How Did Elevators Lose Their Music?


118 points | by Ariarule 305 days ago


  • MonkeyMalarky 305 days ago
    The bit about using face recognition to customize the music is cool until you think about how it would be cloud based, your face would be associated with an advertising ID, and your day-to-day comings and goings in the physical world would be tracked. But hey, it starts playing the Gorillaz when you get on so totally worth it right?
    • SllX 305 days ago
      It’s all fun and games until I step onto the elevator.

      If life’s taught me anything, it’s that other people don’t like the music I like and I have access to an effectively endless amount of it between Bandcamp and YouTube.

      • JohnJamesRambo 305 days ago
        My outrun music would be amazing on an elevator full of people though.

        Screeching tires, synthesizers, and engine sounds as we plunge.

        • atoav 305 days ago
          Mine would definitly be an truthful emulation of the elevator crashing up/down the shaft.
          • Kye 305 days ago
            Taking a guess: djent?
      • salmo 305 days ago
        Everyone was happy until I stepped on the elevator and Trout Mask Replica came on.

        I always think of Johnny Rotten’s story of playing it at parties to piss people off for these examples. And I do actually like it. But I will admit I listen to Safe As Milk far more often.

    • hsbauauvhabzb 305 days ago
      Gorillaz or targeted advertisements?
      • hn_go_brrrrr 305 days ago
        Hello, Mr. Yakamoto, welcome back to the Gap! How'd those assorted tank tops work out for you?
        • hinkley 305 days ago
          It troubles me rather deeply how many people I have talked to about that movie who completely tuned out the whole pervasive advertising subplot. Didn't see it.

          I was talking about the ads on every vertical surface in the mall, not long after the movie came out, and someone said, "I guess I didn't notice." This is how democracy dies. Not with a bang, but a whimper.

          Ready Player One is much more on the nose about it, but it goes by so fast people likely missed it too:

          > we estimate we can sell up to 80% of an individual's visual field before inducing seizures

          • vijayr02 305 days ago

            > But Minority Report, though it was written and filmed before 9/11, might be Spielberg’s most prescient work of all. Tasked with predicting our near future, he imagined an America filled with dazzling inventions but rotting from the inside out, one in which the erosion of civil liberties is thinly veiled by chest-thumping braggadocio about technology’s power to solve every problem. Spielberg's eye-scanning cameras and autocratic cops could easily be exchanged with the overreach of the PATRIOT Act, or the NSA listening in to casual conversations. The film’s warning is one the world is only beginning to heed. We may not have precogs dreaming of murders in police precincts, but so much beloved technology of today is just as effective at watching and constricting our lives.

            • ElevenLathe 305 days ago
              Most (probably all?) of the social criticism in the movie comes from the Phillip K. Dick source material. It was a good movie IMO but Spielberg is not exactly anti-establishment.
              • hinkley 304 days ago
                But there's a very popular song that says he is! Who am I to believe? A rock star or some random person on the internet?
            • hgsgm 305 days ago
    • jeromegv 305 days ago
      The benefits of having face masks normalized!
    • fy20 305 days ago
      Would you be against such a system if the recognition was done entirely locally and it only sent aggregated stats (male, 30-39) to the cloud? I feel like this is coming whether we like it or not, but we (as engineers) can at least try to push it in the right direction.

      My guess is it doesn't do proper face recognition but just tries to put you into a bucket. "Oh you are a female teenager, play whatever is popular for that bucket"

      • Freak_NL 305 days ago
        People are already pushing back to one-way collection of such data in public spaces, so I would guess that an implementation that does that and directly acts on it (effectively pigeonholing you in a generic musical preference cohort based on age and sex) would cause an even stronger reaction.

        In the Netherlands a couple of those companies that rent out screens with advertising in the public space placed new versions that included a camera above the screen meant for measuring people's reactions to content shown, detecting demographics and mood. After public backlash they promised these were deactivated until the legal situation became clear, but by now they've stuck thick badges over these with their brand name. I guess they got sick of people putting stickers over the camera holes.

