons material, but on their search page you can check the “public domain” box towards the bottom of the search options column and hit go to limit your search to only Public Domain music.

You can also limit to instrumental and search by genre, title and artist.

Price: Free
My favorite tracks:
“Sweet Sun” and “Flashback”