On-hold mu­sic has a cost

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE - HENRY COOKE

The Min­istry of So­cial De­vel­op­ment spends more than $13,000 a year on hold mu­sic for their Studylink and Work and In­come call cen­tres.

The hold mu­sic for Studylink, which ad­min­is­ters stu­dent loans, is fa­mous among stu­dents – who can some­times find them­selves hearing a lot of it.

An Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest re­veals the min­istry spent $13,137.22 in 2016 in or­der to li­cense and use the mu­sic.

‘‘The min­istry con­tracts OneMu­sic to pro­vide hold mu­sic for both Studylink and Work and In­come call cen­tres, en­abling up to 600 phone lines to play hold mu­sic si­mul­ta­ne­ously,’’ a spokesman said.

OneMu­sic is New Zealand’s main mu­sic li­cens­ing body, han­dling roy­al­ties for mu­sic played in cafes, other busi­nesses, and even school dances.

Their web­site said hold mu­sic ‘‘has a pos­i­tive im­pact on cre­at­ing the right at­mos­phere and can be an ex­tremely valu­able busi­ness tool when cus­tomers and clients are phon­ing your of­fice, pro­fes­sional rooms or busi­ness’’.

Rates are in­dexed to in­fla­tion and be­gin at $276.86 a year for 1-5 lines.

Each ad­di­tional line above 400 costs $24.24 each. Playlist fan Otago Univer­sity stu­dent and editor of Critic Joel McManus used the Of­fi­cial In­for­ma­tion Act re­cently to get a full list of Studylink’s songs, which he was a big fan of.

‘‘This is like the new gen­er­a­tion of Na­ture’s Best,’’ MacManus said.

‘‘I re­ally wanted to get my hands on the rest of the playlist but I wasn’t keen to keep call­ing.’’

The playlist is made up en­tirely of Kiwi mu­si­cians, in­clud­ing four Six60 songs and Lorde’s break­out sin­gle Roy­als.

But how long would they be hearing such a song?

The min­istry said the av­er­age hold time for Studylink over 2017 was ex­actly three min­utes and one sec­ond – barely enough time for a sin­gle song.

‘‘Studylink ex­pe­ri­ences higher call vol­umes around the start of the study year and also between semesters.

‘‘Th­ese pe­ri­ods in­crease the av­er­age speed to an­swer for the year; in off-peak times the an­swer is shorter,’’ a min­istry spokes­woman said.

As of June 2017, 732,973 Ki­wis had a stu­dent loan, with a to­tal nom­i­nal value of about $15.7 bil­lion.

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