People telephoning Doncaster Council and being put on hold are hearing more up-to-date music – but at a cost to local taxpayers.
The authority is paying the Performing Rights Society about £1,000 a year to soothe callers who can’t get through straight away.
Doncaster is one of a handful of authorities to have ditched traditional ‘hold’ music in favour of easy-listening chart songs, which require royalty payments to the PRS.
A Freedom of Information Act request to 150 authorities found the 120 who replied paid nearly £6.5 million between them to the PRS during a three-and-a-half-year period.
At least a dozen authorities have also paid royalties for their hold music, costing up to £300,000 between them since January 2010.
Royalty-free pieces by classical composers were also popular with councils – with Mozart the most frequently heard composer.
Doncaster Council spends about £1,000 a year on hold music, with customers greeted with songs, including tracks by American pop star Christina Perri and swing singer Michael Buble’s I Just Haven’t Met You Yet.
Mayor Ros Jones said: “We have only just started using more varied and up-to-date music for customers to listen to when on hold or waiting for a response on the phone.
“This has been done to respond to feedback from customers. We regularly use feedback to improve the experience of our customers while ensuring a value-for-money approach.”
Most authorities use either a royalty-free track built into their phone system or leave customers waiting in silence.