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8 Genres of Productivity Music (Plus Our Secret Stash of Personal Favorites)

8 Genres of Productivity Music (Plus Our Secret Stash of Personal Favorites)

Recently I collected my twenty-five best work from home tips together into one place, and I briefly mentioned my favorite productivity music. I didn’t go into much detail because I assumed everyone knew about the lofi study beats phenomenon. But I was pretty shocked! Lots of people mentioned that it was their first time hearing about it.

Readers, I’m sorry. We try not to hold out on you—but we often accidentally do! Our favorite tools are so familiar that we can’t comprehend life without them. And then we fail to adequately hype them.

Music is a super valuable productivity tool. If I’m trying to get shit done, the wrong soundscape makes time crawl by. I’m agitated and grumpy after twenty minutes. But the right productivity music helps me find my groove quickly and stay in it for much longer. Time glides by. Before I know it, my tasks are complete.

Today we’ll highlight eight productivity music genres, plus a bunch of our favorite compilations and tracks. Y’all best bring the goods and drop your favorite productivity beats in the comments!

Productivity music #1: Silence

What is it?

Before we talk about music, let’s first touch on its absence.

Some people truly cannot work and listen to music at the same time. It’s hard for me to identify with that experience, because silence makes me feel so uncomfortable and distractible. But everyone is different! Also, every task is different. In particular, I know a lot of writers who can’t produce words and listen to words at the same time.

If that’s you, you’re lucky in the sense that you don’t have to hunt up fresh tunes all the time. But you’re unlucky in the sense that silence is rare, and you probably have to actively create it.

Where to start listening

Here’s a few tips on how to help make your space silent.

  • Earplugs: You can get cheap earplugs at any drugstore. So if you’re having a particularly rough day for deep concentration, consider stopping by the local corner store and grabbing a pair.
  • Earmuffs: Home improvement stores sell noise-canceling earmuffs. They’re specifically made to protect people who work with jackhammers and such, but they’ll work for you too.
  • Noise-canceling headphones: A pretty wise investment for sound-sensitive people, IMO. You could even ask around if anyone has a nice pair of broken ones! High-end brands are designed to be very comfortable to wear. So if you don’t need the sound replay to work, save that craftsmanship from the dumpster.
  • Libraries: Libraries are great places to work. Most have dedicated study lounges, and many have private study rooms you can reserve for time blocks.
  • Alarms: Music and noise help us gauge the passage of time. So if you work in silence, consider setting an alarm to let yourself know it’s time for a break.
  • Airplane mode: Except for alarms, prep for a productivity session like you’re going into a movie theatre. Silence anything that will chirp at you and disrupt your flow.

Productivity music #2: Colored noise

What is it?

People often use the term “white noise” to mean any kind of ambient background sounds. But true noise comes in a spectrum of “colors.”

White noise = productivity music. But why it gotta be white...?

They aren’t literally color-coded. Remember from eighth grade science that color is a specific portion of the spectrum of visual light? Sound engineers use color as a metaphor to describe the same thing, just on the audio spectrum.

Colored noise is usually quiet and consistent, like the almost-invisible sound of an air conditioner humming. It’s aural static. And it can be very useful for blocking out unwanted noise, softening unwanted silence, and masking medical issues like hyperacusis and tinnitus.

  • White noise: White noise is distributed evenly across all spectrums. Usually mechanical, like a fan whirring steadily.
  • Pink noise: Pink noise is softer on the high end and more robust in the middle. It mimics the spectrum of noise we hear most commonly, such as our own heartbeats.
  • Brown noise: Brown noise is even lower. It mimics loud and low spectrum noises, like a thundering waterfall. (Also not to be confused with the brown note of urban legend.)

Where to start listening

Everyone’s hearing is different. I might hear something at one end of the spectrum quite loudly, while another person wouldn’t hear it at all. That’s why my favorite colored noise generators let you adjust each level for a fully customized listening experience.

I like MyNoise.net because they have a really intuitive, minimalist interface. But there are many others! (Although we link them a ton, they did not pay us for this article. Thanks to the generosity of our Patreon donors, every recommendation we make is always 100% genuine because we don’t have to tongue scrub any corporate sponsors to survive. Thanks, patrons, we adore you!)

There are browser-based options for your computer and app-based ones for your phone.

  • Hearing test: Calibrate your personal hearing range here.
  • Colored noise: Listen to white, pink, brown, and other colors here.

