If you can recall a time you entered an elevator and heard the dulcet tones of “Elevator King” Kenny G, chances are you are over 30, as music speakers have rarely been installed for over 20 years.
That’s according to Kevin Berg, Cab Interior Manager at Richmond Elevator. He says that while once all the rage, elevator music is now very rare.
“It’s just not getting requested. Occasionally we’ll add systems in, like for BC Ferries, for announcements, but typically it’s not being requested.”
He agrees that the term “elevator music” is part of cultural reference but says clients just aren’t requesting speakers built into the elevators.
“I’ve been doing this for close to 20 years, there have been thousands of elevators and we’ve put very few speakers in them,” he says.
Alex Beaulne, Engineering Manager at Kone, one of the world’s leading elevator companies concurs.
“Everyone’s got different music styles and with mobile phones everyone’s listening to their own music anyways,” he says.
There could be other reasons too, such as music use rights, interference with intercom safety announcements and cost. Speaker systems are relatively inexpensive but music systems aren’t wireless and the speaker cable usually has to run from the ground floor.
“Three or four floors it’s [the cost] not a problem, but 60 floors is an issue,” notes Berg.
Lift design has also changed over the years with handsets and on-hold music being replaced with an inbuilt microphone, autodiallers and recorded messages.
An additional reason in the change is music can interfere with the communication and safety of some disabled users.
Both engineers say they don’t believe elevator music will make a comeback in the future.
So if you enjoy a good saxophone solo, be sure to bring your phone and a pair of headphones to recreate the now-lost experience of soaring up a building on a wave of easy-listening good-time tunes.