Seniors silence the music in their favourite store

Seniors silence the music in their favourite store


norman lebrecht

June 01, 2016

Marks & Spencer are to stop playing music in response to protests from older customers.

Read here.

A spokesman from Pipedown said: “Millions of customers will be delighted by this news. So will thousands, probably tens of thousands, of people working in M&S who have had to tolerate non-stop music not of their choice all day for years.”

However John Munroe, a senior external events advisor at the British Retail Consortium, which represents retailers in the UK, said most shops taking the decision to cut music were doing so for “cost purposes” as the cost of providing music is increasing.  

He added that older customers with impaired hearing and dementia may prefer shopping in outlets where there is no background music. 



  • rita says:

    I don’t understand the emphasis on the aged here: I have been walking out of shops without purchasing anything, driven away by noise, my whole life! 10 to 1 the “cost purposes” are the real reason: whatever it is, thank heavens for it! I’m also sure the noise levels in many shops are above EU guidelines, but these days the staff just have to cower down and endure it.

    • Olassus says:

      Starbucks is the worst.

    • Jane Susanna ENNIS says:

      I do take your point about being old…..I AM old, but I have always complained about noise in public places. I never go to pubs now, because I don’t see the point. … go to the pub to have a drink and a CHAT with your friends, this is usually impossible.

    • Holly Golightly says:

      Absolutely! Same here. Just as recently as yesterday I walked out of a store, telling the manager I’d have bought something but felt the need to flee quickly because of the noise.

  • Robert King says:

    Some years ago TKC did a long tour at Christmas involving a lot of flights on the same national airline. On every flight we were assailed with gruesomely tacky arrangements of Christmas carols. Getting onto a plane at 7.00am for the fourth day running and hearing this dross was just too much. So I went up to the front of the plane and spoke to the cabin attendant:
    “Please could you turn this music off”.
    “But the passengers like it”.
    Quick thinking (for 7.00am). “Do you believe in democracy?”
    “But of course, sir”.
    “Then please may we have a vote on this?”
    Slightly baffled cabin service director agreed, not knowing that TKC’s choir and orchestra had filled almost the entire forward cabin.
    “Ladies and gentlemen, hands up who would like the music turned off”
    Every single hand in the aircraft cabin went up.
    Cabin service director got a huge cheer as the aircraft fell wonderfully silent.

  • Stephen says:

    I don’t see what “impaired hearing” and “dementia” have to do with the problem. If a person has impaired hearing (unless he has hyperacusia) he will be less bothered by the musak than other customers. As to someone with dementia, in many cases he/she won’t be aware of what is going on anyway.

    • Bruce says:

      (a) hyperacusia of various levels, diagnosed or not, is probably more common than we think. I am bothered by loud sounds more than most people I know, for example.
      (b) persons with dementia may become agitated by the “wrong” kind of music, even if they are pretty much without marbles.

  • Phil says:

    Good news indeed. I’ve walked out of many stores and restaurants rather than listen to music which is designed for the under 30s or people who don’t listen to their surroundings. I am now faintly ‘senior’ (65) but I’ve been doing this for years.
    Now can we increase the pressure on television producers to cut the dreadfully intrusive music from so many otherwise enjoyable programmes? I live in hope.

    • Max Grimm says:

      There are a fair few of us under 30s that don’t care for the music being blasted in shops and restaurants either (regardless of style and genre).

    • Holly Golightly says:

      I have ceased watching modern documentaries altogether because of horrendous so-called music and endless, computer-generated sound effects. The incalculable damage to the hearing of people who go to those mindless films which employ same will be obvious within just a couple of decades. You can feel the vibration outside the cinemas!!

      In the next decades we can expect the use much more frequently of that four-lettered word, “what”? In the meantime, we should all vote with our feet or remote controls.

      What does it tell us about the collective IQ, for god’s sake??!!

  • John G. DEACON says:

    John Munroe is talking total PIFFLE (there’s much of it about during this referendum time, but this is a new stream). The majority, opinion polls show, either hate muzak or do not notice it and these two groups amount to over 65%. Gatwick airport’s opinion poll (77,000) confirmed this view and they shut down the muzak. Even Alicante has now done so.

    On the matter of costs one can be sure this airport were delighted to understand the majority opinion and doubtless the M&S accountants felt the same. It is said that they saved themselves £500 a day. But we members of Pipedown have been bombarding shops and restaurants for many years to give up this musical barbarism. We have just suffered 3 breakfasts at the Gatwick Marriott – you really don’t wanna go there.

    We now have “Comer sin ruido” based in Madrid in an attempt to calm the barbaric eating habits in Spain but to suppress the thumping junk we suffer here will be a long battle.

    Well done M&S – I might now make my 1st visit. I hope other shops and restaurants are aware of this very welcome action.

  • Rosana says:

    I have always disliked “forced” music since childhood without suffering from hearing impairment nor dementia. With time I’ve taken to avoiding establishments playing loud, unpleasant music. Bravo, M&S!

  • David Hill says:

    M&S are almost certainly seeking to avoid the charges imposed by the PRS, the dreaded Performing Rights Society, whose operatives act like thugs imposing what amounts to a protection racket upon every business in the country. The PRS literally threaten with prosecution small businesses, by mail and telephone. They particularly enjoy coercion by telephone, since they can record the conversation, and if they detect music in the background, have proof that enables them to impose their tariffs, and the business is powerless against them. Such businesses may only consist of one person working alone at home, but who might have Radio 4 on in the background, yet they attempt to intimidate even them into paying for a licence for ‘permission’ to carry on listening to Radio 4, or for playing their own CDs. The PRS are loathed by businesses across the UK. This is bound to be the main reason for the M&S ban on Muzak. The M&S decision is good news, since other businesses will now be encouraged to fight back against them.

  • Gerald Martin says:

    Does anyone here remember being driven out of a record store by the blasting rock music played by the college-aged clerks?