      • pfyra 305 days ago
        The right direction, IMO, is to keep the elevators silent. If someone implements your proposal, someone else will top that with complete tracking and the killer feature being the accurate music choice. I bet nobody would like to sign an agreement or privacy policy to use an elevator though. Less is more in this case.
      • snapetom 304 days ago
        This is an honest question. Stop acting like asshat redditors with the downvotes. A downvote on this is not a no vote to the question.
        • MonkeyMalarky 304 days ago
          For what it's worth, I'm not one of the downvoters but as much as it its an honest question, it also has obvious answers. If you bucket by age/gender/race you will immediately be accused of ageism, sexism and racism. Your statistical model can even be 99.9% accurate too and it won't even matter because it will take just that 0.1% walking into an elevator, becoming offended, posting about it on Twitter and it blowing up in your face.
      • netsharc 305 days ago
        It's too easy to track where you've been walking inside a shopping mall, and if you're the only person in the elevator, it can trace that you were previously looking at {laptops,refrigerators,lingerie} and play an ad to promote the product to get you to seal the deal... "Today at the lingerie department we have a 20% discount!"
    • dwringer 305 days ago
      I've suspected for several years now that Sheetz convenience stores do this. Or possibly that the person that does their programming has an extremely diverse taste in relatively obscure music overlapping several of the songs I've engaged with on social media in the past.
      • boomboomsubban 305 days ago
        I get the feeling that at some point the muzak groups did some kind of study that shows shoppers are more likely to frequent a place if they play one slightly obscure song they really like. Which will lead to places like a convenience store playing a string of obscure tracks from a large variety of genre's.

        Or at least that's how I explain my local store playing a country song into some obscure song I love from 20+ years ago, into some modernish pop song.

        Maybe some place has furthered this with recognition software, but I don't interact with much social media and still have noticed this.

        • dwringer 305 days ago
          That seems plausible, I always chalked my suspicions up to paranoia more than anything but it could still be an unsettling feeling from time to time.
    • heavyset_go 305 days ago
      This already happens.
    • ekianjo 305 days ago
      Your day to day comings and goings in the physical world are already tracked.
      • junon 305 days ago
        .... if you keep a mobile device on you or live in a surveillance state.
        • ekianjo 305 days ago
          the percentage of people without a mobile phone is becoming vanishingly small, and even if you don't have one, most states in the west have now implemented tracking of cars, face recognition and the like in cities and public places. Let's not forget tracking of any kind of digital spending including credit cards, which can easily clarify where you have been and when.

          I guess you are still safe if you go alone in the middle of the woods without any device.

        • hgsgm 305 days ago
      • akomtu 305 days ago
        The final battle in the lord of the rings: "My brave warriors! We have already lost. Freedom is not worth fighting for. Orcs outnumber us, and they are so cruel! If we surrender to Sauron, he might choose to burn us quickly. Let's give up our swords, bend to the enemy and show them how spineless we are!"
        • ekianjo 305 days ago
          So you interpret my comment which is a purely factual one as willingness to giving up on Privacy? OK.
          • nonrandomstring 305 days ago
            "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" [1]

            Not to pick on you for any reason, but I interpret it that way too. And FWIW I thought akomtu's comment was quite funny.

            Saying that a state of affairs already exists is no kind of moral or rational argument against the wrongs of bad circumstances. In it's most charitable interpretation it's just empty "whataboutism". A less charitable take is that it's tacit support for a situation by propagating morale-sapping defeatism.

            I'm glad that more people are starting to call out "Privacy is dead just give up" naysayers.

            Now, I'm not saying you are one or that is your intent, but please be mindful that statements that seem to normalise bad circumstances in an offhand way can can't help but be interpreted at lending assent.

            As Howard Zinn put it [1]:

              "The power of a bold idea uttered publicly in defiance of dominant
              opinion cannot be easily measured. Those special people who speak
              out in such a way as to shake up not only the self-assurance of
              their enemies, but the complacency of their friends, are precious
              catalysts for change."
            The same goes for bad ideas as for bold ones. So instead of simply amplifying what is in a rotten world, why not go one step further and say what should be if you wish to say anything at all.


            • ekianjo 305 days ago
              > Now, I'm not saying you are one or that is your intent, but please be mindful that statements that seem to normalise bad circumstances in an offhand way

              In case it was not clear, the parent comment I was responding to was mentioning "if we do that, we'd be tracked day and night wherever we go" (I paraphrase) and to me it's amusing that that poster did not notice that it's already happening right now.

              That does not say anything about this being desirable or not, again.

              > say what should be if you wish to say anything at all.

              You don't have any say about how I should comment on HN.

