‘Speak Easy’ Campaign launched by Action on Hearing Loss

Action on Hearing Loss (formerly the RNID) has launched its Speak Easy Campaign, aiming to make it easier for people with or without  hearing loss to talk in restaurants, pubs and cafés. After surveying 1,500 people  with or without  hearing loss, they found that 76% of respondents said they would visit restaurants, pubs and cafés  more often if noise levels were lower, 80% said they have left a place early because of noise levels and 91% said ‘they would not return to a venue they considered too noisy’.

The charity is looking at many aspects of noise reduction. This includes making decors more sound absorbent. Today, due to the current fashion for ‘hard’ industrial style surfaces, the decor in many places reflects and increases noise rather than reducing it. Piped music remains much the biggest single source of needless and unwanted noise in most places (the hubbub of general conversation is after all a sign of a genuinely popular pub/café/restaurant.). Pipedown is collaborating with AHL on this campaign. So spread the word about their timely  initiative   https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/SpeakEasyReport


Elizabeth Hunter of Ann Arbor, Michigan, has just launched a local US chapter of Pipedown, and has held her first meeting. She welcomes support from across the USA and Canada, but especially in her region, as she stresses that she aims to focus on regional problems. Do contact her at zetlir@gmail.com if you live nearby.

If you live anywhere near Colorado, contact Charles Wetherbee, the renowned violinist, who is thinking of starting a chapter of Pipedown in his part of the world. charles.wetherbee@colorado.edu


Post a note about a place’s muzac-free/muzac-fouled status on Trip Advisor

With the holiday season now starting, many people will glance at Trip Advisor to check up on a hotel or restaurant. If you have recently visited a place free of piped music – or conversely one polluted to the rafters with it – say so clearly and prominently on Trip Advisor. If enough people praise a place for not having piped music, or conversely criticise it for having it, this should encourage the managers concerned to go or to remain muzac-free. All power to the customer!

Click on the link below.


Marks and Spencer stops its piped music!

From Wednesday 1st  June all branches of Marks and Spencer will be free of piped music, following a decision by its executive. ‘We’ve listened to customer feedback, and the licence to play music in all our stores has now been cancelled with effect from 1st June 2016′  said Gary Bragg. This decision, which will save Marks and Spencer money, is the result of years and years  of determined campaigning by Pipedowners and other people, who have refused to be fobbed off with bland dismissals. Marks and Spencer remains the UK’s biggest chain store, a national institution. So this is a great day for all campaigners for freedom from piped music.

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. Congratulate the management, especially the new CEO Steve Rowe,  by emailing M&S at chairman@customersupport.marksandspencer.com

Now we can shop in peace!


A new inner group of Pipedowners is being set up to campaign more vigorously. It aims to recruit a smallish number of members who have the time and energy to respond rapidly  whenever alerted to a new issue, threat or opportunity. By emailing or tweeting  concertedly, even small numbers of us can have a real impact.  If you are interested in joining the Happy Few  (and also a member),  contact Pipedown at newpipedown@btinternet.com   All email addresses will be treated as confidential.

Congratulate Steve Rowe head of M&S on giving up its muzac, and ASDA on its Quiet Hour Experiment


Steve Rowe has just become the new CEO of Marks and Spencer. He has marked his new approach by announcing that from 1st June all branches will be stopping their piped music. They have ‘listened to customer feedback’ and come to a sane decision. Congratulate him by writing to 

 steve.rowe@marks-and-spencer.com   or try the chairman Robert Swannell robert.swannell@marks-and-spencer.com

The postal address is: Marks & Spencer Group plc, Waterside House, 35 North Wharf Road, LONDON W2 1NW  

And congratulate ASDA, a notoriously muzac-polluted chain. It is experimenting with having one Quiet Hour per week (on Saturday) when all the music, televisions and even escalators will be turned off in one of their Manchester stores for the benefit of autistic customers. Urge them to extend the experiment  to all their other stores and other times, and to consider making such quiet universal (though escalators do need to run.) The person to write to is Andy Clarke andy.clarke@asda.co.uk

New Zealand Pipedown starting up?

Susan Davis is hoping to start up a New Zealand Pipedown. It is very early days yet for the new group so please contact Pipedown UK   newpipedown@btinternet.com  for her e-mail address if you live in – or often visit – New Zealand and would like to be involved. We can then send you her contact details.

And remember: Charles Wetherbee, the renowned violinist, is considering co-founding Pipedown USA. If you live in the USA or Canada and hate piped music, contact him  charles.wetherbee@colorado.edu


Halifax & Shropshire local groups starting up

Kenneth Close is starting up a local group based in Halifax (in Yorkshire, not Canada NB.)  Members living in or anywhere near Halifax who are interested can contact him at kc@close22.orangehome.co.uk   (Membership of the group is of course free to Pipedowners.) Yorkshire Pipedowners: join Kenneth Close and start rolling back piped music in Yorks!



And Phil Fairclough who lives near Telford in Shropshire is also interested in getting a local group up and running. Contact him at  faircloughpatricia@gmail.com if you live in or near Shropshire. 

As the amazing progress of the Quiet Edinburgh & Glasgow group in recent years shows, local groups can make a real impact. They allow members to meet (even if only electronically), discuss local issues and take local action – something Pipedown UK itself cannot do.  By meeting and talking to other Pipedowners living nearby, members realise they are not lone voices but make up a large section of the general population maddened by piped music. Mutual encouragement and support is far more feasible at local, rather than national, level.



Quieter shopping malls: the Birmingham Experiment

The Bullring in Birmingham, home to one of Britain’s largest shopping malls, has been experimenting with quieter music. For years pounding pop music has filled almost every corner and shoppers, of all ages and tastes, have had to tolerate it or leave. Now an experiment by Hammerson, which runs several shopping malls across Britain and is thinking of phasing out music because of its effect on shoppers, has shown that replacing clamourous loud music with softer ambient music – not blended ‘muzak’ but a sound closer to the sea – influences shoppers positively. They move less rapidly and seem to spend more. The results are still tentative but suggest that less noise equals more sales, at least initially. Pipedowners might prefer no background music at all but this sea music is better than, say, canned Vivaldi and certainly an improvement. But it would be interesting to see the effects of no music at all. Julian Treasure, chairman of the Sound Agency, is involved in the experiment.

see http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-35154100

Waterstones goes (mostly) muzac-free – but needs to be encouraged to remain so.

Thanks in part to pressure from Pipedowners and in part to the preferences of James Daunt its head, the booksellers Waterstones is now muzac-free in 205 of its 287 branches. James Daunt wants each Waterstones branch to decide its own policies, so he only encourages managers to drop the music, he does not demand. However, there has been the odd negative reaction to the new Quiet Shopping policy. Some shoppers have reportedly complained about the lack of canned music in their shops, normally when the branch in question is in a shopping mall already filled with music. One branch in Birmingham has recently reinstated piped music, perhaps as a result. To encourage Waterstones to persist with their quiet policy, congratulate the staff in each quiet branch and hand over a blue card saying  ‘Thank you for not having music.’ (Available free to members for an SAE.) Better still, write to James Daunt himself to urge him to continue his no-muzac policy and to congratulate him on revitalising Waterstones at james.daunt@waterstones.com