^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

The Day The Muzak Brand Died

Muzak is dying. Long live Muzak.

That great musical mainstay of elevators, shopping centers, and other hellish waiting places is getting consolidated by its owner Mood Media, melding inside their own longstanding multi-sensory brand simply called Mood.

By far my favorite Muzak tune was Lionel Richie's "Stuck On You". It really knocked the "I guess I'm on my way" part out of the park. I can hear it now...

The Atlantic Wire has a great timeline of the company's history here.

In 2011, Muzak was bought for $345 million by Mood Media, which also has the market cornered on sensory marketing, where they engineer fully-enveloping experiences for their clients and their clients' customers. Mood is why certain stores smell the way they do, or their colors are just so.

Since its inception in 1934, Muzak has helped create the insidious soundtrack for your most mundane tasks, while also alternately becoming a stunning score for your most important ones. Factories in World War II used Muzak to increase workers' productivity.

The company was founded by World War I veteran General George Owen Squier. The former military man liked the way the name Kodak looked and sounded, so the Muzak name was born.

Through Stimulus Progression programs, Muzak colluded with corporate America to alter the working patterns of countless employees. Faster Muzak meant faster workers, calming Muzak sedating workers in high-stress locations. Muzak was even used by NASA to mellow Apollo astronauts on extremely important missions.

Younger people probably know Muzak's former competitor DMX -- the barking rapper -- a bit better. That company supplied actual music to its clients, not the Muzak variety. But both are now owned by Mood, which means DMX will also be a thing of the past.

Obviously Muzak was the bane of many a rocker's existence, diluting popular music into jaunty or saccharine pieces that were nearly unrecognizable to their plugged-in ancestors. In 1989, Ted Nugent offered up $10 million to buy the company with the expressed intent to shutter it for good.

In 1996 the company decided to pull its planned $69 million IPO, instead going the more reliable (ha) junk bond market, which predictably meant disaster.

In 2009, after another decade and a half of financial floundering, Muzak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, listing assets of only $50,000. This helped out immensely and the company (sorta) emerged out of ruin with less debt, just in time for Mood Media to snap it up..

The Muzak name may be dying, but the sound is not. Your favorite bloodless instrumental versions of Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars cuts will still be around, you may just have to listen harder.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

If you think about it, Muzak has probably been one of the biggest unsung influences on modern music. No? OK, never mind. I guess I am alone on that ranch.


Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.