Productivity music #3: Ambient soundscapes

What is it?

I’ve always enjoyed nodding off to some kind of dull background chatter. When I was commuting by train, I’d often miss my stop because the rhythmic “ka-thump ka-thump” of the train tracks lulled me to sleep.

The best ambient sound is the real stuff. If real rain is falling on my rooftop, I sleep like a baby. If I’m lucky enough to stay somewhere with real ocean waves lapping, I’m gonna sleep like a baby from the era where it was cool to get babies drunk!

But if Mother Nature ain’t providing, you can easily make your own.

My favorite players let you customize the volume on each individual element. So if you prefer your rainstorms windy but without thunder, you can do that! A lot of them will ask you to pay a pittance of a dollar or two for a more customized experience. Personally, I’m okay with that—but if you’re not picky, you can easily find free ones.

Where to start listening

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

  • Falling asleep: Distant Thunder is my go-to sleep track. It’s sooooo relaxing. But if you find thunder and wind anxiety-inducing, try Rain on a Tent or The Falls instead.
  • Blocking other noises: Irish Coast is great when I need a powerful, consistent nature soundtrack to drown out unwanted sounds, like nearby construction.
  • Waking up: Primeval Forest has the energizing feeling of being in nature, without the inconvenience of muddy shoes and hungry bugs.
  • Feeling social: Cafe Restaurant is a loop of friendly-sounding human chatter that’s perfectly indistinct. I use this to trick my brain into thinking it’s left the house.
  • Focusing: Medieval Library captures the active quiet of being in a library, with faint page turns, writing scratches, fireplace crackles, and a grandfather clock.
  • Vacation vibes: African Town is a new one I’m really getting into. Most cityscapes have a New York City in the eighties vibe: honking cars, traffic, grumpy people marching soullessly around construction. But this is a much happier, relaxed, more vibrant-sounding cityscape.
  • Slow procedural music: 88 Keys makes non-repeating, procedural piano music if you want classical-sounding music but don’t want to get specific tunes stuck in your head.
  • Mid-tempo procedural music: The Pilgrim is one I use often for writing. It’s got very gentle percussive instrumentation that feels purposeful and driving, but never hurried.

Productivity music #4: Classical music

What is it?

Classical music is a huge genre. It contains music from approximately three bazillion times, places, instruments, and styles. So if you’ve never found a classical composer who speaks to you, it might just mean that you haven’t heard enough variety! (FWIW Piggy is into Bach’s cello suites, I like Shostakovich’s jazz suites, and we’re in perfect agreement that Tori Amos is the the only person who can touch a harpsichord without giving us pounding headaches.)

One easy way to start might be to identify whether you like full orchestration, small ensembles, piano arrangements, or solo instruments. Some will probably sound too intense, and others too spare. You could also watch a clear comparison demonstrating what a few different classical composers sound like:

If figuring out what you like feels like too much of a rabbit hole, that’s okay! We’re capitalists. There’s no problem we can’t solve by exploiting labor!

There are tons of playlists curated by classical music enthusiasts. You need absolutely no familiarity or expertise to find them. Just type in “classical music for studying” on your preferred streaming service. Then browse around until you find something that resonates!

Where to start listening

Here are a few suggestions to help you get started:

  • Johann Sebastian Bach: Classical music for robots who recently discovered human emotions. Methodically composed but yearning string pieces. Listen here.
  • Ludwig Von Beethoven: Classical music for people who challenge Death to games of chess, and win. Beet beats are for people who’d sooner eat coffee beans raw than take milk or sugar. Listen here.
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Classical music for people with extremely chaotic energy. Like, gets perfect SAT scores yet only watches cartoons. Witty, weird, playfully virtuosic. Listen here.
  • Claude Debussy: Classical music for people who cry easily and constantly apologize for it. Earnest, sentimental, emotive, and beautiful piano pieces. Listen here.
  • Erik Satie: Classical music for people who cry easily and refuse to apologize for it. Clean, beautiful piano compositions that sound like moonlight lancing through darkness. Listen here.
  • Frederic Chopin: Classical music for people who absolutely cannot keep a secret. Showy, complex piano pieces full of vibrant flourishes. Forever pronounced “choppin” in honor of Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen. Listen here.
  • Sergei Rachmaninoff: Classical music for people who derail parties by bringing up super depressing political and historical topics. Brooding and intense, but not stuffy. Listen here.
  • Johannes Brahms: Classical music for unicorns recently turned into human women. Smooth, graceful, balanced, and weirdly perfect. Listen here.
  • Clara Schumann: Classical music for INFPs too busy admiring sunsets to notice that everyone has a crush on them. Lyrical and haunting, but not by scary ghosts—friendly, helpful ghosts. Listen here.
  • Franz Liszt: Classical music for people who often say “and furthermore…” Thoughtful, passionate music that interrogates itself. Listen here.
  • Richard Wagner: Classical music for people who read The Silmarillion from start to finish more than once. Rich, dramatic, and very rewarding for repeat listeners. Listen here.

