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Personally, I dislike it on a business website unless it's a website for a musical act. If there's a button to turn off the music and/or skip a flash intro, I always use it. If there's no such option, the music can drive me away (which was probably not the designer's desire or intent, but it's the actual result).
Only in a very few limited circumstances does this work effectively. Otherwise you end up with the scenario where the extra bandwidth consumed irritates the visitor and they simply leave the site.
If a company has specific sonic branding using it in some select parts of the site can work really well to further the integration of that branding. It is a terribly delicate balance though since too little may go unnoticed, but too much is an annoyance.
As for general background music it is rarely a good idea. For most businesses it is most appropriate to do everything to minimize bandwidth overhead and simply have a crisp page that loads very quickly on a number of devices almost entirely independent of connectivity of the user.
Amy, You know what happened to "Curious" ??
I agree with Lighthouse. Most times background music is annoying and also turn it off or lower the sound.
There are exceptions like Valentine or Birthday cards or something with a mystery.
LightHouse is right, background music should be use only on brand name site, music sites, or design sites but not for e-commerce.
Don't forget if you put a music file, it will be take more time to load for visitors. I did some fun loops with my program FL Studio (Producer XXL vers) :-)
This is generally a big "no no" in web design for the reasons mentioned above (extra bandwidth usage slows the loading of your site, uncontrollable sound loops irritate those trying to READ your content, and when clicking to a new page... the sound loop usually starts over!)
When using multimedia presentations such as video or some animation it is OK to use, but it should always be controllable! In this case, less is more!
Just reiterating what was already said here!
No way! I'm often listening to music or a podcast talkshow when I'm doing web work, and having a website's music intrude on me is annoying. If I don't need to keep the page open, I'll close it.
In my humble opinion, having music and flash only increases the time to load your web site and detracts from your site's content.
In an age that consumers are quick to click off a site, creating any distraction from your site's message would not be a wise move.
Note: Look at iTunes - no music until you click on a song preview...
I never stick around to find what is on the website when the irritating music starts playing. But of course that's just me and I have no patience with extemporaneous things that are out of context.
As a jingle composer (Pepsi, NBC, MTV) and web developer with various clients, I agree that in general music on a website is annoying and is usually tasteless and pointless. No different than an advertisement on TV or radio with some generic and pointless music. But...imagine Coke or McDonalds without many of their great jingles through the years. GREAT MUSIC MATTERS.
Yes, as a music composer I am biased but the fact is, your brand can linger in the mind of a visitor or customer with an APPROPRIATE musical or sound identity. No different than a visual logo. As proof that "short jingles" work - think NBC or t-Mobile. VERY quick and simple but they work.
Besides traditional music services, my company, www.epicsoul.com offers "Web Jingles" which help you brand your company with 4 to 10 second jingles or sound identities that you can play on your website or in videos or in PodCasts. Rates are affordable and you can license or buy-out. Start with an affordable web jingle and then after you get some traction, you could grow it into a longer form jingle for a radio or TV spot.
Check out our work at www.epicsoul.com
I think it depends on the business. If you are a business that promotes fashion, travel or anything fun -- I think adding a touch of background music will add to the visitors experience. On the other hand, if you are running a more professional type firm background music probably isn't a good idea.