  • infofarmer 305 days ago
    In Mainland China a multitude of tech and ad companies are working to ensure that every elevator in the country has a screen and audio for a never-ending loop of commercials. Depending on the city, the coverage of premium office and residential buildings is around 100%.

    For older elevators that would not allow much modification, the hardware was a DLP projector mounted under the ceiling with a top portion of the doors covered in a reflective matte sticky film. All the new elevators come with some sort of flat screen pre-installed.

    Hardware is cheap, regulations are lax, it's a decent source of extra revenue for the property management companies.

    • SapporoChris 305 days ago
      The elevator in the apart-hotel I'm currently in (not China) has commercials playing non-stop on a screen. However, happily the property management has muted the volume.

      I expect most property management companies will mute the advertisements, especially after complaints.

      I must say that Billy Idol jumping around while mutedly singing "she cried more more more" gets more amusing every time I see it.

    • walrus01 305 days ago
      Elevators with a flat panel screen with ads in them were already commonplace in many downtown Vancouver BC office buildings 16-17 years ago.
      • Sakos 305 days ago
        I've never seen one in mainland Europe. But then again we don't have all that many highrises with regular foot traffic. It's almost exclusively office buildings.
        • badwolf 305 days ago
          From my last trip, my hotel in Budapest didn't have a screen, but almost every square inch of the interior of the elevator was plastered with paper adverts.

          My hotel in Luxembourg (8 floors total) had 2 screens on either side of the doors to select your floor from. There were static ads in place of floor numbers, to make the floor selection look longer. After the elevator starts moving, the floor selector collapsed to a condensed view with video ads playing on both screens and over the speakers.

        • saiya-jin 305 days ago
          Me neither, but then for last 12 years I live in country that tries hard to avoid any high rises (Switzerland) since cons often outweigh pros long term and those few situations where they make sense are not happening here. Those taller buildings already standing have mostly ancient elevators.

          That being said, I am practically allergic to commercials on screens. If somebody would try to shove it down my throat on a regular basis, the first think I would look for is how to sabotage/break this system while not being caught on camera(s).

          There is one place in our city (Geneva), in the very center some business has put a screen in their window facing super busy street. I don't mind short adverts running there that much. But between them, they put 1s very bright white light blinking done in such an intense way it steals your attention completely and is pretty horrible to your eyes if you actually look at it. Anytime I walk around I look for a stone to throw at it. Or some silenced .22, just to make it stop (I won't do it but only due to cameras and not having a silenced .22, otherwise I would have already done it and would even feel great). Mind you, this is 2m from very busy road and intersection, so I think its an accident waiting to happen because during nighttime its pretty bad.

        • inglor_cz 305 days ago
          I recently saw such an elevator in a hotel in Valladolid, Spain. It was just a 6 story building.

          Hotels have a rather hard time behind them, plus competition with AirBNB, no wonder that they are looking for every income opportunity.

  • pjerem 305 days ago
    > According to a white paper shared by Otis Elevator, the vertical transportation of the future will be able to recognize you as soon as you step onboard, and “the lighting, music or infotainment in the elevator cab will be tuned exactly to your preferences.”

    Oh no please … not this crap again…

    • nicbou 305 days ago
      How about just taking me to my floor in silence? I have my own music. Let me choose the experience.
      • inglor_cz 305 days ago
        Knowing people and their preferences, the staircase will be empty, silent and slightly dusty.
        • badwolf 305 days ago
          Unfortunately, stairwells are often "emergency use only"
      • TheOtherHobbes 305 days ago
        Silence is not an option.

        Silence must be silenced.

    • irrational 305 days ago
      Well, thankfully about the only time I ever use an elevator is when I am traveling and stay at a hotel. So... about once every 2 years.
      • 411111111111111 305 days ago
        > about once every 2 years.

        I sincerely doubt it's only once, but your point stands i guess.

  • dunham 305 days ago
    The elevators at Legoland Hotel play typical boring elevator music when then doors are open and switch to something upbeat, like disco when the doors close.
    • InCityDreams 305 days ago
      Isn't that a 'does the refrigerator light go out when i close the door' thing?

      But i guess you mean when the doors are closed and there are people in the elevator. to know, how to know...

  • kaashif 305 days ago
    > Britain seems especially resistant to elevator music—again, based on a small sample size of responses to my queries. Some claim never to have heard music in an elevator in the UK, and I can’t say that surprises me.

