How Taylor Swift is Helping Programmers Code Faster (and Better)
Haters beware: Taylor Swift has captured the hearts of the tech elite.
By John Brandon
Don’t be surprised if a computer geek you know is mouthing the words to Shake It Off.
A new survey by Qualtrics released today found that 76% of programmers prefer to listen to music while they work instead of podcasts or the news.
Creating a new mobile app for a startup? Building a new CRM database? There’s a good chance the engineers like Taylor Swift. She ranks higher than Katy Perry, which pretty much settles that debate. U2 also ranks high, as does Maroon 5 and Linkin Park. Sitting on the same list after all of these years? The Beatles ranked third on the top five list. That’s pretty surprising, but also helps restore hope in society again.
Another finding from the survey is that the coders tend to use headphones more than speakers on their desk. That might not be too surprising if you have ever seen someone using a laptop at Starbucks, but the percentage of 83% means earbuds and headphones really dominate. Bose ranks higher than the Sony or the Beats brand from Apple. In fact, one out of every four coders picked the Bose brand as a favorite.
Of those surveyed, 28% said they prefer pop music artists over other styles. Reggae (at only 2% of coders picking that style) and classical music (at 11%) ranked quite low.
Pandora is the streaming service of choice–29% of coders use it; 23% use YouTube. Spotify came in third at only 19% as the preferred music streaming platform.
One question to ask, though, is: Why Taylor Swift? What makes her a standout?
As you might guess, I have a theory.
After writing non-stop as a journalist for 16 years, I’ve listened to countless bands during my regular workday, but the one factor that comes up over and over is that an upbeat artist adds some spring to my step (and my typing). After work, I might enjoy a more mid-tempo band like Bon Iver or Iron & Wine, soaking up the warm tones while I lounge in a chair reading a book. I can pay attention to the intricate chord changes.
At work? I gravitate to more high-energy rock from an artist like Bleachers, who just released a new album of power pop songs. You feel more invigorated and motivated; it gets you through a long day. I’m more of an indie rock fan myself, which means I know more about Ryan Adams and his Taylor Swift cover album than the original artist herself. (That said, she’s an amazing songwriter, a gifted singer, and a stunning talent.)
Some of my favorite bands for deep writing sessions
I really like The National, Frightened Rabbit, and Twilight Sad. They have an energy and passion that gives me a boost during my day using a PC. At times, I’m known to switch over to lush orchestral synth music from an artist like Banners. And, there are times when I’m in the mood for something grungy–say, Chelsea Wolfe goth rock.
How about you? If you’re a coder, post the favorite band you listen to during work hours on my Twitter feed. Techies, post which bands you prefer for design work or photo-editing. I’m curious if there is any consensus around lighter pop music or indie rock.
If you post, keep your tone light and friendly. No haters on this one.