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History of hold music: How did we end up with Handel tinkling through the telephone?

Very amusing read.

And, generally, research has supported the axiom that, when it comes to waiting on the phone, something is better than nothing. A 1997 study in the Journal of Direct Marketing, for instance, found that callers to a fictitious business reported shorter waits (and higher customer satisfaction) when they heard a range of hold music—from Steve Winwood to Handel’s Water Music (!)—than when they heard silence.

But, of course, it’s not so simple. What happens, for example, if you hear music you don’t like? A 1990 study in the Journal of Services Marketing, for example, found that younger people reported their shopping time to be shorter when it was accompanied by Top 40 music; that equation, however, reversed itself for shoppers over 25. And yet music that you like poses another problem, as identified by a study by Nicole Bailey and Charles Areni. “Compared to more anonymous selections,” they write, “familiar music is more accessible in memory; hence, more events are associated with the target interval, which expands perceived duration.” Of course, even anonymous hold music can go on to become familiar, almost loved—in the famous case of Tim Carleton’s “Opus No. 1,” for Cisco.

via Slate

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