November 1, 2005
Noise Free America
For immediate release
Madison: Muzak has won this month’s Noisy Dozen award from Noise Free America for manufacturing intrusive, ubiquitous, irritating music. Because of the Muzak Corporation, no American can go to a store, restaurant, shopping mall, airport, or other public place without being assaulted by mindless “background music.”
Muzak has been annoying American consumers since 1920. It now supplies music to 300,000 sites in the United States (and has a European operation based in Holland). Because of Muzak, Americans are increasingly unable to enjoy the sounds of silence–or hear themselves think.
George Melly, a member of the British activist group Pipedown, stated that “I detest piped music because it is an unquestioned imposition, because it is an enemy of live music, and because most of the people I’ve questioned in pubs and restaurants would much prefer its absence.”
Surveys indicate that most people dislike piped-in “music.” In April 1994, Great Britain’s Gatwick Airport Management surveyed 68,077 travelers. Forty-three percent said they disliked the piped music, 34 percent said they liked it, and the remainder had no opinion. (Because of the survey, Gatwick Airport has since terminated its canned music.) In January 1997, a survey for the Sunday Times of London asked people what was “the single thing they most detested about modern life.” Coming in at number three was “piped music,” cited by 17 percent of respondents. (The first two items cited were other forms of noise.)
Ted Rueter, Noise Free America’s director, stated that “piped-in music is physically and psychologically damaging. All unwanted sound raises an individual’s blood pressure and thus depresses the immune system. Blind people (who must rely on background sounds to help navigate their world) find ‘background music’ disorienting. For people who are hard of hearing, background noise is a major annoyance. One survey showed that 86 percent of hard of hearing people find Muzak annoying.”
Noise Free America is a national citizens organization opposed to noise Past “winners” of the award include Ford Motor Company, John Deere, and Pioneer Electronics.