Productivity music #5: Movie soundtracks

What is it?

Movie soundtracks make for excellent productivity music. Instrumental scores are specifically formulated to help time flow and build emotion without interrupting dialogue or drawing too much attention to themselves.

Personally, my favorite productivity music comes from soundtracks I don’t associate super strongly with its source material. For example, The Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean are great soundtracks—but I can’t listen to their music without replaying those movies in my head. A lot of my favorite soundtracks to work to are from films I haven’t seen, or only saw once.

I also prefer soundtracks that don’t have intense peaks and valleys, either in tone or volume. So you won’t see stuff like Inception or Annihilation on my list either. YMMV!

Where to start listening

These are a few of my favorites:

  • Pride and Prejudice (2005): Sounds like pure parlor room classical, but played by someone who is actually having a ton of fun. Listen here.
  • The Shape of Water: As charming and beautiful as the legendary Amalie soundtrack, but deeper and more refined, without the latter’s twee gimmicks. Listen here.
  • The Danish Girl: Intimate and romantic, classically inclined but quite timeless. Listen here.
  • The Theory of Everything: Similar, but more modern and expansive. Listen here.
  • Phantom Thread: Feels like a lost Old Hollywood masterpiece. Cycles through tension and relaxation at a pace that’s pretty satisfying. Listen here.
  • Nocturnal Animals: Haunting beauty with a thrum of urgency. Listen here.
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel: Playful, bouncy, and eclectic. Listen here.
  • The Social Network: Intense and driving, with plenty of bleep-bloops for my fellow bleep-bloop lovers. Listen here.
  • Moon: Cold spaciness infused with just enough classical strings to warm it up. Listen here.
  • Tron Legacy: Similar, but goes even further, blending sweeping cinematic orchestration with industrial retro synth. Listen here.

Productivity music #6: Video game soundtracks

What is it?

Video game soundtracks might be even better than movie soundtracks for productivity. They’re longer and stronger, baby! Designed to withstand the stress tests of being replayed on long loops, in any conceivable order, with a consistent volume.

Don’t play video games? Fine, your loss—just don’t sleep on their soundtracks.

Where to start listening

Bitch-approved favorites include:

  • Life is Strange: Puts the acoustic guitar at the center of its sensitive, gentle, reflective indie sound. Listen here.
  • Final Fantasy X Piano Collections: Engaging, emotive, highly listenable piano solos from the most respected composer in gaming. Listen here.
  • God of War: Viking-flavored ambient fantasy music that somehow feels both smaller and more cinematic than its peers. Listen here.
  • Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, Hyrule Symphony: Straightforwardly gorgeous classical-inspired orchestrations. Listen here.
  • Breath of the Wild: Rightly one of the most praised soundtracks in gaming history. Inimitably eclectic, with a gentle, minimalist genre-defying sound. Listen here.
  • Animal Crossing, New Leaf: Light, calm, totally unchallenging music you can do hella chores to. Listen here.
  • Katamari Damacy: A bizarre, groovy, poppy weirdness. Some songs have lyrics, but they’re not in English, so whatever. Listen here.
  • Bastion: A very unique East-meets-West sound. Like a couple of grungy Spaghetti Western cowboys joined forces with a hip-hop producer and, I don’t know—a random sitar player? Listen here.
  • Mass Effect: Pounding synthy beats for space marines who need to catch up on their space paperwork. Listen here.
  • Tetris Effect: A game that’s literally built on a framework of spacious, pulsating, mesmerizing beats. Listen here.

Productivity music #7: Lofi

What is it?

Lofi is the Holy Grail of productivity music.

