Jason Morehead

If you ever tour Firespring’s offices, you’ll inevitably see many of us hunched over our computers, sifting through lines of code, pushing pixels around or working our way through project task lists and client emails. And chances are, we’ll all be wearing earbuds and headphones.

It may be tempting to chalk that up to our misanthropy and lack of people skills, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Here at Firespring, we place a high value on collaboration. (We wouldn’t be able to have each other’s backs otherwise.) And while some of us are introverts, we’re not trying to shut out human contact with the help of Spotify.

Put simply, music helps us work better.

Numerous studies have shown that music affects our minds and emotions, and does so in ways that can boost overall performance and efficiency. Listening to music with lyrics can help you with repetitive tasks because lyrics “provide a kind of relief from the monotony of boring work.” On the other hand, music without lyrics, such as classical or ambient music, helps “when working on tasks that require intense focus or the learning of new information.”

So, what exactly are Firespringers listening to in order to help us through the work day? Not surprisingly, given the size of our company, our listening routines and playlists are pretty diverse, and run the gamut from podcasts and soundtracks to country and electronica.

I prefer more ambient and atmospheric music because it provides a nice, relaxing backdrop for whatever work I’m doing. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying new albums from Slowdive, Grails and Nico Niquo. Other favorites for when I’m up to my elbows in HTML, CSS and JavaScript include Steve Roach, Makeup and Vanity Set, vidnaObmana, Love Spirals Downwards, Cocteau Twins and Dream Catalogue’s excursions into vaporwave.

Some of Jason Bush’s recent favorites include Aaron Lewis’ Sinner (“It reminds me of the music my mom listened to when I was a kid, old school country sound”), Gemini Syndrome’s Memento Mori (“If you’re looking for an adrenaline boost, these guys may be able to provide that for you.”) and the didgeridoo-enhanced hard rock of Like a Storm’s Awaken the Fire. (Jason, by the way, enjoys making music too.)

Dylan Matthews is a country music fan who frequently checks out Spotify’s “Hot Country” and “New Boots” playlists. (Thomas Rhett, Eric Church and Kenny Chesney are among his favorites.) But he’ll put on some old school Tech N9ne when he needs a little extra bass to get over the mid-afternoon hump. Similarly, Brophy Ringdahl turns to Eminem and old school gangsta rap whenever he needs the energy to make it through a particularly stressful workload.

When Melissa Ward is feeling stressed and needs to bring down the blood pressure, though, she prefers George Winston’s instrumental piano music or some binaural beats. The rest of the time, she’s checking out Spotify playlists like “90s Rock Renaissance,” “The Happy Hipster,” and “The Nu-Modern.” But when she’s working after-hours and has the office to herself, Melissa likes to cut loose, unplug the headphones and blast some ‘80s hair metal: “It's cathartic and goes especially well with Chinese take-out at your desk. Plus it drowns out the sound of that damn 3D printer.”

Jeff Ray lives for the bass drop; he’s all about dubstep artists like Monstercat, OWSLA and Nick Thayer. Meanwhile, David Dovel jumps around between film scores, electronic and hard rock music, chiptunes, Irish and Celtic music, video game soundtracks and bluegrass. Nathan Hamel’s tastes also range far and wide, from Daft Punk to Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds and Sonic Youth to Kendrick Lamar.

However, Firespringers aren’t always listening to music. Dylan is one of our resident baseball fanatics and actually prefers listening to baseball games while he works; in his opinion, “Listening to baseball commentators is an underrated art.” Doug McClure will often have a Twitch stream in the background, or a YouTube playthrough of various video games like Dark Souls, Rocket League or Overwatch.

Podcasts are pretty popular too. Doug frequently checks out “Shoptalk Show” to stay on top of web design techniques and “Comedy Bang Bang” for some improv humor. Dave Christensen listens to various podcasts on philosophy and theology, as well as Dave Ramsey for money management tips. Finally, Mandy Sterling indulges her love for horror and true crime with “The NoSleep Podcast,” “Lore,” “True Crime Garage” and “Sword and Scale.”

Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote that, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” For many Firespringers, the same could be said about our jobs. Regardless of whatever might be piping in through our headphones, be it good ol’ country, a triumphant film score, some soothing ambient soundscapes or a blast of block rockin’ beats, Firespringers love our tunes—and we love the way those tunes help us work harder, better, faster and stronger. (Cue Daft Punk.)