Whether or not you realize it or not, you’ve been within the temper for a while. That’s Mood Media Corp, one of many world’s largest suppliers of atmospheric music and visuals (together with digital signage, scent, service menu boards, maintain music. on-hold messaging and built-in A/V) to shopping-oriented companies, lodges and eating places.
Complete Meals makes use of Mood. Goal makes use of Mood.
Two weeks in the past, that Mood soured because the Austin-based company, based in 2004, filed for chapter within the Southern District of Texas, in search of to restructure $627.5 million of debt. Its monetary woes, Mood CEO David Hoodis mentioned, got here down to the media big’s buy of 13 separate like-minded corporations since its begin. “With mentioned acquisition got here leverage and lots of debt as these corporations merged,” acknowledged Hoodis. Mix that with excessive prices (1,700-plus workers internationally) and Covid-19 (“70% of our purchasers stopped paying us”), and Mood Media’s chapter appeared inevitable.
As luck (and smarts) would have it, although, someday after Mood Media filed for Chapter 11 on July 30, the corporate’s restructuring plan was authorized by a federal choose, its debt decreased by $404 million — and the temper lightened.
“Getting out of chapter was made fast by onerous work and getting concessions from each stakeholder, be it lien holders, fairness holders or bond holders, that this was a recent chapter for Mood,” mentioned Hoodis. “They purchased into our imaginative and prescient of a brand new, lean construction, a discount within the debt load and the creation of a corporation transferring ahead in a post-Covid world with the intent of development and stability, that their funding would return sooner or later.”
By August 13, Mood hadn’t simply elevated its Concord all-in-one Model Expertise (a proprietary tech platform the place purchasers handle all of their content material by one singular content material administration system). It had launched Mood Reimagined, the corporate’s new shopper assist and repair initiative pushed by ease of use and phone, and its Middle of Excellence. The latter analyzes and interprets client developments and conduct information quicker so Mood can provide real-time strategic counsel to its operators.
“As we transfer ahead with a Reimagined Mood, it’s with the conclusion that the buyer expertise has grow to be related,” mentioned the person behind Mood’s music, Danny Turner, international SVP of artistic programming. Speaking concerning the interconnectivity of audio, video and extra signage, Turner pushed the agenda of “absolutely built-in media options and campaigns,” the place each alternative to affect or localize is afforded.
“We’re pivoting… making the model expertise retail-ready and retail-easy in an economical, fully-integrated means,” mentioned Hoodis.
What was almost misplaced within the chapter proceedings was the title of Muzak, the avatar of self-created, atmospheric background music fortunately referred to as “elevator music.” That’s the model upon which Mood Media constructed its status, with piped-in sound meant to sooth and have interaction, typically tied to the science of how music impacts the conduct of shoppers. (Muzak’s one-time motto was “specialists within the physiological and psychological functions of music.”)
“It’s our legacy model,” mentioned Hoodis of the (comfortable) rock upon which Mood’s empire was constructed. Mood Media acquired Muzak Holdings in 2011, with Muzak buying the property of Independence Communications Inc. in 2012.
Invented within the 1920s by Main Normal George Owen Squier as a know-how to ship music to audiences with out using radio, the North American Firm acquired its rights, created the agency Wired Radio, Inc., made it obtainable in 1934 for business purchasers, ultimately offered to Warner Bros., then sound entrepreneur William Benton, then Westinghouse. At its peak, Muzak had its personal in-house orchestra producing easy, unique content material and simple, breezy covers of well-liked hits of the day.
Different giants of serene, swirling instrumental music equivalent to Mantovani, Ferrante & Teicher, Ray Conniff and Percy Religion additionally grew to become wildly well-liked — the monsters of shlock. “These traditional Muzak sounds, the drippy, kitschy, gloriously saccharine instrumental interpretations of pop melodies, are embedded in our American tradition,” famous Turner. “The Muzak model title grew to become synonymous with the precise product. We grew to become the Band-Help or the Kleenex of economic music companies.”
Joseph Lanza, the creator of 1994’s “Elevator Music: A Surreal Historical past of Muzak, Simple-Listening, and Different Moodsong,” bristles at Turner’s description of Muzak and east listening as saccharine.
“Why would having one thing be fake-sweet be any higher or worse than it being genuinely candy?” requested Lanza. “Folks would think about one thing as schmaltzy since you don’t have some drugged-up jazz trumpeter within the foreground. This essential prejudice in opposition to schmaltz is cultural Marxism,” he mentioned, sticking up for “a easy melody with out the jive of jazz and rock ‘n’ roll.”
One of the best of this lush instrumental music designed for backgrounds, then, is good, sentimental and sometimes unobtrusive, with a Muzak or easy-listening model of any given tune “bringing out the melody that was already current, however, solely now in a extra outstanding vogue, and with out the distraction of the voice,” mentioned Lanza. “It could make the extra harsh devices mellow, and reconstitute the tune itself. You’d nonetheless be related to, and admire, the unique. Elevator music simply added one other dimension.”
