What’s playing in your headphones while you code?

Updated on Sep 29, 2017

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A mix of ambient, electronic and jazz. Disparition, explosions in the sky, Adam Young, Miles Davis and Antonio Carlos Jobim.

My own playlist.

More than 600 songs. A mix of Chill, Underground Hip Hop/Rap, Kpop, v a p o r w a v e, Metal, Rock, Dubstep, PERATE METAL of course. and a lot more.

Mostly instrumentals because the lyrics can sometimes distract me and lead to a solo performance that no one needs or wants to hear.

Here are some of those:


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  • Black Metal
  • Trash Metal
  • Folk Metal
  • Power Metal
  • Heavy Metal
  • Nu Metal
  • Symphonic Metal
  • Death Metal

There is another kind of music?

Prog Metal. Otherwise you are missing Dream Theater, Devin Townsend, Leprous, Haken. And what kind of life is that?

Almost anything from Beatles to Taylor Swift to Daft Punk to Rachmaninoff when writing boilerplate code or simple stuff, but I need total silence when writing complex algorithms or debugging, so I always carry a couple of rubber ear plugs from hardware stores.

Code Your Face Off playlist on Google Play Music is fun. Although, it helps me only when I know what I'm doing 0_o

Right now Lost on You by LP. What I listen to varies with my mood and what I am working on.

Usually heavy and high-energy. Usually metal. I put together some of my favorites albums and removed anything that wasn't high-tempo: open.spotify.com/user/mikengarrett...

If you're looking for somethign new, here's the best metal releases from 2016: open.spotify.com/user/mikengarrett...

Oh yes, metal, dubstep or anything high energy. An absolute must!

Exactly the same here. It works so well.

Same here, preferably with harsh, mostly indecipherable vocals. Prevents me from getting distracted by the lyrics.

Agreed.... metal of all kinds, though I tend to shy away from doom/black/death...

The entire soundtrack to the Lord of the Rings trilogy is great. A day of writing code can sometimes feel like a bare-footed journey from the comfort of the Shire to an ork-surrounded volcano via the lair of a giant man-eating spider, so it's really quite thematically appropriate: youtu.be/_SBQvd6vY9s

Yes! Bit too dark sometimes but works great anytime after lunch

I usually forget to put headphones on. Once I start coding time flies and I forget about music. When I do remember, I find music without too much lyrics does the trick. Mogwai is a good band to listen to.

You must not work in an open office!

I recently got into the sound track from The Social Network movie and I find it to be the perfect mix of tempo for me. I definitely recommend it. Great sound track in and of itself, but also reminiscent of a movie all about building a pretty damn popular website.

Likewise. Great choice for coding.

Such a great soundtrack, I can never skip it when it comes on!

Great album, as almost any OST by Trent Reznor. I also enjoy listening to Lost Girl and Before the flood ones.

I'm usually creeping my spotify discover playlist for Liquid / DnB tracks, and chill EDM. Nice, ethereal background.

Very similar. Chilled dubstep, a lot of instrumental hip-hop (anything by Blue Sky Black Death!) ambient tracks. I try to stay away from action movie soundtracks because the turns of pace make me anxious.

So you're usually looking for new tracks, or do you listen to the same ones a lot?

It's about a 50/50 split. When I really need to focus, I use songs I know I like from my saved (most of which came from discover). When I can focus a little less, I casually look for new ones.

Seriously, within seconds into listening to the focus mode, I get thrice the concentration level. In about 30 minutes I'm almost in a trance. I recommend taking breaks from time to time, though; if I listen to it for too long I feel weird and disconnected from the reality.

  • Fastfall Dustforce OST
  • Tron/Tron Remix
  • Chipzel/FantomenK/EnV (electronic, not rap)
  • Dunderpatrullen/Rymdkraft/Bossfight
  • Lindsey Stirling
  • Moby (esp Play)
  • Fatboy Slim
  • The Glitch Mob
  • 65daysofstatic
  • Anamanaguchi - Endless Fantasy
  • Muse
  • David Guetta - Nothing But The Beat disc 2
  • Ludovico Einaudi - Divenire
  • Mortal Kombat: Annihilation (as embarrassing as that is)
  • Papa Roach/Disturbed/Evanescence ...probably more

Ludovico Einaudi! I love Divenire, especially when I'm frustrated by something. I haven't tried Lindsey Stirling while working, but I'll have to now!

