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lady listening to music

HMRC hold music gets a much-needed remix


Growing increasingly fed up with HMRC’s infamous hold music, Loud and Clear Accounting’s Claire Owen-Jones decided to flex her creative muscles. 

22nd Sep 2022
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From its jangling guitar melody to its monotonous synth line, the majority of accountancy professionals will be all-too-familiar with HMRC’s infamous hold music. In a profession that finds itself constantly liaising with the tax authority, it’s no surprise that many practitioners find the music, shall we say, a little grating. 

“Typing this whilst on hold to HMRC (yet again). The hold music now leaves me on edge, like nails down a blackboard,” wrote Any Answers regular gainsborough in a post from last year, with others in the thread expressing their own disdain for the ditty. 

Claire Owen-Jones of Loud and Clear Accounting sympathises with her fellow accountants, admitting that she too has grown to despise the Revenue's hold music. 

“Since Covid, it’s been a case of spending so much time listening to it for long periods, and the fact that if you don’t phone [HMRC] between eight and nine o'clock in the morning, you might as well not bother,” Owen-Jones said.

“For me, it was not necessarily a case of the music itself, but it's more the knowing why you're on hold and the length of time you have to listen to it that really got to me.”

The creative spark

Owen-Jones’ feelings towards HMRC’s hold music is likely something that many of our readers can relate to. However, rather than letting her irritation get the better of her, she decided to get creative and thus, ‘Music for Accountants’ was born.

“It started at the beginning of the summer holidays. I think I had a particularly large batch of annoying things to correct with HMRC and I just had that moment of thinking, ‘what if actually as accountants we really loved this hold music to the point where we try to filter it into our everyday life?” she said. 

And it was from here that she set out to remix and rework HMRC’s tune into something more palatable for herself and her friends. Starting out with a jazz-infused version of the music, more remixes would soon follow, helping Owen-Jones to “reset” the way she felt about the original score when stuck on hold.

“It then moved on to ‘what if we remixed the song for a club?’ ‘what if there was HMRC the Movie?’ and it ended up becoming a kind of 'escapism project' over the summer. It helped me reset my emotional response to this music before I head into Autumn. 

The jam session

Of course, creating a whopping 21 remixes of the same song spanning multiple genres is no easy task, so Owen-Jones set out to work with other musicians to pull this mammoth project together. 

“I would decide what type of music I wanted, find musicians who specialised in that genre, try and explain to them what I was looking for and then finally leave them to work their magic,” Owen-Jones said.

And while the idea quickly moved from a fun proposition to full project management, Owen-Jones found real enjoyment in working with other creatives to see what they would produce. 

“I would wonder what it'd be like if HMRC was in a retro game and then someone would come back with either it being exactly as I imagined or something completely different. Part of the excitement of this project for me was seeing how someone could take this bad recording and turn it into something that could be far more joyful.” 

Releasing the album

And while the project was started for, in her words, “primarily selfish reasons,” Owen-Jones quickly found that others were resonating with the idea after sharing it with her fellow accountants.

“I started sharing the songs with my accountant friends and they seemed to really like it as well. Then a couple of them asked ‘what would a punk version sound like?’ and it got to the point of thinking 'maybe I'll share it on social media,’ because I'm sure I'm not the only person who's a bit frustrated.”

One listener who likely hasn’t enjoyed Owen-Jones' foray into the music scene is her eight-year-old son who Owen-Jones says has spent just as much time at the mercy of HMRC's music as she has. 

“We've had these remixes on in the car or when doing the dishes, and when it comes on he’ll say ‘please, Mummy, not that song anymore.’ So I’ve become a bit of an embarrassing parent as well, as I can irritate him with my music choices - but it also leads to a little bit more bonding.”

Asking about the future of this burgeoning musical project, Owen-Jones said to watch this space and that she’s hoping HMRC will get in touch later down the road. 

“If the music changes, I might have to do the whole thing again. That might be my difficult album number two!”

You can listen to the full 'Music for Accountants' playlist here.


Replies (8)

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By May bee
23rd Sep 2022 09:12

Absolutely fantastic! An entertaining interlude for a Friday morning!

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By euanjohn
23rd Sep 2022 09:19

Maybe HMRC ought to play a mix of appropriate songs. I suggest "Take Your Time" by Sam Hunt, "Get it right first time" by Billy Joel, or for anything to do with MTD, "Send in the Clowns" by Stephen Sondheim.

Thanks (2)
By SteveOH
23rd Sep 2022 09:48

Now *that's* more like it.
I answered a previous post saying that, if they played "Stairway to Heaven", I wouldn't mind being on hold for 8 minutes at a time.

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Replying to SteveOH:
paddle steamer
26th Sep 2022 11:43

If they do an extended "Free Bird" you can hold for 12 minutes.

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By Crouchy
27th Sep 2022 09:13

Its the style of the horse of the year show theme, marvellous

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By Anthony G Thorne
27th Sep 2022 10:24

How about "I can't get no satisfaction"

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By kevinringer
27th Sep 2022 10:33

Why are we suggesting individual songs? With hold times approaching an hour, we should be suggesting whole albums. I was on hold for 80 minutes a couple of weeks ago: enough time for a double album.

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By snickersinatwix
10th Jan 2023 12:13

Just been on hold to the agent "Help line"

The old music is back.

They are playing games with my head................

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