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How to get hold music for your business

The right phone hold music keeps customers entertained while they wait for an agent. Learn how to get hold music for your business in our guide.

Por Patrick Grieve, Contributing Writer

Última atualização em April 15, 2024

Simple tips for selecting hold music

  • Stick to royalty-free music

  • Decide on an appropriate genre

  • Consider your average wait time

  • Prioritize high-quality audio

  • Determine supported file types

Music is all around us, all the time, providing the soundtrack for our lives. That’s why figuring out how to get hold music for your business is so important (and so difficult). You don’t want to leave your customers in silence, and you don’t want to subject them to obnoxious elevator Muzak, either. It’s a delicate balance—one where every note matters.

You might question the importance of hold music, but consider this scenario: You’re on a call and suddenly hear nothing—naturally, you’d assume the call dropped. Hold music assures customers they’re still in the queue, merely minutes away from connecting with a customer service representative. It can also help make the time go faster, but you must consider certain factors when choosing the perfect song.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about finding the right hold music, from licensing to our favorite hold songs for a better customer experience (CX).

More in this guide:

Where to find hold music for your business

Many companies offer on-hold music tracks that you can download and use to fulfill customer needs. Here are some sites hosting hold music of various genres and prices.

Zendesk

Zendesk is the expert in empowering businesses to elevate their CX with best-in-class customer service software. While we recognize that consumers shouldn’t be stuck waiting on hold, it can happen.

Anyone can download our song “Museum” for free and use it on their phone system to improve the hold experience for customers.

Hold music recommendation:Museum” is modern and catchy, making it the perfect on-hold song.

Cost: Free to download and use

Musopen

If you’re feeling classical, the Musopen music discovery tool is a great resource for downloading the works of great composers. You can search and sort the massive database by composer, instrumentation, time period, and more. Or, you can simply filter songs by mood categories, such as “relaxing” and “happy.”

All the music is royalty- and copyright-free, but always double-check the licensing requirements for any song you select. Some selections may require attribution.

Hold music recommendation: We like “The Blue Danube,” by Johann Strauss II, a calm, melodic waltz many callers will recognize from the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Cost: Free “Lite” accounts include five music downloads per day

Birchills

The UK-based telecommunications company Birchills created a small selection of non-copyrighted instrumental tracks that are free to download as MP3 files.

Though these songs sound a bit generic, cuts like “Bright Sunshine” are admittedly catchy.

Hold music recommendation: If you’re looking for a song that has earworm potential but isn’t overly repetitive, the “Morning Coffee” track from Birchills is a great pick. With its pleasant mix of piano and guitar, the song should help keep customers from getting too impatient while they wait.

Cost: Free to download and use

Snap Recordings

Snap Recordings offers personalized on-hold messages with background music for users to purchase. It also boasts over 1,200 songs and 100 voice actors for a bespoke hold experience.

If you’re looking for custom hold messages to supplement customer-oriented support, Snap Recordings is a solid choice.

Hold music recommendation: For a classical feel, Frédéric Chopin’s “Prelude No. 13” is calming without being boring, but the acoustic guitar-led jam “Digging In” is the biggest toe-tapper of the bunch.

Cost: Personalized messages start at $80 per 100 words, and background music starts at $35

Melody Loops

Melody Loops boasts a large selection of royalty-free on-hold music. The available styles run the gamut from electronic pop to acoustic folk.

The site also provides a helpful breakdown of download compatibility to let you know which WAV files work best with certain popular telephone systems.

Hold music recommendation: The loungey and irresistibly named “Candy Jazz” is both elegant and relaxing—though pretty short at 52 seconds. If you need something longer, try the more modern sounds of “Bold Dreams.”

Cost: Individual song downloads start at $19 for three tracks, and unlimited downloads are available for $6 per month

Amazon Music

Amazon carries an album called “Music On Hold,” with selections spanning from soft piano ballads with background nature sounds to covers of classical compositions. The songs are only available as MP3 downloads, so you may need to convert them if your phone system requires a different file format.

The album is well-produced and affordable, but the tracks tend to be on the slow side.

Hold music recommendation: We like Ludwig van Beethoven’s “Pathétique Sonata”—perhaps because its second movement is basically a royalty-free cover of Billy Joel’s “This Night.”

Cost: $9.49 for the album, $0.89 per song

Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive is a library of open-licensed music created by independent artists. Founded in Jersey City in 2009, Free Music Archive provides a resource for customers who need free music while remaining fair to independent artists.

Most music is under a Creative Commons License, so the terms of use vary for each track. There is also an option to purchase royalty-free tracks.

Hold music recommendation: Piotr Hummel’s “Pure Sensation” is a cinematic track that flows well with just the right amount of drama.

Cost: Starts at €48 (about $50) per royalty-free song, depending on the license type.

How to choose the best hold music for your business

An illustration of a woman sitting with a headset on accompanies a list of factors to consider while choosing hold music.

Long hold times are a sign of bad customer service, but the occasional brief hold is sometimes unavoidable. Follow these best practices to choose the right music and make your customers happier while they wait.

  • Stick to royalty-free music: With royalty-free music, you don’t need to pay the creator each time you use the track. However, you may need to pay a one-time licensing fee.
  • Decide on an appropriate genre: Hold music should be engaging but not controversial. Stick with classics, like acoustic or jazz tracks, rather than going out on a limb with experimental techno.
  • Consider your average wait time: Find a track that meets or exceeds your average handle time. Customers grow restless if they can tell the music is repeating.
  • Prioritize high-quality audio: Hold music should be clear and high quality with an appropriate volume. The audio may sound different to customers, depending on the device.
  • Determine supported file types: Some hold songs are only available in one file type. Ensure a track is compatible with your phone system before you buy it.
  • Leverage historical data: Keep a close eye on call retention rates after updating your hold music to report on performance.

With these factors in mind, you can improve the phone hold experience and overall customer satisfaction.

Frequently asked questions

Deliver better phone support experiences with Zendesk

There are many factors to consider when picking the best hold music for your company. Hopefully, the resources and recommendations we provided will save you time in your search for the perfect song.

Finding the right hold music should be just one small part of your broader mission to ensure customer satisfaction. You must take additional steps to enhance the overall customer experience, and using the right CX software can make all the difference. See how Zendesk can help you take your phone support to the next level—and ensure brief holds always stay brief.

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