April 24, 2024

Productivity Unlocked: The Best Music to Work To

At home. In the car. At work. At the gym. Music is quite literally the soundtrack to our lives. It enhances our mood wherever we go and helps us relax at the end of the day. Now the research is showing us that music not only feels good to listen to, it actually could make us more productive at work.

88% of people produce more accurate work when listening to music

But can any old tune work, or is there a certain genre that supercharges your focus in the office? Below, we share the best music to work to – backed by science and research. We’ll also share what tunes we’re turning up on the Canopy Fitouts office speaker (along with a few ‘headphones on’ solo selections). Open up Spotify and let’s get the listening session started.

The Benefits of Listening to Music While Working

Listening to music while working offers a myriad of benefits for productivity and well-being. It can:

  • Enhance Focus: Music can drown out distractions and create a conducive environment for concentration.
  • Boost Mood: Upbeat or soothing melodies can elevate mood and reduce stress, leading to a more positive work experience.
  • Increase Motivation: The right music can energise and inspire, motivating you to tackle tasks with renewed vigour and enthusiasm.
  • Spark Creativity: Certain types of music can stimulate creativity and imagination, leading to innovative solutions and ideas.

The Science Behind Listening to Music

The benefits of listening to music while working on studying have been thoroughly studied in recent years. Does music help you get in the zone, or is it just a distracting illusion of concentration? 

To understand the benefits of listening to music, it is helpful to think about music like coffee. We drink coffee for enjoyment, and we listen to music for those same reasons. We also drink coffee as part of our morning ritual, a way to signal the brain that it’s time to get into ‘work mode’. Lastly, coffee is a natural stimulant, inviting the brain to enter a more alert, concentrated, and energetic state. 

Studies have shown that music can also act as a primer, stimulating similar areas of the brain as your cup of coffee does. When done habitually across the same genres or playlists, this effect compounds signalling your brain to focus on the upcoming task.

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Factors to Consider When Choosing Music for Work

When selecting music for work, start with your personal preferences. Music that you’re already familiar with will be more enjoyable to listen to eliciting a feel-good response as you head into your next task.

Some prefer instrumental music while others lean into lyrical listening. Your personal preference can enhance your listening experience, but you should also keep in mind that some music is easier to listen to than others. As our brains are naturally drawn to speech recognition, lyrical music could become a distraction at higher noise levels. On the other hand, instrumental music can seem easier to listen to, particularly for tasks that require verbal processing, reading, or writing. 

If you’re playing music in the office, keep in mind that noise sensitivities will vary across your team. If private space is limited in your office you’ll have to adjust the volume to strike a balance between engaging background tunes and distraction. You’ll also want to select a playlist that most in the office might enjoy. 

Lastly, tempo can also influence concentration levels. Upbeat, lyrical music may be suitable for simple, repetitive tasks. For deeper work, slower melodies with repeating patterns may help to dial in focus on a task.

Genres and Styles of Music for Different Tasks

Different genres and styles of music can complement various tasks and work environments:


Known for its soothing qualities, classical music is ideal for tasks that require concentration and focus, such as writing or problem-solving. While compositionally complex music in other genres tends to be hard to listen to, this does not apply to classical music. Listening to this genre invokes a sense of euphoria, relaxation, and focus. 

LoFi Beats & Instrumentals

Short for low-fidelity, this genre highlights intentional imperfections (either real or manufactured) in recorded music. The hiss of a tape player, the sound of a record skipping, and more analog sounds create a ‘white noise effect’ helping listeners tune into the task at hand. Songs are typically instrumental, with jazz samples looped repeatedly across a hip-hop drum kit. 


Ambient electronic music offers a contemporary and atmospheric backdrop for tasks that require a modern and dynamic environment, such as graphic design or coding. Often used in combination with binaural beats, songs in this genre take up a lot of metaphorical space, with long rolling notes followed by moments of silence. These patterns induced a meditative-like state, sparking creativity in listeners.

