“Without music, life would be a mistake” – Friedrich Nietzsche

As an affiliate, you probably spend most of your time in front of a computer.  So it’s very likely that a large part of your day is also spent listening to music while you work. You might even be listening to music right now, as you read this article.

With the internet providing us with faster and easier access than ever before to a seemingly unlimited supply of music through services such as iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube, music is becoming a normal part of our working day.

Wandering through Twist H.Q you’re likely to hear the latest chart tunes playing, or spot a few twisters with their headphones on listening to their favourite beats while they work.

Your teachers and parents probably told you never to study while listening to music. But were they right? Is listening to music while you work a bad idea?

Not according to these statistics from MusicWorks :


  • 81% of people work faster when completing office based tasks while listening to music
  • 88% of people work most accurately when listening to music
  • 77% of business say playing music in the workplace increases staff morale and creates a better atmosphere
  • 61% of businesses believe that music increases employee productivity


Listening to music activates the part of your brain that triggers the release of the ‘pleasure chemical’ dopamine. And the right kind of music can help you drown out distractions and relax your mind – allowing you to concentrate better.


The Mozart Effect

You’ve probably heard of the “Mozart Effect”; a term coined following a famous study in the early 90’s that suggested listening to classical music improves the brain, inducing short-term improvement in certain kinds of mental tasks known as ‘spatial-temporal reasoning’.

Parents the world over began playing their babies and children classical music in the hope that it would make them more intelligent. But in 2006, a British study involving 8000 children showed that the ‘Mozart Effect’ doesn’t necessarily have to be Mozart.

Children were played either ten minutes of Mozart, a discussion about the experiment itself, or to a sequence of Blur’s ‘County House, ‘Mark Morrison’s ‘Return of the Mack’ and PJ and Duncan’s ‘Stepping Stone’. After listening to Mozart, their ability to predict paper shapes was improved. But the children who listened to pop music did even better – probably because they already knew and liked it.

This, and other more recent studies show it’s important that we are listening to music that we like in order to gain any benefit to our productivity. Which is lucky, considering classical music isn’t everyone’s thing.


Listen to Music You Like to Improve Your Mood

Studies suggest that listening to your favourite music – whatever your taste – boosts your productivity because it improves your mood and lowers feelings of tension. Quite simply; it makes you feel good.girl listening to music

A study by Teresa Lesiuk at the University Of Windsor, Canada found that IT specialists listening to music completed tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.

A similar study found workers in an assembly line who listened to music were happier, more efficient, and made fewer errors.

When we are in a positive mood state, we tend to be more productive. And when your mood is elevated, you are also more motivated, meaning you can work for longer. Music presses the emotional buttons in our brain, so when you work, listen to music that puts you in a positive mood.


Music Speeds Up the Boring

Listening to music you like is pleasurable. Which not only makes what you are doing seem more fun, but according to research, it can actually help you complete the task faster.

So whatever it is you dread doing, whether it’s keyword research or content writing, stick some music on and you might just find it isn’t as bad as you thought it was going to be!


Stick With Music You Already Know

Although listening to music you like can be good for you while you work, now isn’t the time to play that brand new album you just downloaded. Especially when you need a bit of extra focus, on a new project for example.

Discovering a brand new song you love while working can actually disrupt your concentration by causing your brain to release too much dopamine. Because the new song you’ve just discovered is much more interesting and pleasurable than your work, the rush of dopamine means you’re likely to lose your focus on your work.

Unlike new music, with music you are already familiar with you know what comes next, so the sound is not your primary focus, meaning you can give your full attention to the task at hand.


Learning Something New? Hit the Pause Button

BrainWhen you need to grasp and apply new knowledge – especially something complicated – you need more focus and mental energy. When you are listening to music, your ability to learn something new that is cognitively demanding decreases.

Researchers at the University of Wales Institute found the performance of adults decreased while listening to music when they were asked to complete a complex task of recalling a series of sounds presented to them in a specific order.

So if you’re about to build your very first WordPress site, write your first lines of programming code,  or create a strategy for a new site, now is probably the time to turn the music off.


Already Good at Something? Music Makes You Better

On the other hand, if you’re already a pro at something, go ahead and crank up the volume! Even if it’s something complicated, if you’ve done something loads of times before and are already good at it, listening to music you like can improve your performance and make errors less likely.

A number of studies have found that surgeons who have music playing in the background work more accurately and effectively. For a well-practiced expert, music can improve performance by helping them achieve the relaxed focus they need to carry out their job.


Give Your Ears a Break

Ever found it difficult to sleep when you’re somewhere new? When we’re in a new environment, our brain finds it difficult to tune out and switch off from all the new sounds it’s not used to hearing.

Your brain is able to focus much better when you periodically change the input it receives. A break from music is just as important for your focus and attention as taking a break every hour from the computer screen, so change the CD or turn the off music completely every so often.


