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A tune a day keeps the business at play

31st Jul 2009
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Studies have shown that listening to certain types of music while you work can improve morale – just stay away from thrash metal!

 ‘New research’, as press releases are often headed, can uncover all sorts of surprising facts and information. Sometimes, though, it just confirms what everybody already knows.

The latest appointment to the Ministry of the Bleedin' Obvious came this week from MusicWorks, an organisation linked to the PRS royalties service, which is seeking to promote the benefits of using music in the workplace for staff morale.

Apparently, their research revealed that 60% of employees enjoy improved morale when listening to good music.
They broke it down further: In the research of 2000 people, 71% wanted music played in the workplace:

  • 76% of employees working in retail claimed that staff morale was improved with good music.
  • This was more significant in warehouse workers, with almost 87% feeling boosted.
  • In general, 66% felt happier listening to music at work.

That statistical bombshell got me thinking, there have been many, many instances of research into the effects of music and musical preferences on personality, productivity, aggression. You name it, someone has probably studied it. Here are some interesting examples:

  • A student researcher named Dorothy Retallack tested the effects of various types of music on the growth of plants. She subjected one group of shrubs to classic rock music like Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin, and another group of poor innocent plants to jazz. Amazingly, when two weeks had passed, the jazz plants were healthy and bent toward the radio. The rock music plants grew very tall and droopy, with faded blooms, and most had died within 16 days. Make of that what you will...
  • The Association for Psychological Science reports that intelligence test scores grew higher in children who took lessons in keyboarding or singing from an early age. Also, in a similar study, boys between the ages of 6 and 15 who took music lessons scored higher on tests of verbal memory than a control group of students without musical training.
  • Experiments conducted in the 80s found that in both supermarkets and restaurants, slower music creates slower traffic flow, which means that people shop for longer in the supermarket and spend more time eating and drinking in the restaurant.
  • Some of the most publicised studies into whether listening to music increases productivity have centred on what has been termed the "Mozart effect". It has been found that listening to Mozart’s music may increase specific types of intelligence, particularly spatial-temporal abilities. Mozart’s music has also shown some benefits for those who suffer from epilepsy.
  • Music psychology researcher Julius Portnoy found that music can change metabolic rates, increase or decrease blood pressure, effect energy levels, and digestion, positively or negatively, depending on the type of music and the preferences of the listener. Calming music, such as classical music was found to have a very calming effect on the body, and cause the increase of endorphins, 30 minutes of such music was equal to the effect of a dose of valium.
  • A student named David Merrill played hits by the classic thrash metal band Anthrax to a group of mice continuously for 24-hours a day to see if it would affect their ability to learn a maze. Unfortunately the mice seemed to dislike the 80s thrash Gods, and the experiment was abandoned when they ended up killing each other.

So, we’ve established that people like listening to good music. We’ve also established that Mozart can make you cleverer, plants like jazz and mice really, really hate Anthrax. But what do we mean by 'good music'?

We’d like to compile an AccountingWEB.co.uk playlist; an eclectic selection of your favourite suggestions for musical accompaniment to work. Tell us the title of your favourite working song and the artist, and what it is about that particular tune that makes it good for working to.

Leave your suggestions below and who knows, perhaps we’ll release a compilation CD of accountants’ preferred musical selections.



Replies (9)

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By GaryMc
31st Jul 2009 09:59

Where to start?!
One of my favourites is Hocus Pocus by Focus

Complete wigout!!

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By Gina Dyer
31st Jul 2009 10:16

Dolly Parton!
Sageuk has just revealed on Twitter that they are currently listening to Islands in the Stream. You heard it here first!

As for the crew here at Sift towers, we aren't listening to anything right now - boo! As it's Friday I might crack out the classic Take That tunes later though...

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
31st Jul 2009 10:38

Explore Spotify - if your boss & colleauges will let you!

What a great post - and one that revives a proud AccountingWEB.co.uk tradition.

My first observation is to pass on something I heard on Radio 4 on Saturday morning, that US troops in Afghanistan listened to violent thrash metal to get them in the mood before going on patrol. Maybe best to avoid that genre before engaging with HMRC helplines, then.

