We’ve all heard the easy-listening sounds of instrumental pop music over the service known as Muzak. Once you reach a certain age, there comes a memorable day when you notice that the coolest, most rebellious song you ever heard when you were a teenager is now a Muzak instrumental played at grocery stores. But there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Muzak. For instance, it’s very old. The company was founded (under another name) in 1922. They developed different playlists for different purposes.
6. Muzak was designed to make factory workers more productive.
Muzak manufactured soundtracks, based on a theory called “stimulus progression,” that consisted of 15-minute segments of background music that gradually ascended in peppiness. The method was meant to tacitly encourage workers to increase their pace, especially during the productivity lulls that often occurred during the late morning and mid-afternoon.
7. Muzak helped calm anxious elevator passengers.
Since more advanced electric elevators diminished the need for elevator operators in the mid-20th century, passengers were often left alone with an unsettling silence that made them all too aware that they were hurtling upward or downward in a steel box. Soft, calming Muzak played through speakers offered the perfect distraction.
And that’s what is meant by “elevator music.” The word “Muzak” also became a term for any bland, instrumental song cover. The company lives on, although under yet a different name. Read 16 soothing facts about Muzak at Mental Floss.