Lofi (“low fidelity” music) is characterized by imperfect audio quality—sometimes original, sometimes remixed from other media—set to a repetitive downtempo beat with few or no vocals. The tracks flow in long loops, sometimes an hour or more. And it frequently has a white noise element, like vinyl scratches or quiet rain sounds.

It’s a very new genre of music, and its popularity has exploded in the last year. Science has just started to explore why it’s such a powerful productivity tool. According to an interview with auditory neuropsychologist Kevin Woods…

Good focus music has no vocals, no strong melodies, “dark” spectrum, dense texture, minimal salient events, heavy spatialization, a steady pulse, sub-30-200Hz modulation, and above 10-20Hz modulation. One of the easiest ways to cut back on musical surprises is to add in a constant. The high-frequency hum of vinyl acts a “blanket” [so that a] snare hit or guitar strum isn’t as jarring. That’s probably why some people insist “vinyl just sounds better,” but can’t articulate why when asked.

“The Science Behind the ‘Beats to Study To’ Craze”

Where can I find it?

In other words, it’s Goldilocks music.

Lofi isn’t too fast or too slow, exciting or boring. It’s novel yet nostalgic, challenging and comforting. It has the perfect elements to make you pay attention—just not to the music itself. And at any given moment, thousands of people are using it as productivity music.

Lofi girl still delivering the dopest productivity music known to man.

Although its most successful artists are crossing the land bridge to streaming platforms, YouTube is lofi’s ancestral homeland. Lofi videos use low-effort looping animation clips, often from vintage anime. It makes same-y tracks a lot more memorable.

Plus, there’s something really interesting about the community you can only experience on YouTube. YouTube comments are usually moral cesspools. But the comment sections for lofi videos are strikingly positive. Listeners upvote positive affirmations, and coach each other through anxious thoughts. Some of the most prominent channels play live. And at night, the chat comes alive with people too anxious or depressed to sleep. It’s quite beautiful!

Where to start listening

Hot take: I don’t think there’s any really bad lofi. You really can’t go wrong. But these are some of our personal favorites:

There are also tons of artists remixing music you already love. Anime, video games, and old songs are particularly popular. Here’s a few great examples:

Productivity music #8: Mashup albums

What is it?

All of our recommendations up to this point have been chill. We’ve talked about tunes with a nice, gentle pace ideal for slipping into meditative, productive flow states. But sometimes chill isn’t what you need.

Some tasks require you to get lit.

Possibly even turnt.

That’s right. We may get so lit and so turnt that we discover newer and cringier uses of fake teen lingo only old people say.

If the kind of productivity you’re searching for is a full-on Productivity Frenzy®, you need a good mashup album. They’re frenzied, groovy (sometimes seamless) album-length chimeras. Artists blend ancient one-hit wonders, vintage rap, and modern pop together into one explosively dancey musical experience.

This is the music you put on when you have one hour to clean up the party you didn’t have permission to throw. It will give you the manic energy of a child hopped up on Pixy Stix. Probably the sticky hands and post-sugar crash too! So deploy with caution.

Where to start listening

The sacred mashup texts of the Bitches:

  • Creature of Habit and The Art of Noise by Bruneaux. Listen here.
  • Mashup Manifesto III and IV by Isosine. Listen here.
  • Decade Mix 1992-2002 by Vom Spreeodos. Listen here.
  • Ocarina of Rhyme by Team Teamwork. Listen here.
  • Miley High Club and All About the Scrillions by Super Mash Bros. Listen here.
  • All Day and Feed the Animals by Girltalk. Listen here, if you dare.

Warning: be careful with those last two. Drink a full glass of water before you hit play. Call your doctor if you feel the urge to dance for more than four hours after taking Girltalk.

BONUS CONTENT: Piggy’s Beethoven Facts Corner, Volumes 1-4

Y’all like nerdy and unnecessary tangents, right?

Readers, my knowledge of classical music could barely stretch to fill an hour of Pop Up Videos on VH1. But Piggy is a straight-up music nerd. Bitch took classical music lessons from the age of five, then got a completely useless music minor at college.

She’s all “I could go on about Beethoven for fucking ever.” So I was like “Prove it.”

Piggy’s Beethoven Facts Corner, Volume 1: There Can Be ONLY ONE

“When Boston’s Symphony Hall was being built, the designers decided to put the names of the greatest composers on tablets around the arch of the stage. But they argued about what names to include. In the end, the only name they all agreed on was Beethoven. And to this day, his is the only name to appear above the stage in Symphony Hall. All the other tablets are blank.”

