What’s better for developer productivity: music or silence?

October 27, 2016 - 2 minutes read


The question of what music is best for triggering app developer productivity — if any at all — is a debate that has raged on since, if not the dawn of time, at least the introduction of the iPhone.

Every developer is likely to have their own answer, but there are a few trends that crop up again and again: one, the value of a small team for reduced overall noise and distraction. Two, ambience and predictability vs surprise and lyric-driven music.

Some app developers even prefer a combination of chatter, bustle, and music as found at coffee shops. A startup based out of Richmond, Virginia called Coffitivity has even created a radio station of sorts for coffee shop “white noise,” with a variety of options from “Morning Murmur” to “University Undertone.” For the right developers, that’ll save you a fortune on overpriced lattes!

Ambient music is also a common theme among developer opinions. Most developers tend to avoid headphones, only using them as a method for tuning out the distractions in large, hectic offices or shared work spaces. The ideal, for most, is ambient music somewhere in the area to cut through the complete silence, and limited chatter from trusted, familiar colleagues.

While this tends to be the best environment for coders and designers, it doesn’t always hold true for product managers and other communication-based roles, which often thrive in more “distracting” environments. Open office plans that promote this sort of soundscape are also wildly popular among tech companies, presumably because the open plan facilitates collaboration and communication, even if at the expense of a bit of productivity.

The debate will likely rage on as long as there are app developers in NYC to fight over it. Now, if only all that energy could be tapped…

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