The Sound Of Muzak

I have to confess, over the years I have developed an odd fascination with Muzak. In earlier years when it really was "elevator music" I wondered…who writes this stuff? Who plays this stuff? Are they real musicians? Actually, back in the 70's…before Muzak was even owned by the company that owns it now I tried to do a story on it built around a taping session. I wanted to see a conductor stand before an orchestra, wave his or her conductor's wand and have the musicians play…Muzak. The folks who ran the company at the time wouldn't hear of it (so to speak) and instead let me interview a very stern lady who had very strong opinions about how music can be programmed to stimulate productivity or calm people down. It was my introduction into the world of Muzak!

Well…many years later, upon my return to the New Muzak, I hardly recognized the place. It looks like a real music company…complete with the kind of grungy/groovy (allow me the use of archaic terms for the sake of alliteration) guys and gals (there it is again) who look nothing like their predecessors in the Muzak biz. Today Muzak is real music. It's still piped in to almost everyplace you go, but it's recognizable, with a rhythm and a melody and even lyrics normal people might want to listen to. And it's paying off. Business is good. They'll put their system in anywhere you want…except in one place. Guess where that is!

Sorry…you gotta watch tonight's Evening News to find out.

  • Richard Schlesinger

    Correspondent, "48 Hours," "CBS Evening News"