Love the range there. Add the Atmospheric Black Metal playlist from Spotify and Netsky dnb stuff. Mood dependant always.

The Skyrim soundtrack (or any Elder Scrolls ones) as well as electronic or ambient music usually.

This! Spotify has a good collection.

Anything by Jeremy Soule is good.

  • Blizzard game Soundtracks
  • Hans Zimmer
  • Aphex Twin
  • 65daysofstatic
  • Celldweller

According to last.fm, I mostly listen to Ambient, Electronic & Jazz. Artists like:

  • Nils Frahm
  • Ólafur Arnalds
  • Gustavo Santaolalla
  • Floating Points
  • Rival Consoles
  • Boards of Canada
  • GoGo Peguin
  • Bonobo

and many others.

I used brain.fm previously, and while it works it can get tiring after a few weeks of listening to the same drone sounds. Too me what most helps me get into flow is calm, smooth, deep background music.

Depend on the mood but here's my overall genres

  • Psychedelic Rock
  • New Age
  • 80's, 70's, 60's and 50's in general
  • Metal
  • Classic Music

== Geek Stuff Incoming ==

  • Movies OST
  • Video games OST
  • Anime OST

I mostly find any music with lyrics, etc. is sometimes too distracting.

So ambient / electronic is always nice.

Also, I've always found SomaFM Defcon music - is always good.

I like SomaFM. I made a simple page for me to listen Groove Salad :)


It can be anything really, mostly pop and hip hop; sometimes k-pop, or classic rock or big band. What I tend to do is play the same songs over and over and over again.

Anytime my music starts up after being stopped, I start at the beginning of one giant Spotify playlist I've been adding to over the years. I know how many times I've been interrupted by how often I've heard the first song today, or how deep into the playlist I got.

Noise Cancelling headphones without the music (QC35, previously QC15). I've tried many things like brain.fm, focus zen, simply noise, focusmusic.fm - all of them became boring after 2-3 weeks.

I also have a 'debugging' playlist on spotify - when I need less concentration. 'Fast' music without vocals - liquid Drum 'n' Bass, Daft Punk's TRON: Legacy OST. Sometimes i switch to classical music when I'm working on something frustrating - Tchaikovsky symphony 5, Vivaldi Four Seasons, Camille Saint-Saens or Prokofiev Romeo and Juliet.

I like to thing of myself as die hard death metal fan, but I can't code with this music.

case 1:
Atmospheric/ Epic/ Ambient Metal
case 2:
Post Grunge/ Stoner Rock
case 3:
Old School Rap/Hiphop/RnB/Pop/Electro
case 4:
The Weekend haha
Shuffle all

  • Ludovico Einaudi
  • Mattia Cupelli
  • Ramin Djawadi
  • Zack Hemsey
  • John Powell
  • Byetheway-May
  • Iván Torrent
  • Tartalo Music
  • Kai Engel
  • Kevin MacLeod
  • Harry Gregson-Williams

Yes, I like obscure instrumental artists. Any more anyone can recommend?

You don't have Max Richter or Yann Tiersen on this list? I'm surprised. Also: Johann Johannsson, Nathan Barr and the Sunshine OST (John Murphy!)

Oh hey look, my playlists just grew by a couple hundred songs! Thanks a ton!

I actually do have some stuff from John Murphy. I just didn't stick it on the list because the number of songs was so low compared to those other ones.

Depends on the day, but I really like those lo-fi hip hop streams on Youtube. You know, the ones with the looped old anime backgrounds? youtube.com/watch?v=h8W73zB4VMM

I also enjoy liquid dubstep/chillstep. Anything that's relatively low tempo and mostly instrumental, really.

I tried listening to the music I usually like while working (mostly rock), but felt I was concentrating on the music instead of my work.

Zachtronics' games soundtracks, e.g. SHENZHEN I/O OST: zachtronics.bandcamp.com/album/she...

Some Ben Prunty, e.g. Cipher: benprunty.bandcamp.com/album/ciphe...

In general, preference for electronica.

Metal, 90's rock (nirvana, pearl jam, alice in chains, etc), tons of hip hop (E40, Too $hort, Snoop, Dre, Biggie, etc), Alt rock/Indie (Coheed and cambria, Spoon, Arcade fire, The Shins, etc), and finally sometimes I will put on various forms of electronic music, but I tend not to pay too much attention to who the artist is.