    Seems accurate. I'm from the UK and I've never heard elevator music anywhere in my entire life. For the longest time, I thought it was actually just a thing in American movies.

    • seba_dos1 305 days ago
      Same in Poland. Took me a while to realize that "elevator music" isn't an abstract name of a genre but is actually related to elevators.
  • TrueSlacker0 305 days ago
    My guess would be music licencing is why it's gone. Too risky.

    It's one of the only places I've ever had to deal with, where if you play ANY music the big 3 consider it stolen (1 rift is enough according to them) and your legally guilty (USA), with no one ever winning a case against them. It's just pay to play, even with originals.

    • cortesoft 305 days ago
      I don't think so, because elevators played licensed music... in fact, the term Muzak is actually a brand name, and they produced music for use in elevators and businesses.

      • heelix 305 days ago
        Years back, finally realized the elevator in our office was doing a Muzak cover of Metallica's Enter Sandman. Hit me as funny once my brain connected the tune to the originating source.
        • fuzzfactor 304 days ago
          Decades ago I knew a piano player who got the gig at a nice atrium hotel piano bar.

          It was called Beethoven's and you had to be good, even though you were going to be playing instrumentals somewhat in the background. He didn't read music or play classical but he could play anything he heard, was wickedly good at faking it and amazed them at stealthily playing pop tunes in classical style.

          He would play from 4 to 8, five days a week.

          They had a beautifully-tuned well-polished Steinway featured in a corner area of the bar that was overlooking the open-air dining room below. The piano was on a little riser and the back walls were smoothly mirrorized other than a small stainless audio jackplate right near the piano stool.

          Every day he would come in wearing his tuxedo, sit down at the instrument, unplug the piped hotel Muzak from the jackplate, and plug himself into it instead.

          He could be kind of bold when taking requests from the bar patrons, but down in the dining area it was always a nice background effect.

          And of course when you used the elevators or the bathrooms, he was live for your listening pleasure.

          All beautiful, all music, all the time.

    • bobthepanda 305 days ago
      Stores continue to play music throughout without much issue.

      I think the answer might be a lot more mundane. Other posters mention that department stores were a big source of elevators that played music. Department stores in the US are mostly dead, and their physical replacements (big box stores like Target and Walmart) are single-story affairs, so they're playing music, just in buildings without elevators.

      • wildzzz 305 days ago
        If you want to play music in your business, you typically need a commercial license to do so. Spotify, for example, offers a commercial account that's more expensive and has most of the same catalog. Other streaming sites offer a similar plan. SiriusXM even offers you a way to insert your own audio clips in-between songs.
        • bobthepanda 305 days ago
          Right, my point is that department stores did similar stuff, the only difference is that department stores have elevators and big box stores are generally single-story, so the reason you don't hear music in elevators anymore is because there is no elevator to play the music in.
    • amelius 305 days ago
      Why don't they play ads with catchy melodies though? (Not that I would want that)

      After all, for a moment they have a monopoly on your attention.

      The same holds for public restrooms.

      • bobthepanda 304 days ago
        I think with public restrooms the issue would be association. You want advertising to produce positive associations, and I imagine most people have negative associations with public restrooms.
      • Ekaros 305 days ago
        Goal is throughput. You want people in and out fast and something interesting might combat that.
    • Ekaros 305 days ago
      I don't think licensing is real issue. The type of music and thus license would be different from other platforms. And getting one for specific use case with unlimited use likely wouldn't be that expensive.
    • AlbertCory 305 days ago
      No, the store just gets a license for commercial use. Muzak might have been among the first, with "light classics" like Andre Kostelanz.

      I do notice the background music at Trader Joe's. It's typically upbeat Boomer pop. If they played Ascension they'd empty out the store.

      • itisit 305 days ago
        Did not expect to see that namedrop this morning! “Kostelanetz” by the way.
        • AlbertCory 305 days ago
          tnx, it looked wrong but I was too lazy to look it up.
    • ginko 305 days ago
      When I travelled around East Asia (Korea, Taiwan, Japan) it felt like every second hotel breakfast buffet used the same album of Studio Ghibli piano covers.
  • bambax 305 days ago
    > How Did Elevators Lose Their Music?

    The question is asked, but not answered.

    Regarding the music itself, we get one mention of Brian Eno in the penultimate paragraph, as a side, and none of Erik Satie (who invented the genre in 1917 [0]).

