No, it doesn’t stand for “Bee Gees Music.” If you thought that, you’re probably as old as I am.

It stands for “background music,” and if you’re used to working in an office, you’ve probably heard of it or used it. Now of course, record numbers of people are working from home. That doesn’t mean the need for background music has faded away, though

It’s not all radio anymore

Most folks don’t really like silence, even when they are working and concentrating?

The standard choice in the past has been the radio. After all, it’s free music, and there have been plenty of stations designed for office listening. But, there are at heart two issues with listening to the radio at work. First of all regardless of what they say, there isn’t one station that makes everyone in the office happy. Second, although you’re not likely to get caught, it is technically illegal to play the radio in a workplace where it could be construed as contributing to the company’s profit.

Licensed music isn’t that good

Whether you call it elevator music or refer to it by the name of the largest company to provide it (Muzak), licensed background music really isn’t that good. It’s designed to provide a gentle experience that isn’t offensive to anyone. Of course that means no one really likes it either. Licensed background music is just designed to fill a room with something that isn’t silence.

Music Choice

If you have satellite TV or some other pay-TV solution in your office, you can choose a Music Choice channel that’s free for your use. These are commercial-free stations that can legally be played in public areas. Generally the song selection is better than Muzak, although again you run into the same problem. Not everyone is going to like the same things.

Enter the headphones

In today’s offices, it’s common to see every person with a headphone or headset, bopping out to the music that only they can see. This is easier now than in past years because of services like Spotify that provide never-ending mixes of music. Fifteen years ago, if you wanted to have a day’s worth of music, you needed to load up your own iPod, and even with 500 hours of music — assuming you owned that much — you’d get sick of it quickly.

But the problem comes back — how can you find some enjoyable music that isn’t distracting while you’re working?


BGM is music that’s designed to help you get through the day. It’s low-key and still enjoyable. Think of it as elevator music that’s customized for your preferences. Here, this is one of the BGM videos you can find:

If that’s not your cup of tea (or cup of coffee) there are plenty of other choices. You can find BGM on most streaming audio services, just by searching for BGM. It’s a great compromise between traditional music and that really weak elevator music.

And honestly, even if you’re at home, you might want to try it. Working from home can be pretty isolating and this might help the day go by better than leaving the TV on.


About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.