posted by Zach Patton

When you call your city government and get put on hold, you usually brace yourself for an onslaught of Olivia Newton John's "I Honestly Love You" or a synthesized version of "Girl from Ipanema."

But callers to Seattle's city hall may actually find themselves asking to be put on hold: the city's call system now features music snippets from cool local bands. The genres range from jazz to salsa to the Japanese zither; 11 bands are included in all, and the playlist changes every few months.

It gets cooler: the system, called OnHold, directs callers to a city-run site where they can download podcasts of the bands or order CD's from Amazon or CDBaby.com. And a percentage of the proceeds goes to the city to help fund arts education programs.

It's a fantastic idea, but so far Seattle's program seems to be the first in the nation. City officials from Los Angeles and San Francisco have expressed interest, but the idea is just begging to be picked up by other cities as well.

It's a no-brainer for places like Nashville, Austin, Chicago, Memphis and New York. But it would work well anywhere with local musicians looking for exposure (uhh, everywhere), and a city looking for a little revenue boost (also everywhere).