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Background music facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Background music (British English: piped music) is the music that is not intended to be a primary focus of potential listeners. However, its content, character, and volume level should affect behavior and emotions of listeners.

Background music can distract, relax or excite. Listeners have no control over its volume and content.

Background music is often played where there is no audience at all, such as empty hallways and restrooms and fitting rooms. It is also used in artificial space, such as music played while on hold during a telephone call, and virtual space, as in the ambient sounds or thematic music in video games.

Background music can be heard in many settings - from doctors offices and workplaces to department stores and airports. Many styles of music are used as background music.

Multiple studies have shown that the presence of background music in stores increases customers' spendings.


Incidental music

Incidental music is music in a play, radio/TV program or some other form that is not primarily musical. It seeks to add atmosphere to the action and evoke or reinforce emotions being portrayed. It can be dated back at least as far as Greek drama. A number of classical composers have written incidental music for various plays. It can range from simple drum sequences or bass notes to complex orchestral arrangements.

Furniture music

The term furniture music was coined by Erik Satie in 1917. It fell into disuse when the composer died a few years later, and the genre was revived several decades later. Typical of furniture music are short musical passages, with an indefinite number of repeats.

Muzak / Elevator music

Elevator music (also known as Muzak, piped music, or lift music) is a more general term indicating music that is played in rooms where many people come together (that is, not for the explicit purpose of listening to music), and during telephone calls when placed on hold. There is a specific sound associated with elevator music, but it usually involves simple instrumental themes from "soft" popular music, or "light" classical music being performed by slow strings. More recent types of elevator music may be computer-generated, with the actual score being composed entirely algorithmically.

The term can also be used for kinds of easy listening, piano solo, jazz or middle of the road music, or what are known as "beautiful music" radio stations.

Video game music

Video game music (VGM) is a soundtrack for video games. Songs may be original and composed specifically for the game, or preexisting music licensed for use in the game. Music in video games can be heard over a game's title screen, menus and during gameplay.

Website music

The early social media website Myspace has supported a feature where specific songs chosen by the user would automatically play on their profile pages.

Group fitness music

With the proliferation of boutique fitness classes in the late 2010s, a new emphasis is being placed on properly licensing music to be used by instructors in a group fitness environment. As it is more interactive than traditional background music, the licensing and cost structures differ.

Internet delivered background music

Internet-delivered background music was delivered by companies as Mood Media (which had acquired Trusonic, which had acquired Muzak). This allowed the retailer to instantly update music and messages which were deployed at the store level as opposed to using older compact disc and satellite technologies.

Background non-music

Business audio

Business audio refers to a type of service that provides audio content that is licensed for use in a commercial setting.

Business news can be one example. The term background music is another example. Providers of the latter include:

  • StoreStreams Inc
  • Muzak Holdings LLC
  • DMX
  • PlayNetwork
  • XM for Business
  • Music Choice
  • CUSTOMtronics Sound
  • Applied Media Technologies Corporation
  • Trusonic

In the United States, the terms "elevator music" and "Muzak" are commonly used to refer to business audio services that provide background music in retail settings.


Founded in 1934, Muzak was among the early background music providers.

Business audio is produced off-site and delivered to the client via a number of methods including DBS satellite, SDARS satellite, coaxial cable, FM radio subcarrier, leased line, internet broadband, compact disc, and tape.

Most audio content is licensed for personal and home use only. Business audio services allow clients to use audio content in public and commercial settings by paying appropriate royalties to performing rights organizations like ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GEMA in Germany.

Historical devices

  • The 1959 Seeburg 1000 was a stack record player, playing both sides continuous and repeating up to 1000 songs and up to 25 special 9" vinyl records with a 2" center bore at 16⅔ RPM.
  • The Rowe Customusic was an endless tape cartridge player, loading simultaneous six C-type Fidelipac cartridges.
  • The 1964 3M Cantata 700 played continuous and auto-reversing one of its large and proprietary magnetic tape cartridges, containing up to 26 hours of music.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Música de fondo para niños

  • Ambient music
  • Applied Media Technologies Corporation
  • DMX
  • PlayNetwork
  • Jamendo
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