Working as a designer does have one massive benefit compared to non-creative office jobs – you are likely to be allowed to listen to music while you work. This is great if you are a freelancer, or the boss, as you will always win any arguments over what should be played, but more troublesome for people just starting out on their career. Here are my tips for office music.
1. Instrumentals are preferable. When a client is on the phone, he or she will probably be less than impressed if everyone else in the office is shouting along to ‘Gangnam Style’.
2. Go for Albums, not singles. Nowadays mp3 players are prevalent, and this is not so important, but changing CD every 60 minutes is better than changing it every ten.
3. Don’t be too hipster, but do explore. The music that works in the background of an office is going to be literally ‘background music’, which means it’s going to be less pop and more obscure.
4. Go with the office vibe. If you share a musical interest with a co-worker, your share of air-time can be combined, and others may well pick up your taste after repeated listens. You would be amazed how many fans Ulrich Schnauss has gained through office airplay.
5. Ambience and Eno. When you need to concentrate on work, remain calm, and be creative, no piece of music is quite as useful as “Thursday Afternoon” by Brian Eno. An solid hour of synth drone and tuneless distant piano noodling might sound like a recipe for getting a CD thrown out of the nearest window, but actually it’s the perfect music for almost any office environment. Open this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UDA_bAlu00 turn the volume down a bit, and minimise the window. An hour later you’ll be feeling better, and you’ll have accomplished more than you normally do in an hour. There’s more where this came from too: Eno’s “Music for Airports” can lead you off into an exploration of the ambient / drone genres. If you want a bit more bite, try the legendary first ambient house album “Chill Out” by the KLF, it’s a million miles from their 9os pop/house hits, and a firm favourite in this office.
6. Be careful with that ‘follow the office vibe’ thing, you never know where you might end up. See if you can spot the author, and his then co-worker (now a top financial adviser) on this record sleeve by techno/rave/goth/situationists Sheep on Drugs: http://bandhits.co.uk/product.php?id_product=3200
Next up on the blog: Make your own Eno-style ambient album!