RIP Muzak, or now I can find peace on the elevator

20090211_musak_146x97You know things are shitting the bed, economically speaking, when Muzak has declared for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

This won’t guarantee that your morning elevator ride will be more pleasant, only that the Kenny G-styled mixtapes will no longer give you that gentle urge to kill a coworker when the elevator becomes packed like sardines. 

“While no business or individual is free from the wrath of the global economic crisis,” Muzak was able to “weather the storm” and continued to generate positive cash flows, he said. Muzak had revenue of $249.1 million in 2008 and $250.2 million in 2007, court papers show.

Closely held Muzak supplies more than 2 million songs and music to retailers to help set the mood in their stores, in hopes of influencing shoppers to become buyers. Muzak was founded in the 1930s by U.S. Army General George Squier, who adapted military messaging technology to pipe music into elevators to drown out the noise they produced, according to its Web site.

Muzak later began marketing to employers, citing research showing that background music could increase employee productivity. By the early 1970s, Muzak was selling its original recordings of songs, performed without lyrics, to retailers.

Today, Muzak delivers music from more than 80 genres via satellite or by producing custom mixes. Customers have included McDonald’s Corp., Ann Taylor Stores Corp. and AT&T Inc., Muzak said on its Web site.

Also: Previous long profiles of the company: New York Observer and New Yorker

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