Film & Video Game Soundtracks

Listening to film and video game soundtracks can make you feel like the main character in a story of your choosing. Soundtracks often combine elements from multiple genres to tap into the viewer/gamer’s concentration. Video game music in particular is designed to help players concentrate on certain moments of the playthrough.

These epic effects are amplified inside a work setting, motivating listeners to power through the day and achieve their goals. Listening to familiar soundtracks further amplifies this effect.

Pink & White Noise

Can’t decide on a genre? Why not listen to every audible frequency, at once?

It may sound overwhelming, but white noise (and its deeper counterpart, pink noise) is one of the most focus-enhancing genres around. Similar to fan sounds or the hum of your refrigerator, white noise is continuous, flat-frequency ‘music’. It is particularly effective at blocking out external noise common in collaborative workspaces and does not disturb the mind's concentration.

Nature Sounds

This genre brings the peacefulness of nature into the workplace. Nature sounds playlists incorporate recordings of the environment such as waves, flowing rivers, birds, rainfall, wind, and other forces of nature. Sometimes these sounds are laid on top of an instrumental recording.

Upbeat or ‘Feel Good’ Songs

For repetitive tasks that demand energy and motivation, upbeat music can provide a lively soundtrack to keep you engaged and productive. ‘Feel Good’ playlists are usually stacked with easy-listening tunes and pop hits that most everyone will know. In more extroverted offices, these upbeat songs deliver a shot of positive energy, recollecting focus once the afternoon lull hits.

Coffee Shop Sounds

What is it about coffee shops that transform procrastinators into productivity wizards? It might just be the ambience. Coffee shop sounds are recordings of the cafe environment. The sound of a steam wand revving up. Change jingling as money exchanges hands. In audible small talk. Squeaky doors and baristas relaying orders.

Why are these random sounds so effective at helping listeners stay productive? The science says that when the volume is tuned just right, random noise can have significantly positive effects on our concentration. If you want to try any of these playlists out on your next deep work session be mindful of headphone volume; too high or too low and any perceived productivity benefits will disappear.

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Our Playlist Recommendations

The focus music genre is always expanding, so you won’t have a hard time finding a playlist that matches your musical tastes while working. To get you started, here are some of our favourite Spotify playlists for getting work done. Some are better suited for solo work while others may strike the right chord with the entire office. Here’s to easy listening!


Feelin' Good

Happy Hits!


Mello Lofi Morning

Boom Bap Focus

Epic Sounds

Soundtracks for Studying

Classical Essentials

Iconic Soundtracks

Relaxing Focus

House Focus

Chilled Focus

Focus with Nature Sounds

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Tips for Creating Your Own Work Playlist

Create your personalised work playlist with these tips:

  • Mix It Up: Include a variety of genres and styles to cater to different moods and tasks throughout the day.
  • Experiment with Tempo: Alternate between fast-paced and slower tempo tracks to match the rhythm of your work.
  • Consider Collaborative Playlists: Encourage team collaboration by creating shared playlists where team members can contribute their favourite tracks.
  • Stay Updated: Refresh your playlist regularly with new additions to keep your listening experience fresh and engaging.
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What The Critics Say

Some also say that while playing music can boost productivity, it can also hinder it. To overcome this, it’s best to create a playlist that includes genres that all employees enjoy. This has been shown to boost performance across the office, with some repetitive tasks completed significantly faster than without music.

Want to start reaping the benefits? Grab a wireless speaker, connected to the office wifi and let everybody share their favourite tunes within a collaborative office playlist.

Elevate Your Workday with the Perfect Soundtrack

Just like coffee, music is a mood-boosting companion here to guide you throughout the work day. With the right soundtrack, you can transform mundane tasks into moments of inspiration, creativity, and achievement. The best music to work to is the one that resonates with you and enhances your unique work experience. So, tune in, turn up the volume, and let the music carry you to new heights of productivity and success.

At Canopy Fitouts we create inspiring workplaces optimised for productivity. To learn more about our award-winning fitouts, check out our work here. To learn more about how a fitout can optimise your office fitout for productivity and efficiency, read this guide or speak to our team today.