On-hold music has a cost
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.