Past background instrumentals of the Muzak firm’s begin, Muzak studied the science of musical sound, tones and rhythms to improve buying experiences and heighten productiveness by its Stimulus Development packages of the 1950s. Ultimately, Muzak continued to use those self same prying-and-placement ideas, however with well-liked music and its precise hitmakers, fairly than swooning instrumental covers. Mood Media’s Middle of Excellence (COE), which analyzes and interprets client developments for real-time strategic counsel and bespoke options, sounds a lot the identical as Muzak’s Stimulus Development program.
“Muzak was fascinating in that it had that entire company a part of it they might attempt to promote with actual musicologists and scientific advisors finding out the impression of sure songs and music on the general public,” famous Lanza.
“From giant, multi-national manufacturers in search of a constant expertise globally — whereas permitting their managers to infuse native, market-relevant content material the place acceptable — to the hyper-local craft brewery that desires to find a way to affect the expertise based mostly on its distinctive character, the options have to be architected to be customizable,” mentioned Turner, talking of Mood Media’s new initiatives, which appear related to Muzak’s Stimulus program.
The cushiony serenity and/or sweetness of Muzak’s unique imaginative and prescient of atmospheric tones have been so pervasive that, come 1986 when Westinghouse introduced it was promoting the sonic background supplier, metal-head Ted Nugent made a $10 million bid to buy the corporate with the intent of shutting it down. “Muzak is an evil power in immediately’s society, inflicting folks to lapse into uncontrollable matches of blandness,” mentioned Nugent on the time.
By the ’80s, nonetheless, the music at Muzak was on the transfer from the background to the foreground.
“The dynamic of what folks count on — or fairly, what retail anticipated — modified,” mentioned Hoodis of Muzak’s transfer to well-liked artists fairly than elevator-driven covers. “With well-liked music, we discovered clients stayed within the retailer longer and shopped. The got here again extra regularly. They purchased extra. That pushed away the simple listening atmospheric music that when labored effectively for our purchasers.”
Lanza additionally theorized that stringed instrumental music ultimately died off as a result of “child boomers got here up and had their very own model of being mellow, totally different from the era earlier than: the ’70s singer-songwriter albums of Carole King and James Taylor who made melancholy songs about rising older or shopping for a home.”
Mood Media retired its Muzak model title by 2015. However Muzak lives on for Mood — and YouTube followers — perhaps now greater than ever in its lengthy historical past.
“Not way back, these much-maligned instrumental interpretations of pop melodies that went beneath the Muzak banner have been de rigueur,” mentioned Mood’s Turner. “Now, digital chill or lounge changed that soundtrack. It’s modern, not obtrusive and matches with environmental components. In different conditions, pop can nonetheless reign. Within the grocery vertical, for instance, multi-generational, mid-to-upper-tempo, acquainted and present pop and adult-contemporary alternatives have a tendency to resonate probably the most.”
Turner goes on to say that Mood Media just lately launched an album of previously-unreleased Muzak studio classes with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra (“Muzak Periods,” on the Muzak Archives label). “We have now cabinets filled with archived transcription masters that will eclipse your typical storage sale or report swap,” mentioned Turner, addressing how typically uncommon, breezy instrumental albums from the Hollywood Strings or Mantovani, in addition to YouTube channels from Muzak and its rivals in background music, 3-M, come up as a subject.
Then there’s Joseph Lanza, who continues his obsession with all issues Muzak and simple listening in his upcoming guide, “Simple Listening Acid Journey: An Elevator Experience By way of Sixties Psychedelic Pop,” from Feral Home.
Together with touting YouTube channels the place variations of “noisy” Beatles songs equivalent to “I Me Mine” from Franck Pourcel reign as quasi-baroque chamber music, Lanza doubles down on mid-to-late-’60s and early-’70s psychedelia and the way it discovered a pillow-y existence within the final vestiges of true simple listening, in addition to its personal schmaltzy previous.
“You had English bands just like the Beatles and the Kinks analyzing their heritage within the British music corridor fashion, whereas American bands have been wanting backwards to Tin Pan Alley and vaudeville,” mentioned the creator, not counting the people and neo-classical revivalism on either side of the ocean. “The irony right here being that in an age the place lots of older of us thought it was the tip of the world, it was the so-called hippie teams who have been arising with songs with extra melodies than their dad and mom’ favorites equivalent to Benny Goodman have been doing.”
As for easy-listening and Muzak variations of ’60s and ’70s flower-power hits, these have been executed in the identical spirit as Percy Religion and Mantovani earlier than them. Solely now, these instrumental ensembles, from Lawrence Welk to the Mystic Moods Orchestra, have been tackling twisted rock backgrounds whose “edges have been softened to be made extra palatable… whereas its melodies have been heightened,” mentioned Lanza, pointing to the Hollyridge Strings’ model of the Beatles’ “Strawberry Fields Ceaselessly,” Paul Mauriat’s plush remedy of Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Positive to Put on Flowers in Your Hair)” and the Muzak instrumental model of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints,” by Charles Grean and His Orchestra.
“Hear to Donovan, then hear to, say, David Rose and His Orchestra doing lush instrumental variations of Donovan (“Put on Your Love like Heaven”),” mentioned Lanza. “These songs have been provided to teen and grownup audiences concurrently. You don’t actually have that unusual interaction of generations and contexts anymore. Now, it is only one two-dimensional goulash of nothing.”