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What Is the Best and Worst On Hold Song of All Time?

Nobody likes being on hold, but a good on hold song can make the experience a little bit better. The perfect hold song might even make you forget you’re waiting! The science confirms it: good music on hold can keep customers on the line a lot longer than those who use none.

Similarly, there’s nothing worse than an annoying, repetitive, or simply bad bit of hold music. It can straight up make you want to give up on whatever you’re waiting for, no matter how important it might be.

Here are some of the best and worst call waiting music practices used today:


A Brief History of on Hold Music

The inception of listening to a song on hold came around in 1962, and it was a total accident. Inventor Alfred Levy had an issue with his phone lines: whenever he would put someone on hold, a song would play through the phone. Why?

The culprit was a loose wire, which was accidentally touching some metal in the building. This effectively turned Levy’s building into a receiver, which would pick up the signals of the radio station next door to him. I guess Levy’s customers must have been a big fan of this, so in 1966 he patented his discovery and on-hold music was born.

Nowadays, there are much more convenient methods of acquiring and playing music on hold than turning your building into a receiver, but without this little mistake, we may not have music on hold as it is today.

The Best on Hold Songs

There are a few things to consider when finding the perfect music on hold, from genre to artist to general sound. Everyone’s music tastes are different so it’s hard to please everyone, but there are certain rules that make it easier to make a decision.

One avenue to consider is the “pun” or using a song that has something to do with holding on. Popular choices fitting this category are Baby Hold On by Eddie Money and Hold The Line by Toto. If nothing else, these songs might give you a hardy chuckle while you’re sitting on the line, and that’s certainly better than nothing.

If you want to consider genre, there are some interesting avenues to go down. Classical music is commonly used, but the major setback of any type of music that intricate is the loss of quality. Therefore, something simple and light is probably best.

Classical is calming, though, and it keeps the customer invested. It also gives your company a “professional” vibe before the customer even gets through the line. The genre you choose for your hold music should represent your company to a degree. 

Oftentimes, it’s best to just go with something simple and breezy. The term that comes to mind is muzak, otherwise known as elevator music. It may not be the most exciting or topical music, but it does the job by appealing to a wide audience and not suffering too much from quality loss.

Plus, using licensed music can get expensive, and isn’t an option for some companies. It’s best to avoid using anything licensed and popular without permission. No hold music is worth getting sued over.

The Worst on Hold Songs

There are a lot of bad choices for hold music, and a lot of bad choices you can make.

The worst choices are something alienating, or niche. Rap music is often a risky one as it can be seen as too “aggressive”, and anything vulgar is a definite no-no.

Beyond price, radio hits are a bit of a deadly choice, as you run the risk of playing something over-saturated. You may love the latest Taylor Swift track, but after the millionth time hearing it literally everywhere you’re running the risk of someone getting annoyed and hanging up. Classic rock or oldies are often a better choice, as they’re heard less but are still familiar to most. 

Bad quality can make bad hold music even worse, especially for newer or more intricate songs. It also doesn’t get much worse than music on loop, or anything overly repetitive. Sometimes silence is preferable to hearing the same sound over and over again, so make sure you’re giving the customer something interesting to listen to.

 You might be tempted to use a company jingle or tune for hold music too, but this should be done tactfully. Some people do mix in a message, ad, or something related to the company while the customer is holding, but your hold can’t be all company-related. The customer know why they’re waiting, they don’t need to be reminded.

Some of the worst choices for hold music would be yodeling, Crazy Frog, or anything from the Limp Bizkit catalog. Any polarizing artist is risky, so even top artists like Justin Bieber or Cardi B can be bad options despite their radio play. Keep it simple, upbeat, and fresh and you’re on the right track. 

Why You Should Use a Good on Hold Song

There are some legitimate benefits to using the right hold music, including a boost in retention rate, and even giving the customer the perception that they’ve waited less time on the line.

If you want to be the true king of hold music, some services even allow the customer to skip a song by pressing a button. Now that’s a considerate move. 

If you’ve got good hold music, it shows you’re thinking about every little aspect of your business right down to the time on hold, and that reassures a customer that they’re making the right choice calling you. 

Thank You for Holding

Hold music is something you might not think twice about, but it would be a mistake not to consider it. A good on hold song can keep your customers entertained and on the phone, and in the end that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?

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