Piggy’s Beethoven Facts Corner, Volume 2: More Like BEEFhoven

“Beethoven wrote his third symphony, Eroica: The Bonaparte Symphony, in honor of Napoleon, who he viewed as a hero of the people after the French Revolution. But when Napoleon revealed himself for the monster he truly was, Beethoven erased the subtitle to this symphony so violently that he tore the damn page. It is now known only as Eroica—‘The Heroic.'”

Piggy’s Beethoven Facts Corner, Volume 3: Can’t Hear Music, Still Makes It Better Than Your Bitch Ass

“Beethoven started going deaf in his twenties, when he was already a prominent composer. The cause is unknown, though popular theories include lead poisoning, syphilis, typhus, or his habit of plunging his head into cold water to stay awake so he could keep composing. He tried to keep his deafness a secret for fear it would ruin his career. By the time he was forty-five, he was completely deaf. Yet his composing didn’t stop. It got better.”

Piggy’s Beethoven Facts Corner, Volume 4

“Beethoven is the shit. Ngl, learning to play the first movement of Moonlight Sonata got Young Piggy through some dark, dark times.”

Hold on—you stopped at the first? Piggy, you coward! If you won’t take him at his presto agitato, you don’t deserve him at his adagio sostenuto!

Productive doesn’t mean exploitative

Alright, alright, enough of that.

One final note: a lot of people associate the word “productive” with working, grinding, making money, etc. We’ve written about productivity porn. Tl;dr, it sucks.

Productivity is all about using your time to create value. But I encourage you to think expansively and compassionately about what’s valuable for you as an individual.

Are you sleepy? Napping is productive. Do you need a cathartic release of emotions? Crying is productive. These kinds of activities only become unproductive if you’re intentionally using them to procrastinate on taking other, better actions to sustain yourself.

Honor the necessary processes of rest and relaxation. Maximize your productivity by giving yourself permission to enjoy it fully. You’ll have to get back to work eventually—and it’s a lot easier if you’re not starting out already exhausted by self-recrimination.

And if you ever feel unproductive, remember that Mozart wrote the overture to Don Giovanni the morning of its premiere. And it’s considered one of the greatest operas of all time, so calm down, sis!

What’s your favorite productivity music?

Readers, did we connect you to some new productivity music today? Do you have a secret weapon soundtrack or go-to lofi beat that always helps you focus? If so, don’t keep it a secret! Tell us all about ’em in the comments below.

Take us out, beats by Beets!

25 thoughts to “8 Genres of Productivity Music (Plus Our Secret Stash of Personal Favorites)”

  1. In the afterword of a novel (sadly, I can’t remember which one to provide credit), the author thanked Muse, which was the soundtrack playing when they wrote the book. It was at about the same time I was playing Guitar Hero and so I got into them, and for whatever reason Muse and Daft Punk have become my own go-tos for when I need to pound out words in a creative mode.

    Different tasks sometimes require different soundscapes. There’s another YouTube music phenomenon that I like to put on when editing: electro swing. I’m going to go check out some lofi now though…

    1. WAS IT TWILIGHT?! Because I think I remember that from the first book.

      I also love both of those artists. The Resistance is a dozen years old, and it’s still in my regular rotation. Last year I taught finance to a group of high school kids, and one of them asked what music I liked. I mentioned Muse and she said “oh yeah, I think my dad listens to them!” and I immediately dried up and became a mummy… If you haven’t, definitely check out the Tron soundtrack, it was produced by Daft Punk!

      1. Against all odds, I still have my copies of the Twilight books, so I checked. And you are close! It wasn’t Twilight, but was (at least) one of the sequels.

  2. Hello!
    I can’t help but notice that there is only one woman on your list of classical musicians and this bitch can’t let that slide! Though wildly underrepresented in textbooks and media, women have been active in music creation for all of recorded (pun intended) history. Here are some I think you’d love:

    Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)
    -AKA Hildegard von BANGIN – wrote the first recorded description of the female orgasm!

