Dont leave me hanging on the telephone...
May 19, 2009 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Help me find on hold music for my company.

My company recently asked me to come up with suggestions for on hold music. So far we have come up with:

Call me - Blondie
Hanging on the telephone - Blondie
Hold me - Fleetwood mac/savage garden

oh and

Never gonna give you up - Rick Astley (Yay! Rickroll)

So give me your best witty on hold suggestions!
posted by gergtreble to Media & Arts (31 answers total)
Best answer: Never There by Cake?
posted by burnmp3s at 7:11 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

How long is the average time on hold?
posted by The Whelk at 7:12 AM on May 19, 2009

That could get annoying, plus, securing the rights would render the song use problematic.

If you still want to use commercial music, I recommend surf instrumentals. Check out Dick Dale's greatest-hits album.
posted by LSK at 7:12 AM on May 19, 2009

Much Worse by Big Audio Dynamite.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 7:16 AM on May 19, 2009

Response by poster: Average on hold time 20 secs or so, so impact is best! We are applying for a PPL/PRS licence so commercial music is welcome. Were just hoping to give the person on hold a grin!
posted by gergtreble at 7:18 AM on May 19, 2009

567-5309 / Jenny?

I also like surf instrumentals as LSK suggested. Or if you want to mix it up, the Nutley Brass covers of Ramones and Misfits songs are pretty great. I think they are available through iTunes.
posted by ladypants at 7:22 AM on May 19, 2009

20 secs? Hanging on the telephone, while *awesome* starts with a ringing phone and that could be a little confusing.

I'm such a bad person that the idea of a normal muzaky-hold-music breaking into Rickroll is really appealing. Although that joke would get stale after the first couple of seconds ..and be non-loopable.
posted by The Whelk at 7:22 AM on May 19, 2009

LSK: ooo, I'd love to be hold if I could hear some Ventures.
posted by The Whelk at 7:23 AM on May 19, 2009

Nine Inch Nails Ghosts.

It's mostly fairly ambient, with no words, it's 4 discs long, so you won't have the same thing repeating immediately, and, perhaps most importantly, it's released under a Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license, and I think non-commercial in this case means "you can't be trying to make money off of it." (Ask your lawyer to be sure.)

Recently I've been hearing this all over the place, not least of which being as backing music on Chicago Public Radio's This American Life episode 354: Mistakes Were Made.
posted by atbash at 7:25 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Toto's "Hold the Line." The Thompson Twins' "Hold Me Now." Any version of "Please Mr. Postman." Tom Petty's "The Waiting."
posted by uncleozzy at 7:28 AM on May 19, 2009

Best answer: Lionel Ritchie Hello, over, and over and over again
posted by mattoxic at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2009

Response by poster: I know its a short hold time. But we are hoping to have whatever we choose on a loop so the people on hold will dip into it. Good point with hanging on the telephone though.
posted by gergtreble at 7:30 AM on May 19, 2009

Best answer: I do not understand why a really crappy instrumental version of Girl from Ipanema is not on your shortlist??
posted by Meatbomb at 7:36 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: 4'33".
posted by Wet Spot at 7:38 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Beatles - You won't see me
Beatles - No Reply

Danse Macabre?
posted by prufrock at 7:47 AM on May 19, 2009

Johnny Thunders, "Get Off the Phone"
Buzzcocks, "No Reply"
posted by vers at 7:50 AM on May 19, 2009

Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. "Hello, is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?"

Poe's Hello. "Hello, hello, hello. Are you out there?"
posted by Houstonian at 7:57 AM on May 19, 2009

Oh, and Sheena Easton's Telephone. "Can't find you anywhere. I call you on the telephone, but you're never home. I gotta get a message to you. I wanna tell you what I'm going through."
posted by Houstonian at 8:07 AM on May 19, 2009

Best answer: The BeeGees "Gotta Get a Message to You"- hold on, hold on...
posted by rmless at 8:13 AM on May 19, 2009

Thelma Houston - Don't Leave Me This Way
Kim Wilde - You Keep Me Hanging On
posted by pised at 8:14 AM on May 19, 2009

Penguin Cafe Orchestra's "Telephone and Rubber Band" (my ringtone, which always confuses people).
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:04 AM on May 19, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cake - No Phone!
posted by steeb2er at 9:05 AM on May 19, 2009

No Doubt's Spiderwebs? As for a practical, non-ironically-funny suggestion, I'd say go with string quartets, something in the gentle, soothing vein. People on hold tend to be doing something else while holding, rather than listening to the music: something too involved or entertaining may just end up annoying and distracting.

I will say, though, probably some of the more entertaining hold music I've heard is just a local radio station piped into the phone line - if you've got national customers, they may appreciate hearing commercials for your local bars and grocery stores; it's about as quirky but less contrived than phone-themed pop music.
posted by AzraelBrown at 9:09 AM on May 19, 2009

Best answer: We rickroll people on hold occasionally. The great part about it is that if you don't recognize it it sounds like hold music. But it works well when people do recognize it!

A lot of modern pop sounds like crap at "phone quality" because it's so compressed, unfortunately. Be sure to listen to whatever you come up with through the phone or else you'll just end up pushing a lot of distortion to people's ears.

My approach to hold music is to get really stereotypical and ironic hold music instead of stuff that talks about the phone. For instance, I've got lounge covers of "American Woman" and "Safety Dance", and I've got the Shuffle Demons' version of the Hockey Night in Canada theme.

As for licensing, it's $100/year flat fee to the Canadian equivalent of ASCAP for whatever we want to play; I'm pretty sure ASCAP has something similar. That doesn't let you play radio, though, just recorded music.

(And yes, the best hold music for a caller is the kind you can put through speakerphone and ignore, especially if you're going to be on hold longer than several seconds.)
posted by mendel at 9:12 AM on May 19, 2009

The most pleasant song I've ever experienced as hold music is The Girl from Ipanema. As there are a gazillion different versions of it (and counting) you could keep that one song as your hold music forever, but change versions every day, practically. It would be a nice little signature.
posted by Kattullus at 9:26 AM on May 19, 2009

Wilson Phillips - Hold On
Raffi - Bananaphone
posted by illenion at 10:12 AM on May 19, 2009

Hello Goodbye - Beatles
Message in a Bottle - The Police
Head Held High - Velvet Underground ("Hold your head up high!")
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams
Beat It On Down The Line - Grateful Dead
Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

i could do this all day....

Non-themed but fun: use anything by Medeski Martin Wood and/or John Scofield (I've heard these as ringbacks and they make a good impact on the phone, preparing you to be happy to talk to the person)

Do NOT use Bannaphone, that song brings out urges to kill and maim sorry illenion
posted by qbxk at 11:54 AM on May 19, 2009

Conway Twitty - "Hello Darlin"
White Lion - "Wait"
Guns n Roses - "Patience"
Toto - "Hold the Line"
posted by polexxia at 12:42 PM on May 19, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the brilliant suggestions guys. I'll send my boss a link to this thread.
posted by gergtreble at 2:57 AM on May 20, 2009

Pink Floyd: "Nobody Home"
Fuzz Townsend: "Hello Darlin'"
posted by pompomtom at 5:24 AM on May 20, 2009

The last time I had to call the IRS, their hold music was The Nutcracker. I'm not kidding.
posted by mrbill at 8:29 AM on May 20, 2009 [2 favorites]

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