Much like GaryMc, my tastes veer towards the more antique wing of classic rock, with a healthy side-order of psychedelic, folky sounds from the 60s. Cue a link into Spotify, the internet music sensation that all the kids have been telling me about.

You register for the free service, download a small client program to your computer and get instant access to an online streaming jukebox of humongous proportions. Trying to remember some half-forgotten disco anthem from your youth, or a particularly obscure prog act that you used to love, but that disappeared from your collection when you cleared away your vinyl? Type the song title or artist into the Spotify search box and more often than not you'll hit paydirt. You can then create your own playlists or just chuck songs into the Spotify queue for a neverending stream of sonic surprises and pleasures.

I'm a bit lazy about the queuing, so my technique is to find an artist I like and then scroll down their discography until I find a track on a big compilation album. This has brought me to delights such as Meet Me on the Ledge, the Island folk box set (Fairport, John Martyn, Nick Drake) and Forever Changing: The Golden Age of Elektra Records, which has 100+ tracks by the likes of Love, Tim Buckley and the Holy Modal Rounders.

Wigout indeed, baby! 

(Sadly I am unable to make any sensible claims about what this stuff is doing for my productivity)
John Stokdyk, Technology editor

PS - On behalf of the press release sponsors, I would point out that while Spotify is legit (you can pay $10 to upgrade to a Premium service that banishes the ads and some of the money raised finds its way to the labels and artists), I would caution against playing it out loud to entertain your colleagues - that might well violate the PRS policy on public performances).

PPS - Don't forget to tell us the tunes and artists you'd recommend for the AccountingWEB.co.uk Friday Afternoon Spotify Playlist.

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By weaversmiths
31st Jul 2009 12:50

Music While You Work
Does anyone realise how much firms have to pay to the PRS (Performing Rights Society) for staff to listen to music in the workplace? The answer is megabucks. It is an absolute ripoff as the money does not end up with the performers as the PRS has no idea what employees are listening to. Of course, there is the PPL to pay as well. My office used to be at the rear of my husband's China Shop and Restaurant where music was playing. We paid our dues to the PRS who had the audacity to send a long form to complete demanding a copy of our accounts, numbers of rooms, toilets, staff, customers, etc etc. When I telephoned asking them to point me in the direction of the legislation requiring me to produce this private information they back pedalled extremely quickly, fumbled an excuse and rang off. This statement the PRS have made is just to get more dues in and nothing to do with employees' welfare at work. One of my clients was taken to Court by the PRS because she had a line dance club and did not have a licence with the PRS to play music in public - the fine was £1200. She did not know she needed one; another case of igorance is no defense in law.


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By weaversmiths
31st Jul 2009 12:54

Music While you Work
Incidentally, I work from home and listen to The Rock Radio via the Internet most of the time. I work much better to Metallica, AC/DC, WASP, Alice Cooper, Motorhead etc. (:-).


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By Anonymous
31st Jul 2009 14:14

Music While You Work
Two quick points.

Fox and Embrey (1973?) and Embrey & Fox (1974?) suggested that music was best used with repetitive tasks, and that the more familiar the listener was with the music, the more complex a task he or she could perform while listening. also the more complex the task, the more quickly the music caused the performance to deteriorate.

Secondly, can anyone tell me why did HMRC Central Yorkshire Area use the tack "White Flag" by Dido as their music on hold?

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Nigel Harris
By Nigel Harris
31st Jul 2009 14:29

Spotify or Planet Rock? - it's a close call
I'm with John S on music genres, although I probably veer away from the folkier stuff towards blues. My Spotify playlists include an eclectic mixture from Brad Paisley and Sonny Landreth to Elmore James and The Beachboys.

When net traffic or our dodgy ADSL connection let me down I resort to Planet Rock on my DAB radio, so it's 70s rock all the way!

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By shaunmcguinness
05th Aug 2009 10:18

Music makes the world go around!
i listen to anything from trance, reggae, rock and a wide variety in between!
Currently listening to The Chemical Brothers which seems to make me work faster and lose my usual hunger pangs!

Hampshire Accountants
Basingstoke Accountants

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By Ned Ludd
19th Aug 2009 12:33

Music while you dont work!
can be distracting if a couple of faves come on.

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