black headphones with mobile smartphone

Hold Music From The View Of The Customer

Hold Music From The View Of The Customer

Hold music brings a little something something to the stresses of being on hold. Being on hold is something that everyone has had to sit through in one way or another. The modern world is built on technology and that includes a lot of phone calls and thus, a lot of hold music. Whether it’s a simple call to book a doctors’ appointment, or a therapy appointment, or a longer call waiting on the Alberta Government; Music while on hold is everywhere.

The music you hear while on hold is also known as Music-On-Hold, MOH, or Phone Hold Music. Typically this is used in customer service situations or technical service situations where the customer needs to remain on the line while the other end works on their request or circumstances. They essentially sit on the phone and wait for the service to be completed. This waiting is why there is hold music in the first place.

black headphones with mobile smartphone
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Is Hold Music Better Than Silence? Really?

The simple answer to that is yes. Hold Music exists as a way to make waiting on the phone a more enjoyable experience. Face it, the average person doesn’t like silence. The reason that music makes waiting better is that you have something pleasant to focus on. As well, Music makes it seem like less time has passed.

“Music is a powerful emotional stimulus that changes our relationship with time. Time does indeed seem to fly when listening to pleasant music,” Psychology Today explains that, “Hearing pleasant music seems to divert attention away from time processing. Moreover, this attention-related shortening effect appears to be greater in the case of calm music with a slow tempo.”

The USA Business Telephone Today Center studied the impact of keeping customers on hold with and without music for one minute to see how their reactions differed.

The first group of people, a sample size of 10,000 were placed on hold for one minute in complete silence.  It went about as well as you’d expect.

  • More than 50% of callers hung up before one minute was over.
  • 45% of callers who stayed on the call thought their time on hold was between three and five minutes. This is a much higher amount of time-based on their time perception.

The second sample group of the same size was placed on hold with on-hold music to listen to as they waited. This group showed a much different response to simply having music to listen to while they wait.

  • Just 13% of people hung up the phone.
  • Then 31% of callers thought their total hold time exceeded 60 seconds.
  • Over half (56%) of people considered their hold time less than a minute.

Thus with hold music, people are comfortable waiting longer. It simply helps the time pass faster.


Why Does PhoneHold Music Suck?

Although this music can suck simply because it’s not good quality music, typically It’s the phone system that’s used instead of the music.

If the music sounds like a cassette player in a tin can being used as a pinata, don’t blame the musician. It’s probably a tech issue as phone systems are made and designed for human voices which have a different range than music. If the hold music sucks, you should probably let the representative on the other side of the phone know.


What Are Popular Songs Examples?


What About You? What Would You Like To Hear While You’re On Hold?



Droit-Volet S, Ramos D, Bueno JL, Bigand E. (2013) Music, emotion, and time perception: the influence of subjective emotional valence and arousal? Front Psychol; 4:417. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00417.

On Hold 32, 2019. Survey results > on hold. OnHold 32. Available at: [Accessed September 1, 2021].

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