THE DAY THE MUZAK (ALMOST) DIED

“Waiter, can you stop that noise?”  

“What?”  

“Yes—what you call music.”  

The noise that Lena Olin’s character was referring to in Philip Kaufman’s film adaptation of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” has irritated millions since “Muzak” was invented in the 1920s. Muzak Holdings, the most popular progenitor of painfully bland background music, has filed for bankruptcy. Sadly, the drone must go on: the company plans to continue pumping out aural pollution in restaurants, shops and elevators while it restructures some $500m (£352m) of debt under bankruptcy protection.   The news of Muzak’s near death is one of the only silver linings visible in the dark storm clouds that have gathered round the struggling music industry. There are reports that Clear Channel Communications, the largest radio-station owner in America, has tapped an emergency line of credit, while Sirius XM Radio, a recently merged satellite radio broadcaster, has begun to prepare for its own bankruptcy filing. Record companies have been desperately searching for a new business model since the advent of Napster.   No doubt the music industry and (alas) Muzak will stumble on for years to come. But while music is intrinsic to human nature, Muzak is arguably a perversion of this basic pleasure. If added strain of the worldwide financial crisis causes Muzak Holdings to collapse into complete insolvency, this recession will not have been entirely without merit.      ~ CORBIN HIAR
Picture Credit: Evan: (via Flickr)