Am I the only one listening to Interstellar OST? It's pure bliss, it takes us to whole new dimension.

Electronic. Dubstep, Trance, Techno, whatever. Lots of Lindsey Stirling, actually.

It totally depends on the situation. When i am in a greenfield project i like to hear some electronic tunes. I like things without lyrics like Jean-Michel Jarre or Rival Consoles. Or on other occasions i really enjoy David Hicken (piano artist which if you did not know him you should definitely check it out ).

If i'll have to bugfix something in a legacy code base (it happens from time to time) i sometimes need some energetic or aggressive tunes. E.g. Carpenter Brut or The Algorithm are quite good for this kind of work. Even though sometimes i hear music with lyrics i find it most of the time distracting while coding.

    music = randomPickOne([
    "keygens music compilation", 
    "Epic music", // (Hans Zimmer)
    "Game OST remix/compilation", //(mirror edge is awesome)
    "Electro house/chill"

Working in an open office means headsets with noise cancellation is a must. I used to listen to well-known Rock / metal music. I've found more that the more variation there is, the easier it is to et distracted.

After discovering mindfulness I've started enjoying silence, and that's the music of my choice these days: silence (noise cancellation almost works for that)

I've found the TRON / Social Network soundtracks to be quite enjoyable when not doing brain-taxing work.

Sharing my personally curated EDM/Electronic music playlist here (has almost 600 songs and growing. I also update it almost every day). I listen to it everyday and it works well for me!


It depends. There are days, where I listen to Deep House / Tropical House Mixes and on other days I need something that pushes me more, then it'll be Drum and Bass or some Hardrock.

From my experience, songs without vocals - or songs with vocals that are harder to understand work better for me, since I find it very distracting if I subconsciously listen to the lyrics :)

Currently, I like this playlists:

For focussed work I prefer Indie-Game-Sountracks (e.g. C418, Austin Wintory, Disasterpiece), mostly easy and silent stuff.
For easier stuff like styling, markup and handling tickets I listen to podcasts or audio-books.

I like Orbital. If it has a decent beat and I can ignore what few vocals there are, it'll work. Metal is great, esp Dio-era Sabbath.

I like jazz IRL, but while coding, it demands your attention in ways that just don't work.

In my office we don't use headphones because it encourages individualism, but we always have background music. Monday and Tuesday we have quiet music like reggae, rock or pop, Wednesdays and Thursdays we listen more moved music as house or reggeton and Friday pure party music.

Vitamin string quartet is my go-to when programming. They do instrumental covers of popular songs. You get all of the catchy beats/rhythms without any of the distracting words.

I also try to have Coffitivity running as well just to give that ambient noise creative boost.

If I listen to anything (I work from home pretty much exclusively, so usually not) it has to be something I know so well my brain won’t be distracted. As a former music major, even classical music can distract me if it’s unfamiliar because my brain begins trying to analyze it, understand its structure, etc. So, I have some go-to albums or pieces that I can listen to while coding because I know them so well, mostly from my college years when I still had time to listen to new music. Here are a few:

  • Understand This Is A Dream by The Juliana Theory
  • 40 Acres by Caedmon’s Call
  • Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring Suite
  • Speakeasy by Stavesacre
  • Anthem by Less Than Jake
  • Slowly Going The Way of the Buffalo by MxPx
  • Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez

In the absence of this, I will sometimes also put on Coffitivity as a sort of hum of noise if I’m in a noisy environment. coffitivity.com/

For some reason, if I really need to concentrate and get stuff done, Pink Floyd's "Animals" album is my go-to. I suspect it's some combination of the fact that I like it, but also that it has a bit of a trance-like nature to it that does not pull my attention away from what I'm working on.

Most of the time nothing. You know, you have the headphones on but you forget that for some reason or another you forgot to turn the music on.

A while back I read a post where Oliver Emberton shared his music list on spotify and so I have been using that. The main attraction is they most are instrumentals so they do not distract me

I like to code with rock (heavy metal, power metal, progressive, rock and roll, Psychedelic) but sometimes when the coding session is intense I switch to electronic. I think the difference relies on the tasks and my mood. I'm big fan of Armin Van Buuren, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk; and of course good music comes with a nice pair of headphones. I recommend Bose QC25 or QC35

while coding or writing i find that i can't listen to people saying words; that includes podcasts or new music. but i can listen to music that i've known for a long time -- i can even sing along with stuff i know by heart, while i type new writing or code.

