Blog·Employee Engagement

October 21, 2019

Music for Productivity: PeopleGoal Playlist

Music for productivity means different things to different people. Here is a playlist, tips on finding music to help you focus and the science behind it.

What kind of music do you like? What kind of music makes you productive? Are the two mutually exclusive? Tastes in music can be esoteric, wacky and individualistic. Maybe you like tunes that get you in the zone for concentration with hypnotic rhythms or repetitive minimalism. Maybe you prefer slower music, which helps your mind relax as you get through the working day. Or maybe you can work listening to white noise or natural sounds to improve your reading comrehension. Some might prefervbaroque music as background music while at work. The fact is, that music affects your performance, can improve your mood, reduces stress and boosts productivity.

What's the research on music for productivity say?

Research indicates that music can have various benefits for one's work productivity:

  • 61% of employees listen to music at work to make them happier and more productive.

  • 88% of workers doing data-entry, solving mathematics problems and proofreading often work faster and more accurately while listening to music.

  • It has been suggested that listening to music for only 15-30 minutes can help someone regain their concentration.

  • 77% of SME business owners believe music increases employee morale, while 65% believe music makes their employees more productive.

  • 40% of business owners believe playing music increases sales.

Music for focus

What about different types of music?


Is music without lyrics the best? Do lyrics engage your brain and distract you from the task at hand? One study reports that lyrics were a big distraction for employees, who report that 48% were bothered by speech, and claims that employees waste 21.5 minutes a day consequently. So when you’re trying to get your work done and block out the world outside of your headphones, maybe try and avoid music with lyrics.


It has also been suggested that listening to music that you enjoy makes your tasks more and means you often complete tasks quicker. It also has links with creativity.


Tempo and effects on your arousal are inexplicably linked. Research has suggested that music with a tempo of 60 beats per minute can result in a reduction in stress and an increased sense of physical relaxation. While other research has reported better performance on IQ test when listening to up-beat music.


We are not just worried about work performance here; we’re also worried about your otology. Moderate and high levels have been found to be more conducive for abstract thinking. But while high noise levels hinder the brains ability to process information, medium noise levels are far more effective.

There is a myriad of productivity playlists of various genres available online and on Spotify as you probably already know.

But with all of this research behind us, we decided to ask some of our team members here in the PeopleGoal office, the type of music and few of their favourite tunes they like to listen to while they work. As a result we composed a (fairly eclectic) PeopleGoal productivity playlist for you. Moreover, we have gathered some tips from some our team members on how to find good music.

PeopleGoal Productivity Playlist

James - CTO

"Doing your best work as a developer often involves shutting out all distractions. A good pair of noise-cancelling headphones is the best place to start. I use machine learning and AI to find the best music; I'm not kidding. Spotify's "Discover Weekly" is just that - machine learning based on your past listening. Here's my playlist for this week:

Discover Weekly, a playlist by Spotify

So my process goes like this:

  • Monday: after our team meeting I'll begin to tackle the various code/code review tasks assigned to me. I'll listen to my "Discover Weekly" playlist.
  • If any songs stand out as subjectively good I add them to my personal "Best of Discover Weekly" playlist.
  • Tue - Fri; listen to my "Best of Discover Weekly" playlist and reinforce Spotify's machine learning algorithm.
  • If I find a particularly good song I'll often go to the artist page and listen to their other work. This further reinforces the machine learning.
  • Next Monday: A new (and improved) "Discover Weekly" playlist is delivered, and the process repeats itself.

After following this process for about two years I have a long and personally appealing "Best of Discover Weekly" playlist."