    Barbara Strozzi (1619-1677)
    -AKA Tits-Out Strozzi – Google image search her to know why

    Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel (1805-1847)
    -Her husband was unapologetically supportive of her music career, and when her brother Felix had the chance to play for the Queen of England he played one of her songs instead of his own because he acknowledged she was the better composer

    Jennifer Higdon (1962-Present)
    -She’s gay! She’s alive! She’s American! Blue Cathedral is one of the most acclaimed pieces of our time

    Thank you for your time. Have a gay day.

    1. A very gay day to you as well!

      Thank you for these recommendations. Originally I had NO ladies on my list! My goal was to differentiate the musical vibes of the composers who appear most often in “music to study to” compilations. All dudes. I needed Piggy’s deeper knowledge of the classical genre to suggest including even just Schumann.

    2. Buddha bar is my musical highway to productive flow !
      (Yes I was born in 1986…) Generally it’s also about training your brain to be in “work” mode

  3. Some streaming/podcast apps have noise generator type things built in, even allowing for customizing the types and volumes of sounds. (the one I’ve got calls it ZenMode in Personal Settings)

    I’ve always really loved the Lord of the Rings Complete Score, which is something like 9+ hours (full playlists on youtube). Rather than hour or so of highlights on the soundtracks, it’s all that amazing Howard Shore wrote. Great for having a)lots to listen to, b)repeating themes which help it fade more towards background noise, and c)enough variety in pacing, timing, instrumentals and vocals to keep it interesting but not distracting. After listening through it so many times, I don’t really even think about nearly any of the actual movie scenes…

    1. Hell yeah! Everything I know about Richard Wagner was learned from the extended edition documentaries. Howard Shore talked a ton about the Ring Cycle’s influence on the LOTR soundtrack. Once the whole leitmotif thing was explained to me, I couldn’t unhear it, and it made an already great soundtrack even better.

  4. Gonna take this moment to shamelessly plug my child, my pride and joy, my instrumental playlist on spotify: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/6ly5Q4Zfaac9zxn3ew13HS?si=0VHvY-8yQXGUAMO71IJdbw&utm_source=copy-link. It’s got a hodge podge of movie sountracks, lofi beats, classical music, and non-lyrical songs from some of my favorite artists. It definitely skips around in mood so I prefer a shuffle, but also feel free to glean some good tracks from it for your own use/playlists! I’m super excited to explore the recs above & grow the list!

  5. I read about using video game soundtracks to stay engaged in work a few years ago because of how they’re structured and I love this post for bringing it up again. Tron: Legacy is my go-to ‘buckle down and work” soundtrack and George Winston’s Forest is the best falling-asleep music. The London Philharmonic Orchestra put out a The Greatest Video Game Music album several years ago that’s also in my regular rotation since it has the video game thing, but also it’s not the same theme throughout.

  6. There is an app called Focus@Will that is designed exactly for this. It does cost money, but it worked super well for getting me through the writing and revision of a 250+ page dissertation. For reals, I would not have finished without it.

    All of their music is written just for the app and made to help focus without dragging you out of your work (they give specific instructions to nix any tracks you actually notice so you end up with a phenomenal backdrop for thinking rather than being nerd-sniped by time shifts in Barber’s Adagio or whatever).

    While my particular brain in those particular circumstances responded well to the channel my husband referred to as “Russian house music,” they also have a bunch of choices ranging from cafe chatter to classical, to vague flutey stuff, to my own beloved “Russian house music.”

  7. First: I had heard of but not actually HEARD LoFi, and this shit is magic. THANK YOU, BITCHES!

    My go-to for blocking noise is Ambient-Mixer. It’s an app as well as a website, and lets you custom-mix up to eight samples at a time from its ENORMOUS library. You can check out my work mix from when I was still sitting in an open-plan office next to the support folks here: https://relaxing.ambient-mixer.com/ealasaid-s-work-mix-v2-0 (Includes thunderstorms, windchimes, and Hell Rumble, which is hard to describe but good for blocking out the hell that is an open-plan office.)

  8. I’m one of the folks who usually needs silence. I need silence to sleep, and to do any work that requires pretty solid focus, especially writing & reading comprehension. Luckily I’m home by myself most weekdays in a quiet residential area.

    I have recommended the soundtrack to the game Transistor to friends before. Made by the same folks as Bastion. I agree that Girl Talk is awesome for getting some energy.

  9. The best way to clean my house? Listen to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Jesus Christ Superstar. It never gets old. It makes me Move. It makes me cry, almost every time.

  10. +1 for the Bastion soundtrack.