EDM ..... Daft Punk, Ship Wrek, Tobu, Marshmallow, Jinco, and a ton of other artists. Anything with a dope beat and not too many words to think about. I also have a tendency to listen to the same song on repeat for 12+ hours straight during coding sprints and Hackathons. That’s how I get into a flow state. 💯💯💯

Usually either nothing, some random psycore (mostly from ektoplazm.com/style/psycore - music on CC licences), or various Japanese music from my own collection: Maeda Jun, Yaginuma Satoshi (fripSide / ALTIMA), Kawada Mami, Gin'iro Haruka OST, YUI, Hayashibara Megumi, Hamasaki Ayumi.

All sorts of music, depending on my mood. Heavy metal, ambient (8bit ambient is pretty cool), classical music...
I find soundtracks to be particularly immersive, especially video game soundtracks - Bastion, Sword and Sworcery and Journey are amongst my favorites.

I listen to instrumentals of christian music especially: youtube.com/watch?v=rvo4P0SfBOw&li...

Recently I'm hooked to some Nigerian gospel mix: youtube.com/watch?v=fHWCE054TEM

I generally stick to one song on repeat for an entire day. It gives me that repetitive backdrop to direct my attention in my code.

On any given day, a few things may be playing:

  • A playlist of my current favorite songs
  • NPR / TED talks
  • White/"Coffee-shop" noise
  • Nothing, I'm just wearing headphones so people don't talk to me.

Trance, primarily from DI.fm. I'm a big fan of their Vocal Trance and Epic Trance channels. I'm usually either streaming one of those two channels, or listening to songs I first heard on those channels and added to my collection.

Progressive metal, usually. Either instrumental or with near-undecipherable growls--lyrics are distracting. Animals as Leaders, Cloudkicker, Fallujah, The Atlas Moth, Opeth, Vektor. The list could go for days. Sometimes I'll switch it up and listen to video game soundtracks, or occasionally, some podcasts if I'm doing something lighter

Gazelle Twin, Disasterpeace, Andy Stott, Headless Horseman, soundtracks that fall into the "weird electronica/ambient" category (e.g. Arrival, Mr. Robot, Stranger Things, We Know the Devil)—I figured out a while back that I do best working to music that's like... slightly jarring white noise that's minimally distracting but not too soothing.

Either that or really bright upbeat K-pop. I don't really have an in-between, ha ha.

I listen to soundtracks for the most part.
Movies: The Lord of The Rings, Unbreakable, Road to Perdition, Ex Machina, Planet Earth Part 2 to name a few.
Games: Journey, Assassin's Creed Revelations and Dead Space 3 are my top choices in this category.
I also use some of Google's Play Music channels like Trappy Instrumentals, Soft Trap Beats, Downtempo Instrumentals and Classic Ambient.

I can't believe nobody has mentioned Bach yet. Beethoven. Mozart.
Also a big fan of Radio Dismuke -- davidgagne.net/2017/02/27/radio-di...

And, yes, the Social Network soundtrack is great.

I love coding in silence, and I do it whenever possible. It can bring my concentration to the levels I will never reach with music: if I listen to some new recommended music, then occasional intrusive and lyrics-rich tracks are inevitable; if I listen to something I already listened to, some tracks distract me with associated memories.
When coding in silence is not possible, I usually turn on some noise or find playlists for coding, depending on current mood.

Dragonforce, Helion Prime, Halestorm, Rise Against, if I want something hard-hitting with guitar and drums.

Danny Baranovsky, MDK if I feel a need for an electronic beat.

Or soundtracks from any number of movies and games (seriously, check out the Horizon Zero Dawn OST, it's gorgeous).

Occasionally some Simple Plan, a bit of J-pop, Tokelauan band Te Vaka comes up, and a weird, eclectic mixture of things.

It varies for me. Most anything can work, as long as:

  1. I don't feel a need to sing-along
  2. The lyrics are not the dominant part (vocals - OK; not the lyrics)

And for your extreme focus needs - Terraforming by Wide Eyes looping over and over and over.

I work out of a home office and tend not to use headphones, maybe I should try that though.

