Marketers have long known about the power of music to influence consumer behavior. Thousands of studies have zeroed in on the best music to support your retail goals. New research shows that offices can also benefit from music in their workspace. Looking for employee productivity gains, increased collaboration, and improved camaraderie? Turn on the tunes.
LET THE MUSIC MOVE YOU
Music is so powerful because it impacts brain circuits that trigger trust, empathy, and cooperation. It also gives you a boost of dopamine, the “motivation” molecule which powers the reward center of the brain. You have a similar reaction when eating a beloved food (pizza!) or completing an intense workout, like a “runner’s high.”
The ability of music to influence behavior may be the reason that retail soundtracks have been a research favorite for decades. Slower songs played at a comfortable volume encourage shoppers to browse and buy. Classical music implies “upscale,” influencing purchases at a higher price point. Restaurants can increase table turns with uptempo tracks.
DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY
Researchers continue to be fascinated by all of the ways in which music influences us. We know that music brings back memories, affects our emotions, and even powers our workouts. It also makes us happier, more effective workers.
Offices, with dozens of people focusing on complex tasks or chatting on the phone, have tended toward white noise in the background. Turns out that’s a smart move: Researchers found that ambient noise is great for sparking creativity and improving concentration. Similar ambient sounds such as wind or rain also improve memory and learning in distracting environments.
Other forms of music work just as well: 90% of workers say they perform better when listening to music. It can help you drown out distractions in a noisy environment and keep you at the peak of productivity. For instance, researchers found that 73% of people listening to classical music had higher accuracy with tasks and correctly resolved math problems. Happy music increased collaboration by 20%. And 58% of people listening to pop music completed their tasks more quickly with fewer mistakes.
Deciding to take advantage of the benefits music can bring to your office is step one. Now you have to determine the best way to use music in your setting. Streaming music through your office audio system maximizes the benefits but can alienate some who have specific musical tastes or prefer quiet. Encouraging headphones can solve the genre question but may deter discussion and collaboration.
The answer? Ask your team what role they see music playing in the office. Discuss the options, including streaming music or personal headphones. Perhaps create a compromise schedule: low-key overhead music in the morning, headsets for your personal, energizing playlist in the afternoon.
I’VE GOT THE MUSIC IN ME
Music can also create a sense of camaraderie through shared interests and fun team-building activities.
An easy project that everyone can relate to is building a monthly playlist. Start by picking a theme: songs with lyrics about outer space, road-trip songs, cover songs in a different style from the original. The more creative the better! Everyone contributes a song, and the final playlist is compiled by a different staff member each month. The playlist – and the judge’s pick for the song that best fits the theme – is unveiled at a company meeting, much to everyone’s delight. The winner gets to pick next month’s theme and serves as a judge. This activity is especially effective in hybrid work environments with remote associates or multiple office locations. It’s a great way to get to know your teammates better. (Wow – Tara in Legal is a huge Beastie Boys fan!)
A hilarious activity we’ve used at PTG is to share Mondegreens. The word Mondegreen was coined by writer Sylvia Wright in 1954. When her mother read to her the Scottish ballad “The Bonny Earl of Murray”, she misheard the lyric "layd him on the green" as "Lady Mondegreen". And Mondegreens were born!
I learned about mondegreens the hard way – being teased by my sisters when we were young while I was singing along with Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”. My young brain heard: “Wait Army girl, Cry in the night if it helps, but Mama Kelp” (Lyrics are actually “Wait on me girl, Cry in the night if it helps, but more than ever”). Seriously. The seaweed jokes have been coming at me ever since.
Now I’ve learned that mondegreens are a universal phenomenon; almost every language has a word or phrase for this lyrical mishap. (Dutch? Mama appelsap from the Michael Jackson song Wanna Be Startin' Somethin' which features the lyrics Mama-se mama-sa ma-ma-coo-sa, and was misheard as Mama say mama sa mam[a]appelsap, which means “Mommy applejuice”). In French, the phenomenon is also known as 'hallucination auditive', especially when referring to pop songs. Sometimes your brain processes the acoustic information differently, and you may not have other context clues – like seeing the face of the singer – to help your brain put the sounds and words together properly. So you end up with "There's a bathroom on the right" instead of Credence Clearwater Revival’s "There's a bad moon on the rise.”