    When I need to pump out some code, I’ll put on the Crypt of the Necrodancer soundtrack or something instrumental by Celldweller. For edits or debugging, the Celeste or Hollow Knight soundtracks are great. For papers or presentations I’ve procrastinated on and actually need to start, Lindsey Stirling has some solid albums.

    I’ve found that I work best with instrumentals, but I can get away with songs with words if I either know the words by heart (yay for work from home, so nobody hears if I start singing along), or if it’s from a different language. I’ve gotten a decent amount of mileage from commercial-free Spanish radio when I need to hear something new but not be too distracted by it.

  11. When I need to GET. SHIT. DONE. I’m all about outrun. BUT. It has to be mostly instrumental. Driving synth beats just feel right for doing fast design work at a computer to me.

    I’m pretty happy with the instrumental outrun playlist I put together. Maybe it will be helpful for someone else: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4dfBeUjcnHIB23NIFSxyJI?si=tzpDUTbcQCe2jPOiS9_xsw&utm_source=copy-link

    (Bonus: it has 140 followers on Spotify, so I love to go into my partner’s room ever so often to remind him that I’m like *totally* internet famous and he should feel lucky to have me, PEASANT.)

  12. I agree; I managed to find LOTR Complete Recordings while visiting LA in a massive music store and screamed. I had listened to it online for ages at that point and absolutely FLIPPED MY SHIT when my mom found it. Still one of my best purchases ever.

    Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and its expansion soundtracks are incredible and at least a few hours long each. I definitely recommend them too.

    Mendelssohn is someone who also has pretty smooth piano pieces that I enjoy listening to. Schubert was also an interesting hybrid of Classical/Romantic era so I like listening to him too. For people who find Classical too structured/chewy for you Romantic is an excellent subgenre that contains emotion and feeling but you don’t usually get caught up in it all while working.

    Also, because I am sad no one brought this up, Ambient Worlds (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfR8HhkbpDAwvYxrecNg4Mg) on YouTube is my favorite 2020 quarantine find. When you can’t get out into the world, I found you can bring other worlds to you through the ‘window’ of your screen and it helped keep me from going crazy. I was able to pretend I was somewhere else.

    Ambient Worlds loops music from various franchises and plops you into their fictional environments. For example, you can ‘work’ in each Hogwarts House, in the Black Lake (which some may recognize from Subnautica), or explore various planetscapes from Star Wars. My favorites in particular are Endoor and Yoda’s Hut. There’s also Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, iconic movie soundtracks, game soundtracks (WoW, anyone?) and a ton of others. A lot of times the creator adds in ambient sounds (rain, insects/wildlife, wind) too if that aids in your experience at all. Please check him out; he does great work and also has a Patreon. https://www.patreon.com/ambientworlds

    If you like smooth jazz, Calmed by Nature has some really excellent music/ambient sound remixes that also take place in other environments, although cafes are prominent. They have probably the most popular smooth jazz Christmas music mix of all time on YouTube that I listened to nonstop this winter. https://www.youtube.com/c/CalmedByNature

    Nature Relaxation Films has realtime landscapes shot from drones (a bunch in 4k) that are gorgeous and also contain sound or music (but like the Walmart endcap new age music demos, so if that’s your cup of tea more power to you). Hawaii is my favorite series. If you ever want to fly like a bird, this is the channel to watch. https://www.youtube.com/user/dhuting

    Finally, Cafe Music BGM Channel is literally what it’s called; it’s smooth jazz and piano music that has a couple livestreams going on at one time, like Chilled Cow mentioned above in the article. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJhjE7wbdYAae1G25m0tHAA

    I hope this helps anyone else who needs it! These channels have been lifesavers for me.

  13. It’s been 5 working days since you posted this article. I bookmarked it so I could explore all sorts of new work/working sounds. Thank you so much! I’m usually an audio book listener for mindless tasks like basic data entry, but this has given me so many options for when I can’t focus on a story in my ears and need some smooth lofi jams or rain sounds.

  14. This is awesome, definitely gonna give LoFi a try. I recently discovered a youtube genre of music being played as though in another room, sometimes with rain and/or fireplace sounds overlaid. When I play them, my dog and cat actually lie together in harmony on the couch next to the speaker while I work; it’s a thing of beauty!

    My favorite is probably this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRaMmc6tujE&t=7643s but anything on that channel (Nemo’s Dreamscapes) is great.

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