From our perspective in history it is surprising to learn that Alexander Graham Bell at first thought his new invention would be primarily a medium of entertainment rather than personal communication. Within a year after the first successful voice transmission, Bell used the telephone to transmit music. The first transmission of stereophonic sound was demonstrated at the Paris Electrical Exposition of 1881 using the telephone.
Several opera companies in Europe subsequently experimented with using telephone lines to transmit live performances to remote locations. The city of Budapest, until the 1920s, made available news, music, and theater performances through its municipal telephone network.
I recount these rather obscure historical oddities to make two points. First, the experiment of using the telephone to transmit music has been tried. Second, it failed. If you want to know why it failed, call my local cable TV company. Or for that matter, any of a dozen other organizations I could name, including airline travel agencies, government offices and even telephone companies.
I mention the cable company because it is an extreme case of the two-tiered approach to customer relations. If you call for the express purpose of spending money, the customer is always right. If you call about a service or billing problem, the customer must always wait. (I put this to the test not long ago. When I called this company and asked for the billing office I waited for five minutes and 17 seconds and listened to the "We're sorry but all our lines are busy right now . . . but don't hang up or you'll lose your place in line" message repeated four times. After concluding my business, I immediately called back and asked for the department in charge of new service: "Hello, this is Doris, may I help you?")