The Best Music for Boosting Your Performance

  • Music without lyrics has been shown to better enhance mental performance and enable a stronger focus. Why not try some classical or instrumental music?
  • Baroque classical music is said to have mind-boosting effects
  • Eno’s ‘Music for Airports’ was designed to relax stressed out travellers. It’s also been found to be useful for deep concentration
  • Feeling creative? Trip-hop, Nu jazz, Ambient House, Ambient Trance, New Age and other “Chill Out” music relaxes the mind and allow it to roam
  • Ambient music or sound helps keep your brain engaged at a lower, subconscious level. Try some sounds from nature such as rain, seashore or waterfalls
  • Thinking and creativity is said to be easier when the brain is in a “bright and breezy” frame of mind. Music at 60 beats-per minute is perfect for this
  • Focus@will is a music service based on neuroscience. It’s ‘Attention Amplifying’ music channels are scientifically designed to increase your focus and concentration


To Listen, Or Not To Listen?

The evidence seems pretty clear cut. Listening to your favourite music while you work can help increase your focus, concentration and improve your performance.

Whether you like country or classical, or, like author Stephen King you prefer listening to hard rock music while you work, if you want to boost your brain power, open up iTunes or stick on your favourite CD and find out what helps to keep you in the zone.

But if you’ve not yet tried listening to music while you work, bear in mind that research shows it can take some time to get used to it, so you may not reap the rewards immediately. Interestingly, once you’re used to listening while you work, be careful about taking it away or you may find your productivity and work quality suffers as a result!


The Twist Playlist

We asked the Twist team for their top three tunes that motivate them and help get their creative juices flowing:


Andrew Slack (Director): Goldfrapp – A&E, Aloe Blacc – I Need a Dollar, Lana Del Rey – Blue Jeans

Anja Hren (Brand Manager): David Bowie – Life on Mars? About Time soundtrack: About Time – How Long Will I Love You, Amy Winehouse – Valerie

Catherine Day (Brand Manager): Labrinth – Jealous, Oasis – Champagne Supernova, Slash – World on Fire

Chelsea Allenby (Digital Marketing Executive): I like to listen to Kygo Remixes on YouTube, and I also like pop remixed into dance, such as Heroes (We Could Be) – Cardio Workout Music Remix) Tribute to Alesso ft. Tove Lo, and Alanis Morissette – You Oughta Know (Robert Tornovsky Remix)

Darjan Panic (Creative Lead): White Stripes – Seven Nation Army, Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now, David Bowie – Magic Dance

Kirstie Eager (Operations Director): Taylor Swift – Blank Space, Simon & Garfunkel – Homeward Bound, Kygo Remix of I See Fire by Ed Sheeran

Rachel Romero (Copywriter): Michael Franti & Spearhead – The Sound of Sunshine, David Bowie – China Girl, Marilyn Manson – Third Day of a Seven Day Binge

Rui Matos (Brand Manager): Take That – Rule the World, U2 – Beautiful Day, Red Hot Chilli Peppers – Californication

Sandis Viksna (Brand Manager): I actually prefer working without music, but my top three would be Pharrell Williams – Happy, Taylor Swift – Shake it Off, Fergie – L.A. Love

Josephin Crichton (Affiliate Manager): Piano Guys (Adele – Rolling In The Deep and Coldplay – Paradise (Peponi) African Style), Ed Sheeran – I See Fire, Kyla La Grange – Cut Your Teeth (Kygo Remix)

Karla Villegas (Junior Affiliate Manager): The Beatles – A day in the life, Pearl Jam – Just Breathe, Diana Krall –  Narrow Daylight

Kristina Wragg (Compliance Administrator): David Bowie – Space Oddity, Braveheart – The Secret Wedding, Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk

Martyn Slack (Affiliate Manager): John Legend – All of Me, Ed Sheeran – Misty Mountains, Kings of Leon – Sex on Fire

Rachel Ashmore (Junior Affiliate Manager): Bonobo – Kong (a really interesting track which isn’t too distracting when you need to concentrate), MewithoutYou – February 1878 (because MewithoutYou’s Ten Stories album is my favourite album – it tells the story of a circus train crash and all the animals which consequently escape), Manchester Orchestra – I’ve Got Friends (one to wake you up when you’re doing something particularly mind-numbing!)

Vairo Kremanis (Paydot Director): Tiësto & Hardwell – Zero 76, Tiësto & Showtek – Hell Yeah, Tiësto – Maximal Crazy

Allan Mapletoft (Junior Developer): Gogol Bordello – Start Wearing Purple, Anathema – Lost Control, Rammstein – Seemann

David McCurdy (DevOps): Tool – Aenima, VNV Nation – Genesis, Gary Numan – I am Dust

Harmesh Uppal (Developer): Sub-Focus – Safe in Sound, Pendulum – Watercolour, Feeder – Come Back Around

Shafiq Tajbal (Project Manager): Michael Jackson – Rock With You, Justin Timberlake – Mirrors, Paolo Nutini – One Day

Shane Barker (Junior Developer): Green day – Basket Case, Elvis Presley – The Wonder of You, Wu Tang Clan – C.R.E.A.M

Agnese Viksna (Accounts Assistant): Mark Ronson – Uptown Funk, Frank Sinatra – I’ve got you under my skin, Apashe – No Twerk ft. Panther & Odalisk (for the gym)

Helen Beckett (Finance Manager): Pete Rodriguez – I Like it Like That, David Gray – Babylon, The Bad Shepards – Anarchy in the UK


Does listening to music help you work? Let us know your views and share your favourite motivational tunes with us in the comments section below.