Here are some of my favorite mondegreens from PTG staff:
• “Kicking your cat all over the place” instead of “Kicking your can all over the place” from Queen’s “We Will Rock You.”
• Assuming Elton John sang, “Burnin’ all the shoes I’ve ever owned” instead of “Burnin’ out his fuse up here alone” in “Rocket Man.”
• Singing “Last night I dreamt of some bagels” in place of Madonna’s “Last night I dreamt of San Pedro.”
• Belting out “Our love ain’t worth plain chicken wings” when Sia sings “Our love ain’t worth playing chicken with” in “Broken Glass.”
Here’s our playlist featuring songs with our favorite mondegreens. Maybe it can jumpstart a team activity in your office!
We’ve always recognized the beauty in music. Thanks to curious researchers, we now see the power of music to influence behavior. Businesses can use music to help achieve the organization’s objectives. There are few drawbacks, which can be mitigated with good communication. Plus, you’ll help your team be happier, more productive workers.
However you want to play it, we’re here to help you create the best music backdrop for your office, restaurant, or retail space. Whether you need streaming services or a top-notch sound system, let’s talk about how we can help you put the power of music to work for you.
**OUR PLAYLIST MONDEGREENS
1. Tiny Dancer by Elton John
Mondegreen: Hold me closer Tony Danza. Actual Lyrics: Hold me closer tiny dancer, (sorry Tony)
2 . I Want to Hold Your Hand by The Beatles
Mondegreen: I want to hold your ham. Actual Lyric: I want to hold your hand.
3. Bad Moon Rising by Credence Clearwater Revival
Mondegreen: There’s a bathroom on the right. Actual Lyrics: There’s a bad moon on the rise.
4. Rocket Man by Elton John
Mondegreen: Burnin’ all the shoes I’ve ever owned.
Actual Lyrics: Burnin’ out his fuse up here alone.
5. Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John
Mondegreen: ‘Cause I’m livin’ free, this Philadelphia freedom.
Actual Lyrics: “Cause I live and breathe this Philadelphia freedom.
6. Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles
Mondegreen: it’s like beat it streets bend your back and shift your arm up for a cola pop. Actual Lyrics: slide you feet up the street, bend you back shift you arm then you pull it back.
7. We will Rock You by Queen
Mondegreen: Kicking your cat all over the place.
Actual lyric: Kicking your can all over the place.
8. Livin' On A Prayer by Bon Jovi
Mondegreen: It doesn’t make a difference if we’re naked or not.
Actual Lyric: It doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not.
9. Broken Glass by SIa
Mondegreen: Our love ain’t worth plain chicken wings Actual Lyrics: Our love ain’t worth playing chicken with
10. Ain't Too Proud to Beg by The Temptations
Mondegreen: Ain’t you by the bay, tsunami? Actual lyrics: Ain’t too proud to beg, sweet darlin'
11. Sh-Boom by The Crew Cuts
Mondegreen: “Hello, hello again, sh-boom and hobble the media”
Actual lyrics: Hello, hello again, sh-boom and hopin’ we’ll meet again
12. Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo
Mondegreen: Spend my days like dinner dates, tryna forget you babe
Actual lyrics: Spend my days locked in a haze, tryna forget you babe
13. Longneck Bottle by Brooks Jefferson
Mondegreen: Long-legged model, let go of my hand.
Actual lyric: Long neck bottle, let go of my hand.
14. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues by Elton John
Mondegreen: Wait Army girl, Cry in the night if it helps, but Mama Kelp Actual Lyric: Wait on me girl, Cry in the night if it helps, but more than ever
15. Wanna Be Startin' Something by Michael Jackson
Mondegreen: Mama say mama sa mam[a]appelsap (“Mommy applejuice” in Dutch) Actual Lyrics: Mama-se mama-sa-ma-ma-coo-sa
16. Blinded by the Light by Manfred Mann
Mondegreen: Blinded by the light, wrapped up like a douche until the middle of the night Actual Lyric: Blinded by the light, Revved up like a deuce another runner in the night
17. La Isla Bonita by Madonna
Mondegreen: Last night I dreamt of some bagels Actual Lyric: Last night I dreamt of San Pedro