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Playlists for Analysis

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At our recent User Conference, I had a really interesting conversation with some of our customers about listening to music at work which got me thinking about the types of music that people listen to in the office.  I know that different music works for different people, but I also know from personal experience that different music works for different situations. I listen to different music when I’m doing things like answering emails (or writing blog entries) than I do when I’m in the midst of an analysis.

Depending on your office, protocol for listening to music may be different, but in our office, it’s safe to say that the analysts are generally working with one ear to their music and one to the general office sounds. So my question became: “When you’re working hard on an analysis, what’s coming from the headphones?” I asked each of the analysts in our office to come up with a playlist that reflects the type of music they generally listen to when they want to get down to business. Here’s what our office is listening to:

Mike Laracy, Founder, CEO, and Data Geek:“Within the calmness of these songs, there’s a rhythmic intensity that I find helpful for thinking and analyzing (and occasionally for napping). But the songs in my selection also have bits and pieces that are extremely ‘rock-out-to-able’. Case in point, Beethoven’s 9th (4th movement). Don’t be afraid to blast it!!”

Jeff Fleischer, Director of Client Operations:
“I’m a soundtrack guy. I find vocals distract me if I’m trying to concentrate, so I stick with instrumentals. Here are some of the things I listen to.” [Note: Some of Jeff’s tracks weren’t on Spotify, like the soundtracks to the Flower and Journey video games.]

Caitlin Garrett, Statistical Analyst:
“This playlist is a pretty balanced representation of the music I listen to when I’m knee-deep in analysis mode. Most of these songs are pretty upbeat, but there are a few mellow ones thrown in (mostly Poolside tracks). The single thing I need in a playlist is a steady beat, which you’ll find throughout this list. Bands like Ratatat and Javelin get a lot of airtime on here because I like their genre of instrumental. I only took a handful of songs from each of them but their full albums make good standalone playlists as well.”

Jon MacMillan, Data Analyst:
“This playlist is all over the place, but that’s typically how I am when I really get down to work. The only prerequisiste for a song to make my playlist is that it maintains an upbeat tempo and catchy beat. This includes most notably Ratatat, Explosions in the Sky, and a little Daft Punk sprinkled in. As the title [‘Forget the Words’] suggests, forget the words and just listen to the music. The first track, All My Friends by LCD Soundsystem, is one of my favorite songs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to this song and yet still don’t know the lyrics, yet I can’t help but get excited when I hear that piano riff.”

If listening to music at work isn’t your thing, there’s been some researchwhich shows that ambient sounds can increase creativity. If working at a coffee shop isn’t an option, Coffitivity has you covered. Their website provides the same ambient noises that you’d hear at your local coffee shop without the distractions.

We’d love to know: what’s on your at-work playlist?

-Caitlin Garrett is a Statistical Analyst at Rapid Insight

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