Music While We Work
Music plays a huge part in our lives! Some of our staff talk through the kind of music they listen to while working.
The music I listen to varies a lot depending on both my mood and what kind of tasks I need to get done.
When I’m writing, I find it helps to not have any lyrics in the music. I’ve long been a fan of instrumental music from video games (such as Final Fantasy X), and have also been exploring Spotify playlists based on mood/purpose to discover more.
On the other end of the scale, if I’m doing some tasks that might be a bit repetitive and methodical, I pick something that gives me more energy. Knife Party is a bit of a guilty pleasure for this!
I also love a good rain/weather soundscape! Some years ago I discovered the website called “Rainy Mood”. The website has a looping rain soundtrack which is great on its own, but they also have a great collection of music (via embedded YouTube videos) to add to the rain. It’s helped me discover even more music to listen to!
When I want some more control and variation for soundscapes, I use Rain Rain App on my phone. They let you pick up to three different sounds to put into a mix at one time. For example: a thunderstorm, a tumble dryer, and a washing machine, for some “rainy day at home” vibes. You can change the volume levels of each one, and they’ve included the ability to oscillate the sounds!
As of May 2020, I’ve recently discovered the music streaming community on Twitch, and I’m having a great time! I talk more about that at the bottom of this blog.
I enjoy a pretty wide range of music and have quite varied playlists. My playlists are mostly sorted by the decade the songs were released;
I’m a 90s kid so there’s obviously heavy nostalgia when it comes to the 90s, 00s & even 10s. My parents are to blame for a lot of the music prior to the 90s. My father is generally into music from the 60s and 70s, while my mother played what she refers to as her “Daggy Dance List” which is probably responsible for my love of 80s music. Having previously done tap dancing and singing, I have a soft spot for Big Band Jazz as well. This all started a love of exploring music from the past. But, occasionally I’ll be won over by something more recent.
When I’m working, I like to listen to music that makes me happy. A song can be happy because it reminds me of a time, place, or person that makes me happy. Or maybe because it’s upbeat, or it’s just a plain old good song. So, even though I’ll sometimes dip into a decade while I work, usually my go-to playlist is my “Favourites“.
Many people choose to play music to help them focus or concentrate, but that’s not really what music is about for me. Music influences your mood, brings back memories, and brings me a lot of joy. I don’t like playing music that makes it sound like I’m in a hotel lobby, because that doesn’t make me concentrate! I always play music that makes me happy. After all, when I’m happy I’m more productive.
I always have some sort of noise while I’m working. 99% of the time it’s music, but sometimes it’s just having the TV on in the background. My favourite music to listen to while working is something that’s got a nice beat and isn’t too engaging, otherwise I find myself distracted.
Mostly I listen to Chillstep or different styles of Low Fi (Jazz, Hip Hop etc) – very melodic and easy to listen to while working. I almost always use Spotify. But sometimes I’ll just have a YouTube playlist on as well. There’s so much variety in these genres that I rarely find myself listening to the same tune more than once, which is nice.
I tend to get way too emotionally invested in whatever music is playing, so I tend to sort my playlists by mood. If I’m working with numbers, I need either total silence (which is easy to achieve at a home office like mine) or something low-stakes like a song about a guy who’s really good at pinball.
If I’m doing a repetitive task, I like to listen to a work-out mix to get into a good rhythm. Work-out mixes are the modern-day sea shanty.
And when I have a task that I can do in my sleep, I turn on my guilty pleasure playlist for a private karaoke session. No one needs to know that I know all the lyrics to Rapper’s Delight except for me and my roommates.
Having a two-year-old, I constantly have Wiggles songs stuck in my head. So while I work, I actually prefer to listen to audio books rather than music! The local library services give their patrons access to apps that allow audio-book downloads for free, so I take advantage of this service while I work.
If I am in the mood for music instead, I have a tendency to stick to instrumental music on YouTube – Celtic and Nordic themes that I can play in the background while I concentrate.
Music helps me concentrate – as well as being a great mood booster – so I always have something on in the background. I tend to play whole albums rather than playlists, but I love the curated playlists Spotify make for me, they normally get it spot on.
The music I play depends a lot on where I am in the week. I normally start the week off with chill synth/electro pop style music such as Shura or Clairo. As the week goes on, I’ll put on artists such as Kali Uchis, Anderson Paak or Crazy P.
I definitely can’t pass up a touch (i.e a lot) of pop – queue Charli XCX & Dua Lipa – and 12pm onwards on Friday is the time for it!
I enjoy a wide array of music, it really depends on my mood on the day from pop and House to RnB and Rock. I love bands like Future Islands, Foals, Sticky Fingers, Smith Street Band, War On Drugs, Violent Soho.
When I’m wanting to get in the zone, I prefer listening to playlists with music that don’t have sing-along components.
I have a few go-to playlists on Spotify for when I just need steady background music including ‘The Office Stereo’, ‘Lo-Fi Beats’ and ‘Just Chill’. An odd one is the ‘The Sims’ from the original computer game. That music makes time fly by.
My music choice will always be all over the place because I like a lot of genres. But while I’m working I have a rule – listen to tunes which don’t have lyrics, because otherwise I’ll get distracted.
I listen to trip-hop, downtempo, chill-step; but I also love listening to Sigur Ros, Nils Frahm, and The Cinematic Orchestra. All are beautiful to listen to. When it is the end of a day or week, I often throw the tunes back to when I was in high school, and if my roommate is not home I may sing out loud.
We put together this post a while ago, but we like to update it now and then with some new discoveries. As of May 2020, we’ve been experiencing a global pandemic, and many people are experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety.
Music is something that can be very helpful in dealing with stress, and it can bring people together. The team over at ConsumersAdvocate.org have put together a list of music streaming services that you may like to check out! This list is probably of most use to American audiences, as some of the services aren’t available in other countries (e.g. Pandora is not available in Vine Street Digital’s home country, Australia). But there are still great insights and takeaways no matter which country you’re in.
One of the platforms they haven’t mentioned is Twitch. Twitch is generally known as the site where you can “watch other people play video games”, but that’s not all it’s about. Twitch also has a huge community of music streamers! You’ll mostly see pianists and guitarists, some who sing and some who don’t. Just check out the Music & Performing Arts section of Twitch. You can find streamers playing all sorts of music, from pop and rock, to video game and movie soundtrack covers.
Written by Chelsea Zanki, with contributions from the team