This New Yorker article about Muzak is pretty interesting. I'll admit that I did not know Muzak did regular music programming; I thought their whole business was about the instrumentalized pop music. Turns out it is a stigma that they are still trying to shed. The brand became too closely associated with the product, like Xerox. What Muzak really does is unite stereotypical associations of musical genre with lifestyle perceptions in what an executive calls "retail theater." A brilliant term, by the way.
What do I think of this? It's a real turn-off, in the sense that the music choice seems so uninspired. On a corporate level, I mean, Gap and Armani could do so much better than merely imitating the blandness of MTV or VH1 or CMT, depending. Seattle's OnHold program, for instance, takes the opportunity to expose callers to local independent music while they angrily or patiently await their service from the city offices. Whereas Muzak claims to be helping the retail stores make money, the Seattle government helps the artists by showcasing their work. Music for Music's sake, and for all the right reasons, it seems.