Although elevator music (or Muzak – the generic term for elevator music) is rare today, it has a long history. And, there are many reasons behind these background noise melodies that we’re subjected to in elevators, waiting rooms and shopping malls. Studies show that Muzak can influence group behavior, boost worker productivity and make shoppers linger in stores longer. Who knew?
OK, lets face it. Elevator music is boring. And it definitely doesn’t entice me to interact with others. I would rather insert my ear buds (or headphones) and listen to my own music. And, in major cities, that probably is not very safe! So, a group in Philadelphia formed a project called Really Good Elevator Music. The project is an experiment that explores the potential of sound to stimulate social interaction and community building in the strikingly diverse Philadelphia neighborhood of Chinatown North/Callowhill. To test the experiment out, six artists with a connection to this community were invited to create tracks for a Really Good Elevator Music playlist – which were played on loop in elevators of The Wolf Building and other public/private spaces in the neighborhood. Really Good Elevator Music hoped to activate these spaces by filling them with a very different kind of Muzak, the kind that challenges participants to rethink their relationship with these spaces, the neighborhood, and each other.
Video on the project:
Results from the experiment have not yet been released but you can visit the website for more information and to check back. Would this make you more social and community-minded?