    This is a kind of content-free article. Literature for elevators maybe.


    • whoopdedo 305 days ago
      If I were to take a broad swing at the reason I'd say the music covers the noise of the elevator. As they got quieter the music was made redundant.
      • scoopertrooper 305 days ago
        Quite possibly the reason. Though, I think retail, in general, has become quieter, outside of supermarkets (for some reason).

        In some ways, it feels like as visual aesthetics went minimalist, so did the soundscape.

        I'd personally like to hear an even quieter soundscape. It's so annoying to be sitting in a bar or hotel with sound blasting at you. It's like they expect people fear being alone with their thoughts or to be unable to make conversation when together, so they feel the need to fill the void.

    • jmeister 305 days ago
      Gioia is writing for an audience that already knows about the Eno/Satie genealogy.

      This article is the trend: “lose”

  • cube00 305 days ago
    But the gas station owners are less interested in providing music, and far more excited about the prospect of force-feeding me advertisements.

    Elevator owners are already there, the ones I use all have advertising screens in them just like the gas pumps.

    • function_seven 305 days ago
      These have been a thing for years and years now in Las Vegas. A little screen shouting ads at you for shows, restaurants, etc.

      Somehow it didn't bother me then, because everything in that godforsaken city is loud and obnoxious. So it just kinda fit in.

      But if elevators at typical office buildings or apartment complexes start doing this? We're doomed.

      • cube00 305 days ago
        Office buildings near me have them, they try to make them appear as "infotainment" to quote Otis in the article.

        A news headline and then ads for everything from food to cars to podcasts. Another headline, more ads.

        • function_seven 305 days ago
          Oh my god I forgot about that. Yeah, the high-rise my old company was in had those as well. A cheery, "Here's what's happening in the world" with some quick headlines, then an ad for Jimmy Fallon or something.

          We were on the 45th floor, so there was plenty of captive time.

          • hammock 305 days ago
            > We were on the 45th floor, so there was plenty of captive time.

            The biggest company that puts the TVs in elevators is literally called “Captivate.”

        • euroderf 305 days ago
          Helsinki city transit does that, and there's zero attempt at sync. So an interesting headline pops up, and then maybe about 500ms in it cuts to a wildly animated ad for some crap or another. So it's not just irritating, it is aggressively obnoxious. You wanted to read this story ? HAH HAH, sucker!
      • marssaxman 304 days ago
        > But if elevators at typical office buildings or apartment complexes start doing this? We're doomed.

        The high-rise building I worked in several years ago put ad screens in the elevators. No sound, fortunately - but still! Video ads in your face, on the way to work, on the way to lunch, up and down, over and over, every day? It was more than I could stand.

        I bought a roll of privacy film, cut pieces sized to the screens, and kept them in my bag. Every time I was alone in the elevator, I'd pull one out and glue it to the screen. Ahh, tranquility: the ads dissolved into a meaningless colorful blur.

        Of course the maintenance folks would scrape the film off whenever they found it, but I just glued it back on, over and over... for months.

      • BoredPuffin 305 days ago
        They already did this in commerical buildings in HK, luckily they are muted banner-like advertisements.
      • MonkeyMalarky 305 days ago
        Can't ride the subway or even take a piss without having a screen with ads running in your face.
        • iso1631 303 days ago
          Pisses me off in London. It costs say £2.50 to take a journey, but the adverts reduce that price to £2.30.

          Adverts on trains are even worse, I pay £100+ for a ticket and have to suffer the adverts because they want to get another 50p or whatever.

          So I'll drive instead. Although the M6 seems to have more and more adverts in fields along it as time does on.

          When I'm dictator of the world I'll ban all adverts, they are a drain on society.

        • djbusby 305 days ago
          Back in the day places used to clip daily-local newspaper above urinal. The "business" bars had WSJ.
    • dunham 305 days ago
      At the gas pumps around here (Seattle) someone is labelling the unmarked mute button with a marker (right side second button from the top).
      • WWLink 305 days ago
        I'm not sure what happened, but out here every single gas station got rid of that. Especially the screen above the pump.
      • djbusby 305 days ago
        Not always. Press them all till it stops.
        • ruined 305 days ago
          power drill also works
    • craz8 305 days ago
      Just this is reason enough to go EV and charge mostly at home. But you know the fast charger networks will try this - but it takes enough time to charge that the user walks away for coffee and bathrooms, so the audience is much less captive
    • mortenjorck 305 days ago
      My favorite thing about these is that the content network's brand name is Captivate. As in a literally captive audience.
    • nicbou 305 days ago
      "just like gas pumps"

      If your country doesn't have those (yet), it almost reads like satire.

