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  • Supermarket Music

    1988… Being dragged around Gateway supermarket by my mum. Hated it. Boring for a five year old. However, the music that was playing kept my spirits up.

    Muzak, or more simply “Supermarket Music”. Terrible tunes, bossa nova rhythms and flute melodies. The whole thing was horrendous, yet, it now feels fondly nostalgic.

  • #2
    Originally posted by TubThumper View Post
    1988… Being dragged around Gateway supermarket by my mum. Hated it. Boring for a five year old. However, the music that was playing kept my spirits up.

    Muzak, or more simply “Supermarket Music”. Terrible tunes, bossa nova rhythms and flute melodies. The whole thing was horrendous, yet, it now feels fondly nostalgic.
    Sometimes called testcard music because similar tunes were used when TV programmes weren't been shown, Pages From Ceefax had similar chintzy tunes.
    The Trickster On The Roof

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    • #3
      Tesco still has familiar tunes belting out just as you are about to put the Kellogg's Corn Flakes in your trolley... Hearing ELO on the tannoy makes me want to take my time around the store - one assumes that is the general idea when in a supermarket, so that one notices other items for sale in order to purchase? .

      I know that it used to be the Performing Rights Society which decided whether shops such as supermakets were allowed to play music in their stores so that the whole public can hear them - I am not certain whether that is still the case these days or whether the rules have since been relaxed. Hearing Tracey Ullman "perform" They Don't Know in Matalan a few years back was a nice surprise. Mind you, a family member used to bring her album tape into the shoe shop she used to work at and had an extended audience as a result.

      Shopping centres still have their "Muzak" (Victoria Centre in Nottingham, we mean you!), and at least it is not vocal and so therefore no major priblems there and then.
      I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
      There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
      I'm having so much fun
      My lucky number's one
      Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Richard1978 View Post

        Sometimes called testcard music because similar tunes were used when TV programmes weren't been shown, Pages From Ceefax had similar chintzy tunes.
        Yes, I remember the Test Card and Ceefax music too. Saxophone melodies and solos. Very similar to supermarket music.

        My other post on here is about Vaporwave. This micro genre has elements of Muzak too. It’s a good read. Feel free to comment and discuss

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by George 1978 View Post
          Tesco still has familiar tunes belting out just as you are about to put the Kellogg's Corn Flakes in your trolley... Hearing ELO on the tannoy makes me want to take my time around the store - one assumes that is the general idea when in a supermarket, so that one notices other items for sale in order to purchase? .

          I know that it used to be the Performing Rights Society which decided whether shops such as supermakets were allowed to play music in their stores so that the whole public can hear them - I am not certain whether that is still the case these days or whether the rules have since been relaxed. Hearing Tracey Ullman "perform" They Don't Know in Matalan a few years back was a nice surprise. Mind you, a family member used to bring her album tape into the shoe shop she used to work at and had an extended audience as a result.

          Shopping centres still have their "Muzak" (Victoria Centre in Nottingham, we mean you!), and at least it is not vocal and so therefore no major priblems there and then.
          I didn’t realise some shopping centres still played Muzak. The last I heard it was when seeing videos of the World Trade Centre plaza and the underground shopping centre, before that fateful day that the towers came down. One song sticks out in my mind, it was an instrumental version of “She’s Always A Woman” by Billy Joel. After the first plane hit the tower, a couple of journalists went back to the scene. The plaza was deserted, and there was dust a paper everywhere. However, despite the horrendous situation, “She’s Always A Woman” could still be heard playing in the background.

          Muzak had a “royalty free” status. The music could be played in public places without a Performing Rights Society licence. These days, every public place has a licence. Supermarkets, Pubs, Shopping Centres, Leisure Centres… They all play music that isn’t royalty free. Hence why we all hear the majority of pop and rock songs through the ages.

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          • #6
            It's been a while since I've been somewhere that has played muzak, usually if I hear background music in recent years it's been songs or sometimes classical music.

            I believe most muzak was paid on a flat fee, same with library music used on testcards.
            The Trickster On The Roof

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            • #7
              My Dad worked at a supermarket for a number of years as produce manager. One time he brought in this weird radio, it's what they used to get the subscription service muzak in with for the store but had it upgraded and he didn't want to see anything thrown away. We never figured out how to get that to work but didn't try very hard... who wants to listen to piped-in supermarket muzak?

              Now I love that test card and 'we are experiencing technical difficulties' please stand by music... have a couple CDs worth of it plus a couple dozen library albums!
              My virtual jigsaws: https://www.jigsawplanet.com/beccabear67/Original-photo-puzzles

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TubThumper View Post

                I didn’t realise some shopping centres still played Muzak.
                I am certain that Victoria Centre does - they did up to the 2000s. I assume that is also why restaurants do that sort of music as well, because they don't have the PRS to deal with.

                I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                I'm having so much fun
                My lucky number's one
                Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I heard that a study was taken and it was the relation between shopping habits and Muzak types/ tempo.
                  not surprisingly, energetic upbeat tunes made shoppers rush about and spent less time in the shop whereas during the slower more relaxed numbers, shoppers spent more time browsing , looking and therefore spending . So I’ll doubt you’ll ever hear “the ace of spades “ in Asda!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by George 1978 View Post

                    I am certain that Victoria Centre does - they did up to the 2000s. I assume that is also why restaurants do that sort of music as well, because they don't have the PRS to deal with.
                    Regarding PRS, I remember buying a double cassette player/recorder in the local Comet store and I asked if it could be switched on so I could hear the sound quality. This was refused because of Performing Rights licensing. I could buy it, try it and return it if not satisfactory.

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                    • #11
                      I suppose it's a bit like the reason why one can't eat any more (or "try before you buy") in a supermarket like one used to at the cheese counter: A) It could be seen as theft, and: B) Health and Safety reasons, passing on germs, etc.
                      I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
                      There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
                      I'm having so much fun
                      My lucky number's one
                      Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

                      Comment

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