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Five Spotify Playlists That Will Change Your Life

How can need-based music playlists benefit your work, wealth and health?

Hit “Browse” on Spotify and you’re as likely to find yourself navigating tabs called Mood, Focus or Chill as cueing up Ed Sheeran’s latest chart-buster. It wasn’t long ago that our experience of music was driven entirely by our allegiances to particular songs, artists and genres. But the digitisation of everything has sabotaged the routes to market defined by the traditional entertainment industry, enabling a new kind of music delivery that targets our deeper human needs. The demand is clearly there: curated Spotify playlists like ‘Deep Focus’, ‘Brain Food’ and ‘Have A Great Day’ have seven-figure followings. Is this a seismic shift in the way we consume music and a challenge to the entertainment business, or just the dot-com version of whale-sound CDs? THE STAND road-tested many hours of need-based playlists to find those most likely to benefit your work, wealth and health.

BEATS TO THINK TO (202,000 followers)

What is it?
Smooth, instrumental dance music with a lively kick designed to inspire your best brainwork. With artists named Anja Schneider, Paul Kalkbrenner and Marcel Dettmann, this could be a slick German corporation in musical form.

What effect does it have?
On a morning when THE STAND’s faculties were not firing as powerfully as they might, this collection’s punchy BPM and uplifting synth sounds delivered a welcome adrenaline surge. And unlike a doppio macchiato, it didn’t set up a crash an hour later. The insistent beats might not be to everyone’s liking; the effect can be somewhat like being at Berlin’s legendary Berghain club [Work and Play – Berlin]. But when your grey cells feel like they could use an ice-bucket challenge, this is a less messy alternative.

When should I use it?
Reading analyst reports. Smashing your PB for the 10k. Learning German.

PEACEFUL PIANO (2,776,000 followers)

What is it?
One of Spotify’s most successful need-based playlists, Peaceful Piano assembles the cream of contemporary composers, many of them familiar from the stylish soundtracks to future-classics like Arrival and Black Mirror.

What effect does it have?
For THE STAND, Peaceful Piano was too soporific for work, but it could be very handy in those leisure situations when adrenaline is the last thing you need, such as entertaining the in-laws or reading Thomas Piketty. Or better still, when you’re looking to liquidate a property investment: come open-house time, it’s the aural equivalent of a Diptyque candle.

When should I use it?
Resolving disputes. Power-napping. Selling houses.

PRODUCTIVE MORNING (226,000 followers)

What is it?
If Beats To Think To suggests Berlin at night, Productive Morning is the sound of 7am in Stockholm. Gentle beats and soaring voices evoke crystal clear waters, fish-based breakfasts and slim-fitting suits; the perfect conditions for smashing through your to-do list in other words.

What effect does it have?
Readers of THE STAND might well retort “Is there any other kind of morning?” – but it’s not always easy to get into the marginal-gains mindset that peak performance demands. This playlist’s hypnotic grooves and soothing vocals get you there, and could be the difference between delivering a killer keynote and merely giving a talk.

When should I use it?
Rewriting TED talks. Nailing PowerPoint marathons. Herring fishing.

ZEN FOCUS (497,000 followers)

What is it?
“Zone in (or out)” with this lovingly-curated gathering of US indie-folk artists.

What effect does it have?
This tasteful acoustic collection had The STAND zoning out more than in. Its organic, backwoodsy vibe was too darn distracting, conjuring images of wildernesses, smoking campfires and lustrous beards. Rather than entering a nirvana of meditative productivity that might unlock a fiendish Excel conundrum, you might find yourself heading over to Cabin Porn and asking your broker for prices of land in Oregon. But we all need a break from being awesome in our chosen field once in a while right?

When should I use it?
Surviving dull board meetings. Doing outdoor Yoga. Buying islands.

BRAIN.FM

Brain FM

What is it?
This is not a Spotify playlist but THE STAND felt it worthy of inclusion because its “music designed for the brain” works very differently. Brain.fm playlists are algorithmically generated and unique to each user. You choose between three basic needs – Focus, Relax, Sleep – which then subdivide into buckets like Beach Focus, Underwater Relax, Thunder Sleep. Your choice results in a personalised “Brainwave”, which is a continuous stream of natural sounds (the sea, rain) and basic instruments like chimes.

What effect does it have?
As with vitamins and diets, it’s hard to discern the exact effect that Brain.fm is having. Its Brainwaves operate at a not-quite-conscious level – the opposite of the distracting effect of Zen Focus. Yet THE STAND definitely experienced something. For example, Beach Focus had a cleansing effect that seemed to reverse a creeping post-lunch lull. Or was that the macchiato?

When should I use it?
Experiment in various scenarios. But not while operating machinery.

Where do you stand?

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