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Can you imagine a movie without a soundtrack? No matter what happened on the screen, something would be missing. The music carries the mood. It draws you into the scene and tells you how you are supposed to feel. Music can create tension or release it. Studios leverage this effect to enhance the experience of watching a film.

Hollywood producers are not the only ones who recognize the power of music. There is a reason stores, hotels, and restaurants play music. Music influences our thoughts and moods. It can put you in the right frame of mind and emotional state for a specific purpose. The same is true for doing focused work. The right music can be one of your most important productivity assets. We have introduced this concept to more than 13,000 of our customers and most of them curate their own focus music as well.

What is Focus Music?

The idea of using music to enhance your focus is not new, but neuroscience has advanced the concept far beyond your favorite playlist on Apple Music or Spotify. Modern technology makes it possible to engineer a new musical genre called streamlined music (commonly known as focus music, brain music, concentration music, studying music, and relaxing sleeping music).

According to Julia A. Mossbridge, Director of the Innovation Lab at Northwestern University, streamlined music can be defined as unfamiliar music to which one or more methods have been applied to reduce the activation of “exogenous attentional mechanisms” in the listener. In other words, it is music that is structured to enhance your focus and help you overcome distractions from external sources.

The theory is that when there is focus music in the background while a listener is working, there will be a positive impact on cognition. It may also boost their mood.

Common Use Cases:

  • Deep focus work
  • Focus music for studying
  • Relaxing
  • Fall asleep faster (everyone needs an insomnia free good night sleep)

How Does Music Help You Focus?

Focus is a competition for your attention – a battle between internal sources and external sources. Think about internal sources as your goals, your priorities, and your most important tasks. External sources are distractions. They steal your focus and limit your productivity. Some of those distractions happen because of all the sounds that surround you.

Stop for a moment and think about your current surroundings on a typical day of work (whether in the home, the office, or favorite coffee shop). What do you hear? Do you have noisy co-workers? Do you hear the constant clatter of office machines being used? If you work near a street, you might be bombarded with traffic noise or the sounds of construction work.

Even working from home creates a challenge. If you live with other people, it is impossible to control your conditions completely. Life happens, and it is noisy. Not long ago, I was listening to a professionally recorded podcast that included the sound of the presenter’s child crying in the background. We all face the challenge of how to find our focus in a noisy world.

Quiet Quest: Study Music

Focus music for studying works by replacing the sounds that distract you with sounds that enhance your brain’s ability to achieve and maintain focus. The music works as a protective shield. It has just enough of your attention so that you will not be distracted by ambient noises, but it still lives in the background allowing you to achieve and maintain proper focus. This makes it the perfect studying music. The combined effects of focus music for studying make it an easy choice for students who want to optimize their productivity.

Sound is important to fall asleep faster

Those who fall asleep faster want to know if listening to the right music helps. In other words, “Can music help you sleep?” Research suggests the answer is yes. For a good night sleep listen to music that either directly promotes sleep or reduces issues that interfere with sleep. It is a productivity multiplier.

Improve your attention

To be productive in your daily work, you need to find ways to achieve greater focus and overcome distractions. Your attention is a vital resource. According to the TEA framework, attention forms one of the three pillars of productivity. You have to protect it. One of the best ways you can protect your attention is to use music. Life does not have volume control. You cannot turn it down or change the channel. However, you can use the science-based technology of focus music to reduce distractions and increase focus.

Concentration Music Can Maximize Your Cognitive Skills

For most professionals, your work requires cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are mental processes that engage your brain in focusing and sustaining your attention, processing information, and using logic and reasoning. The more effective you are in each of these skills, the more productive you will be. According to an article published by the National Library of Medicine, “background music can have predictable effects on cognitive performance.”

Three Benefits of Music For Studying on Cognitive Abilities

1. Increased Learning and Memory. Dr. Masha Godkin, a professor at Northcentral University, states, “Music activates both the left and right brain at the same time, and the activation of both hemispheres can maximize learning and improve memory.”

2. Sustained Attention. Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine published a paper that showed that music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention.

3. Enhanced Reasoning. A study published in the Journal of Aesthetic Education (Vol.34, No.3/4) claims that music can improve spatial-temporal reasoning – a particular type of intelligence that involves visualizing and manipulating images in your brain. Although the study is not conclusive, there is compelling evidence about the music’s positive effects on how the brain works.

The Science Behind Deep Focus Music

Deep focus music is engineered to create an environment that is ideal for accomplishing your work. High and low decibels are eliminated from the music. Gaps, breaks, or sharp changes that are likely to cause distraction are not permitted. The type and number of instruments used are designed to achieve a balance between ignoring the music completely (called habituation) and the music capturing your attention.

How Music for Studying is Designed

  • Unfamiliar music. If the music was something familiar, then it could capture too much of your attention. A scientific report published at nature.com shows that familiar and unfamiliar songs are differentiated rapidly in the brain. The familiarity makes the listener prone to a variety of distractions that can lead to broken focus.
  • No highs and lows. The music is filtered to remove the lowest frequencies and highest frequencies. Over time these levels have the potential to annoy the listener and thus break their focus.
  • No gaps or sharp changes. Focus music is designed to maintain a steady rhythm without dramatic changes in the tempo nor gaps of silence. Those types of abrupt changes to the music may cause more attention to the music than to the subject of your focus.
  • Limited instruments. The more complex or dense the music is the more likely it is to cause distraction. A piece of music that uses too many instruments with distinct sounds and parts has the potential to redirect your attention towards the music itself. Focus music is intentionally simple.

If you are interested in a deeper dive into the science behind streamlined music, you can read white papers here and here. We wrote more about the science of focus music in this article.

Playlist vs. Streamlined Music Services

While streaming services like Apple Music and Spotify offer curated lists of studying music, they do not claim to support the science behind streamlined music. If you are just looking for some relaxing music, you can find it on a streaming service or a study music YouTube channel. However, relaxing ambient music is not the same as deep focus music that was created to help you focus.

Fortunately, there are two great options: Brain.fm and Focus@Will. These companies are using the available science and technology (and doing their own research and development) to deliver a music-streaming service dedicated exclusively to the purpose of improving concentration and mood.

Both services are available as a browser-based service or application on various platforms.

Focus at Will:


The Future of Focus Music

The development of focus music is an emerging technology. Every discovery about how the brain responds to sounds gets tested and integrated over time to improve the music’s quality and effectiveness. Although it is relatively new, the popularity of services like Brain.fm and Focus@will validate the many people are already experiencing the benefits of focus music.

Here are three reasons we think you should give it a try:

  1. Focus music has the potential to minimize distractions and increase concentration
  2. More attention over more extended periods will produce better results
  3. The more you optimize your cognitive abilities and boost your mood, the more you will increase your productivity

Next Steps for Optimizing Your Productivity with Focus Music

Whether you are searching for the perfect ambient music to fall asleep faster, relaxing music, studying music, or deep focus music, this new genre could be your answer.

  1. Sign up for a free trial of Brain.fm or Focus@Will
  2. Download the app to your phone, tablet, or computer
  3. Listen to focus music the next time you need to study or do deep work
  4. Pro tip: Listen to focus music through headphones while you work


Do you want to know how to set up your workplace and your computer to get more done? Are you interested to know how you can structure your ideal day and build routines? If you answered yes to both or even just one, then join our FREE TRAINING by clicking this link. It is absolutely 100% free.

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Steve Robertson

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