  • xhevahir 305 days ago
    I read a book titled Elevator Music by Joseph Lanza and am sad to say that I don't remember much about it other than that slaughterhouses played elevator music for the cattle to calm them before the slaughter, and an anecdote about an orchestra conductor who yelled at a hotel manager words to the effect of, "I'm trying to make my musicians more sensitive to music, not less!"

    Edit: I forgot that the book also mentions a German category, Gebrauchsmusik, or utility music:

  • shever73 305 days ago
    > According to a white paper shared by Otis Elevator, the vertical transportation of the future will be able to recognize you as soon as you step onboard

    I am unavoidably reminded of Sirius Cybernetics Corporation’s Happy Vertical People Transporters.

    • taneq 305 days ago
      Is that how you like it, Mr. Beeblebrox?!!!!
  • mortenjorck 305 days ago
    When I lived in a 50+ story high-rise, I always liked to imagine subtle MIDI versions of Creed's "Higher" playing on the way up and Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" playing on the way down. Especially on the way to and from the laundry room ~40 floors away from my apartment.
  • kodah 305 days ago
    > I’ve consulted the websites of various elevator manufacturers, and am pleased to learn that they are planning next generation music for our high-rise journeys. According to a white paper shared by Otis Elevator, the vertical transportation of the future will be able to recognize you as soon as you step onboard, and “the lighting, music or infotainment in the elevator cab will be tuned exactly to your preferences.”

    Time to start lobbying making privacy masks for the public. For now, my COVID mask will do.

    • SllX 305 days ago
      > Time to start lobbying making privacy masks for the public.

      It’s called a Guy Fawkes mask.

      • Vecr 305 days ago
        Preferably a home made one, right? If you get the one from the film they either need to pay for the rights or it's an unlicensed knockoff. Not sure either is that great.
        • stop50 305 days ago
          They existed before the film. There are no royalitie, especially since the owner died a long time ago. Anyone who wants royalities is ripping you off.
        • SllX 305 days ago
          How you source your privacy protecting Guy Fawkes masks is between you, your God, a hacker named 4chan and the NSA who is probably listening in. I on the other hand don’t particularly care.
  • spike021 305 days ago
    I wouldn't mind if elevator music was specially-made similarly to how Japanese train stations have (mostly) their own special chimes.

    Obviously not every single elevator should have its own chime, but maybe regional or some other distinguishing factor could play a role.

    • wizofaus 305 days ago
      I think I'd go mad if I had to listen to the sort of music played at Japanese train stations on a regular basis. Which is odd because a lot of Japanese TV dramas have excellent background music, so there's no shortage of talent or capacity to produce it. OTOH what's with the sound effects on Japanese comedy shows (there's only about 2 or 3 such effects, clearly designed to induce auditory nerve damage, and they're used unsparingly in almost every such show).
    • inglor_cz 305 days ago
      Some Czech railway stations have short chimes inspired by local folk songs.
  • sammalloy 305 days ago
    Tangential trivia that this reminded me about: there was a trend in Hollywood cinema for a while with scenes that would use background music playing in offices or elevators to heighten the drama before a fight or conflict. I think it started with films in the 1960s or 1970s.
  • 14 305 days ago
    Sounds like this would be a fun project to implement with a Raspberry Pi and cheap speaker and a sensor to detect someone in the elevator and just stick it to the roof in a little enclosure and play some music. Would be more fun if you added a camera and got footage of people’s reaction to music suddenly in the elevator.
  • t_mann 305 days ago
    Let's cherish the time until building operators realize that elevators are a good place to play ads.
    • maguay 305 days ago
      Already started; saw one with advertisement screens in a condo building recently in Bangkok. I would find that deeply annoying if I were a resident and paying the building maintenance fees and still had to watch ads every day.
    • saurik 305 days ago
      I miss not having ads while pumping gas :(.
      • mcculley 305 days ago
        Nothing makes me want an electric car more than this trend.
  • silisili 305 days ago
    I'm nearly 40 and don't remember elevators in my area of the US ever having music. Oddly enough, I knew what it was - my parents told me the music playing at department stores was elevator music. So guessing it faded out somewhere between our two generations?
    • jmclnx 305 days ago
      I do nor even remember the last time I heard music in an elevator, But I think it started disappearing in the late 70s to the early 80s.
  • BoredPuffin 305 days ago
    The question is not How, but Why. In the world of non-stop info/commerical bombardment, maybe it's great to have a few seconds of silence?

