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The beautiful accident of Music on-hold

Ever made the perfect meal? Or an amazing cocktail? How about finding a great shortcut…totally by accident? Well, next time you pick up the phone and give a company a buzz, you’ll likely hear the results of what was, a seriously lucky accident! Or what we call in the biz – Music-on-hold.

Like a lot of great inventions and discoveries…it happened by accident. Think Sir Isaac Newton sitting under his apple tree, or Dr Alexander Fleming getting back from a lovely summer jaunt in Scotland. While the invention of music-on-hold hasn’t quite altered our understanding of the physical universe or saved potentially millions of lives over the course of the last century, it’s certainly made a necessary part of everyone’s lives a little more engaging, and a little less boring!

In the early 1960’s Alfred Levy, an inventor, entrepreneur, and factory owner discovered that somehow, when his callers were on hold – they could hear the radio station nearby. Turns out a loose wire which was touching a metal girder, had turned his factory into a radio receiver. From there, Levy invented the first system allowing businesses the world over to play music, broadcasts, recordings and pretty much anything else they wanted to a caller waiting on hold.

Since then, the concept has grown, been improved, and reimagined. It’s turned from a way to let callers know they’re still connected, into a powerful marketing and sales tool. Callers can be entertained, can listen to personalised messages, stream music, receive live relevant and personal updates and so much more...

In 80 short years, the world of on hold has changed, it’s a booming industry that helps customers and businesses everywhere, and it’s all thanks to a very happy accident.

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Premier CX is a creative agency specialising in contact centres. Our award-winning team works with some of the UK's most successful brands.

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