Music is a subject loved by everyone. While tastes in music vary, you will struggle to find someone who does not enjoy listening to some form of music. Sharing musical interests, discussing favourite bands, and comparing what musical instruments we play are great ways to start conversations with people.
Get two people together that love the same type of music and you’ll struggle to get a word in on their conversations, as they converse for hours about their favourite songs and bands.
Music is much more than just a hobby though. We can use it as a tool to help with various different ends. It has had a long history of being used for storytelling, being used to pass messages from generation to generation.
In modern times it has been used for many more reasons too. Here is a look at some of the ways that music is used as a tool.
Increasing Productivity of Workers
Many people find that they work better when listening to music. A lot of academics began researching ways to harness music to improve the productivity of industrial workers, with 20th century governments being very interested in harnessing the power of music. One study in 1972 showed that factory workers were more productive when listening to upbeat music.
It was taken so seriously in the United Kingdom that the BBC broadcast a daily radio show called “Music While You Work”, blasting upbeat and happy music to the country’s workforce for over 50 years.
The jury is still out for modern office workers though. Scientists and researchers continue to argue about the merits of using music to help us be more productive. Ultimately, it seems to come down to personal preference, with some preferring silence, others preferring calming music and others preferring upbeat music.
Increasing Sales in Shops
In a similar vein to the way that businesses and governments used music to make their workers more productive, shops use it to make them slow down.
Playing slow music in supermarkets and other retail outlets has been proven to encourage customers to take their time as they navigate around the store. This gives them more time to look at products and pick up items that they would have missed if they had been charging around the store at a fast pace.
The tempo of music therefore appears to be the most influential factor on human behaviour.
Walk into any college or university library and you will find dozens of students sat at computers, listening to music through their headphones while they do their work. For most of them, music solves two problems. Firstly, it drowns out the background noise that can be distracting when you are trying to concentrate, this is helped even more with noise canceling headphones. Secondly, the music itself may be able to help them focus more on their work.
Using music to focus is common among sports people. Formula 1 drivers can often be seen listening to music through headphones while they wait on the grid for the start of the race, they do this to drown out background noise, to discourage others from talking to them, or simply to let the music get them into the correct frame of mind for the start of the race.
Many poker players also use music to help them improve their focus. Some poker players are regularly seen wearing headphones at the table, although their choice of music varies greatly. Some prefer calmer, slower-paced tunes to help them concentrate, while others like something with a higher tempo.
Making us Remember
As well as making us work harder and walk slower in shops, music can also encourage us to build stronger connections to brands. Sounds and music, like short jingles and catchy tunes, can be used to help you recall an ad or a brand more easily.
Famous examples include the jingle used by McDonald’s that originated in the “I’m lovin’ it” song by Justin Timberlake, which was produced exclusively for the fast food chain. This means that a person doesn’t need to be paying full attention to an ad, but upon hearing the short jingle can be instantly reminded of McDonald’s.
Music can also be used to evoke emotions. Christmas TV adverts from companies like John Lewis are examples of this, using music to complement the on-screen story that is designed to portray the warm feelings we get when we give gifts to others. The songs then often go on to be played for years after the ad has been shown, but still bringing back associations to the brand.
Music is a powerful tool and has been used for decades to make us more productive and to spend more. It is unlikely that its use will change any time soon as it is a fairly cost effective way of driving more value for a business.