    Also don't forget the entire idea could be a diminishing return - the better the technology, the shorter the time.

    If Otis intentionally lengthening trip time so that they can feed more entertainment until a state-level regulation comes in place, I would start to suspect they've hired Zuckerberg.

    I guess I don't need to mention the privacy concerns and consumer rights, considering this is HN.

    p.s. the author never heard music in Britain's elevator because elevator = conveyor belt, the little box thing that carry people up and down a building? It's called a "lift" (sorry I'll see myself out...)

    • euroderf 305 days ago
      Sorry but "a few seconds of silence" is the enemy. Likewise for air travel nowadays, as wi-fi colonizes that space. A moment to meditate ? There's gotta be a way to monetize it.

      "Silence(TM) - Ask for it by name! Not available in stores."

  • moomoo11 305 days ago
    Why not read my mood instead and use the best ambient lighting so I feel better? Something that could work for anyone and isn’t all that bad or intrusive. Why can’t we have nice tech lol
  • latchkey 305 days ago
  • mherdeg 305 days ago
    Most of the elevator music I remember is designed to be memorable.

    Riding the elevator in the LAX Theme Building, up to the dearly missed Encounter rotating restaurant, it sounded like you were going on a space trip to visit a 1960s starship. (Looked this up just now and I guess it was more of a Jetsons vibe? )

  • zw123456 305 days ago
    I recall one time, some years ago, I cannot remember exactly but I remember going to a meeting in a high rise with some co-workers and others, we get on the elevator together and there is a Muzak version of Devo playing, I could not help cracking up. People asked me what was so funny, I commented the Muzak was a cover of Devo. No one knew what I was talking about.
    • boondaburrah 305 days ago
      I feel just like people become unable to see any image on a website that happens to be exactly the dimensions of a banner advert, if they hear muzak every day, they probably don't even notice /anything/ is playing if it's using the same midi instruments/sound profile. It's just adblocked noise.
    • masterofmisc 305 days ago
      Devo? Never heard of them but thanks. Youve just introduced me and love it.
    • happycube 305 days ago
      It might have been intentional - Devo made their own Muzak-y versions (E-Z Listening Disk)
  • skc 305 days ago
    It's quite interesting that the term "elevator music" is still commonly used to negatively describe otherwise newly released music that one finds boring.

    I wonder if younger people who have never experienced elevator music ever wonder where the term came from or is it descriptive enough that they're able to put two and two together.

    • m1gu3l 305 days ago
      Mallsoft and lighter forms of vaporwave have stepped in as replacements.
  • benj111 305 days ago
    >I will leave it to others to analyze what aspect of the British national character leads to this hostility to background songs.

    Something, something, uncomfortable social awkwardness, being trapped in a confined space, and the music just highlighting the social awkwardness and lack of escape.

    Plus how can you talk about the weather, if the music is drowning it out?

  • pwython 305 days ago
    As someone born in '83 in the US, I can't ever recall a time I've heard actual "elevator music" in an elevator. However, nowadays you might hear a jam like "Sweet Home Alabama" in a Casino/Hotel elevator. Going up to your room? No no, Lynyrd Skynyrd wants you to keep the party going at the slots!
  • notjulianjaynes 305 days ago
    Elevator music with targeted ads is exactly the concept of James Ferraro's album Far Side Virtual.

  • KingOfCoders 305 days ago
    I will never forget the calming elevator music from System Shock.
  • nix23 305 days ago
    What is Muzak? (Elevator Music):

  • quickthrower2 305 days ago
    I was on holiday recently with a resort that had elevator (aka lift) music and I just found it annoying. It played the same tune everytime.
  • havblue 305 days ago
    I suspect the current silent elevators will be mostly replaced by lobby advertisements that are already in a decent number of elevators.
  • noSyncCloud 305 days ago
    Can you imagine a world where every elevator you boarded started playing anodyne muzak? That world is coming.
  • Jenz 305 days ago
    Obligatory mention of music intended for the elevators of the french ministry of culture [1].