Nik - CEO

“I am a big fan of Music Art Club which plays nice chilled out music. I have also developed a script using the Spotify API to generate a random playlist depanding on the time of the day. The query parameters I am using from the API are:

  • Acousticness: It meassures whether a track is accoustic with a scale of 0.0 to 1.0. 1.0 represents high confidence the track is acoustic.
  • Energy: It measures intensity ad activity from 0.0 to 1.0. Heavy or death metal will be classified as high intensity, high energy, while classic music will score closer to 0 on the scale.
  • Tempo: It measures the overall estimated speed or pase of a track and it's calculated based from the average beat duration of the track (0-250).
  • Valance: A measure of the musical positiveness of a track (0.0 to 1.0). Tracks with high valance are more cheerful and happy. Low valance sounds more negative.
  • Instrumentalness: It predicts if track contains any vocals (0.0 to 1.0). The closer the instrumentalness value is to 1.0, the greater likelihood the track contains no vocal content.
  • Market: The market parameter allows to set a country in our search
  • and finally Limit to limit the number of tracks

I run my script 3 times a day and load the search results back to spotify, I usally go for 50 tracks which I listen in suffle mode. I have create a table below to show which parameters I use for the search depending on the time of the day:

8:00 AM0.00 - 0.280.67 - 0.90120 - 1600.70 - 0.950.00 - 0.30
11:30AM0.50 - 0.700.40 - 0.6080 -1300.60 - 0.950.30 - 0.60
2:00 PM0.60 - 1.000.30 - 0.7060 -1200.50 - 0.900.50 - 0.80

I prefer high tempo, energy and valance in the mornings to get me going and when we lose a deal I go for low valance and energy songs 🙂.”

Kylie - Customer Success Manager

“My walk to work is almost always sound tracked by my Discover Weekly, or one of my mate's playlists. I love that the suggested tracks help me discover a new artist or an old classic I haven't heard in years. In the office I'm usually in and out of calls and meetings so when I sit down to write I like to get a coffee and put on a mood booster. That can be anything from classic funk and soul to pop, indie, hip hop or electro. Otherwise I'll be listening to whoever I have tickets to see that week - our live music scene is one of my favourite reasons to live in Bristol.”

Joseph - Marketing Specialist

“I like listening to foreign music while I work. I find that listening to songs which have English lyrics makes me become far too engaged with the music and means I can’t focus on my work. Being the philistine that I am, I can’t speak any foreign languages, so listening to foreign language-based music provides me with the perfect alternative. At the moment I really like listening to French music. I prefer listening to alternative Indie stuff, so at the moment that’s where my productivity playlist lies: French indie. How millennial.”

Henry- Employee Experience Champion

“Music is vital to any of my working day, from starting the day off in the right mindset, to setting a beat to get specific tasks done. Thus, the music I listen to vastly differs depending on what aspect of work I am completing.”

Brad - Front-end Developer

“Working as a developer my taste is music changes with the tasks I have during the day. In the morning I am usually sipping on my coffee while slowly waking to the world, and then I enjoy listening to music by my favourite artists. So that I start out my day on the right foot. Starting out staying true to my roots with one of my favourite Aussie bands.”

Dom - Digital Marketing Specialist

“Personally, I cannot imagine working without music. Listening to music helps me to eliminate distractions and ‘get into a zone’ to get things done. I also like to use music to boost my energy levels on a lazy afternoon or calm my nerves during stressful times. The genres massively depend on the nature of the work I am currently doing as well as my mood. Usually it is a combination of indie,lo-fi, electronic and classical music with an occasional sprinkle of post-punk featuring bands like Omni, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Four Tet and Kiasbos but always looking for new stuff.”

Nola - Marketing Intern

"The conversation about my workplace playlist is always very different to any other discussion I have about music, mainly, because when I listen to music outside of work, I am focussed on listening to that music - whereas when I am at work, I am listening to music to focus. That means, for one, that it cannot contain any words, at least english ones. As a copywriter, my work is very word-based and I don't want to risk writing Eminem lyrics in my human resources blog. My playlist is very tame, almost child like. I like listening to classical music, which often incorporates well known movie soundtracks like Lion King, Finding Nemo, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Twilight... I am often a bit anxious when I come to work and I think the nostalgia of music from movies I watched as a child relaxes me. That being said, I also love the soundtracks to Inception, The Island and Amelie. Later in the day when I'm feeling a bit sluggish, I listen to alternative electronic, house and liquid dnb."

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