Nonetheless, I usually listen to something in the "Focus" mood of Spotify, trying something new each time that I run through an entire playlist. I do find that I am most focused/productive when listening to songs that do not have lyrics played. One thing that I use to love listening to was the Daft Punk - Tron Legacy album/soundtrack (youtube.com/watch?v=OIM8RxaK5rE)

If you want ambient background noise I can't recommend this site enough - dozens of constantly varying soundscape generators...

All the samples are designed so you never get repetition and you can adjust the frequency balance for optimal distraction blocking (because Janet in Accounts has a voice that occupies 10KHz...)

If you donate a bit of £/$ (no minimum), it helps pay for the bandwidth and support the guy who runs it. He's sourcing sounds in person and everything is top quality.

When I need to focus (designing an algorithm for example) I'll have this on. Otherwise if it's straightforward plugging Bootstrap templates together Chillstep/Chillhop/Vocal Trance makes me code a bit faster :)

Movies : [The fight club, Scott Pilgrim, Matrix],
Series : [GoT, Veep, Silicon Valley,Seinfeld, mr Robot, How I meet your mother]
Sports : [Old sport events, soccer, basketball,baseball],

I dont use music to code, because I cant listen songs I dont like, and it doesnt matter the artist, no all the songs are good, so I need to skip the song, I cant do that each 3 min, movies and series works better for me.

i like a variety of things classical or choir music, acoustic guitar tunes, classic rock, taylor swift, 80s...

but only if i'm coding. if i'm reading up on something, then i need silence. even violins are distracting. :)

I usually search for some keywords like dubstep, glitch, gaming, epic music (yes, you already guess it: I'm not a metal guy). I really like how the violin sounds, so right now I'm listening to Lindsey Stirling

It depends, I have 2 programming moods, depending on whether there are strong theoretical background to what I have to code or not (for scientific projects at school), I use classical, or a mix of punk/pop/rock/alternative

You want full list or something specific? I'll give you a scoop.
Crapton of synthwave/newwave, jpop+jrock, some vgm osts for good measure.
It really depends on the task and the general mood, but here's a few examples:
"Droid Bishop - lost in symmetry" album
Uplink ost
Various Jpop/Jrock (usually OPs), to example - Slayers Try Ost (treasury vox), or jam project discography
Little big adventure ost
Legend of kyrandia 2 ost
Panorama Cotton Ost
Super Hydelide ost (out of freedom, chaos separator and light metal specifically)
Crusader - No remorse/no regret ost
Big Pharma ost
Theme Hospital ost
Planet mule theme
F.T.L. ost (including extended version with Hacking malfunction and Lost ship)
Raiden 1 ost
Tyrian Ost

And that's to name a few. My collection grows month by month C:

Also no headphones - 5.1 system. Easier on the head.

I will normally listen to something along the lines of 'chill' music. I find it relaxing and it helps me focus.

I will also occasionally throw in a random song that doesn't fit with the rest of them once in a while, because I just found the song or just remembered it from a while back.

The list that I have is always changing. I find a song, listen to it way too much, and then it gets boring. So I will always go through Spotify's Discover weekly playlist, and that will usually have a good song or two.

Currently, I'm listening to remixes by (DJ) Vanic - Make Me Fade, Can't Sleep & The Cops are my favourites. I have a song or two by K.Flay, a song or two by Lil Dicky, and not too much else. This is sure to be different by this time next week though.

Depends on the day. Today it's Jimmie Bratcher. :)

Other days it's been some mix of Hendrix, Chickenfoot, Audioslave, Joe Bonnamassa. Some times it's a bit of Ozzy and Metallica. I break out the classical from time to time.

I think the only type of music not represented in my collection is rap. Just doesn't appeal to me.

I usually listen to Metal: HardCore, MetalCore, Post HardCore, Death Metal, symphonic Metal, you name it. :)
I listen to albums on my phone. I regularly check Apple Music for new releases of bands I know or similar/recommended bands.
It pushes me forward and blocks out the sounds of our office (~25 people).

Well... There's a bit of everything. It's usually fast instrumental music from many artists on the Internet, like F-777 or Waterflame (just to name a few). And there are some musics on Soundtrack that are great too.

Also listening to a bit of Undertale soundtrack (it's a great one) and remixes of it.

On Todo list: make a proper playlist or some kind of album of coding music

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