Turn Up The Tunes: Ultimate Work Music Playlists (headphones required)

Of all the quotes about music I’ve read, one by Plato’s stands out the most. Coincidentally, it’s  the most relevant to our topic of work music playlists. He said, “music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” I couldn’t agree more.

Getting in the right state of mind for work calls for harmony. A few factors come into play when you need to get in the zone and drown out background noise. You need coffee, a comfortable seat, screen adjusted at the right angle, headphones and a music playlist.

Music is about personal preference. Some are able to work with Beyoncé and others like Bach. In both instances, the science of music’s influence on a person’s productivity at work is clear:

  • “Results from five experiments demonstrate that a moderate (70 dB) versus low (50 dB) level of ambient noise enhances performance on creative tasks and increases the buying likelihood of innovative products.”

Is Noise Always Bad? Exploring the Effects of Ambient Noise on Creative Cognition*

by Ravi Mehta, Rui (Juliet) Zhu and Amar Cheema.

*This paper was highlighted and cited as a research source by the ambient cafe sound website, Coffitivity.

  • “The studies show that music is effective in raising efficiency in this type of work even when in competition with the unfavourable conditions produced by machine noise.”

Music — an aid to productivity

J.G. Fox, E.D. Embrey

  • “Evidence is provided of the presence of a learning curve in the use of music for positive mood alteration.”

The effect of music listening on work performance

Teresa Lesiuk, University of Windsor, Canada

  • “It was believed that dopamine-regulated pleasure and reward and that we release it when we obtain something that satisfies us, but in fact, the latest scientific evidence shows that this neurotransmitter acts before that, it actually encourages us to act.”

Asociación RUVID. “Dopamine regulates the motivation to act, study shows.” ScienceDaily


The science has spoken and it’s music to my ears. If background noise is more of your thing, check out Coffitivity. Prefer something different? Go to focus@will for “scientifically designed music.”

Curating a playlist that has something for all your states of mind during a work day can be tricky. I put my ears (and work music taste) to the test and came up with the following suggestions:

Spotify Focus Playlists

    • Peaceful Piano (2, 472, 394 Followers)


  • Sparks – Black Elk
  • Gabriel Parker – Intervention
  • Mbo Mentho – Sea Mist


      • Deep Focus (1,904,939 followers)


  • Lights and Motion – Anomaly
  • Helios – Nothing It Can
  • Ceilidh – The Plains Of Dover


      • Brain Food (1,447,913 followers)


  • J-Kraken – Coast to Coast
  • Deadmau5, Lane 8 – Strobe (Lane 8 Remix)
  • Artic Vision – U Adelia


      • Productive Morning (197,566 followers)


  • Sigur Rós – Sigur 3 (Untitled)
  • Tracey Chattaway – Starlights
  • Talkdemonic – Mountaintops In Caves


Movie Soundtracks

      • The Social Network by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
      • Inception (Music From The Motion Picture) by Hans Zimmer
      • Sherlock Holmes (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
      • Batman Begins – Original Soundtrack by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard


Video Game Tunes

      • Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy 
      • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 by Hans Zimmer
      • God of War III (Original Video Game Soundtrack)


Did You Call for the Classics?

      • Johann Sebastian Bach
      • Ludwig van Beethoven
      • Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
      • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Turn Up The Tunes: Ultimate Work Playlist (Headphones required)

A Couple of Takeaways:

      • Play songs that you like (it’s the science of dopamine at work motivating you to act)
      • Take note of which genre of music you work better/faster to.
      • There are scientifically proven ways for you to use your favourite music and “increase your alertness, feel happier, organise your brain, sharpen your memory and improve your mood.” This comes from a book titled, Your Playlist Can Change Your Life.


Tell us what’s in your work music playlist in the comments below.


Ready to work in music? Here’s a list of music-related job opportunities on Jobstore.com!

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