Everyone loves music! When meeting new people a common question that is asked is “so, what music are you into?” The answer can make or break some relationships, the right answer can spark a conversation that’ll last for hours, and some answers might leave an awkward silence that may never end.
The pastime of collecting vinyl records has become popular again, with specialist vinyl shops popping up in the more hip areas of towns and cities. Services like Spotify and Deezer are making it easier (and cheaper) for us to discover new music and listen wherever we are. Music sets, changes, or emphasises our moods: it can help motivate us or make us wallow in self-pity when we’re feeling sad.
However, music is more than just a hobby. It is frequently used as a tool, whether it be to sell us things, make us work more, help us concentrate, or even provide medicinal benefits. By understanding what we can do with music, we can begin to harness its power for our own uses.
Boosting Factory Productivity
Music was used in the 20th century as a tool for making factory workers more efficient and more committed. The music was used to fight boredom and fatigue amongst the workforce, with a lot of research being undertaken to understand how music could improve morale, manipulate emotions and ultimately increase efficiency. To demonstrate how seriously this concept was taken, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) ran a daily radio broadcast called Music While You Work between 1940 and 1967, it played popular music, non-stop, at an even tempo.
Building on the concept of improving working efficiency, music can also be used to help with concentration. Modern workers often use music to drown out background noise: walk through many offices these days and you’ll see people wearing headphones. This helps to drown out distractions and boost their concentration, particularly in open plan offices where ringing phones and the conversations of colleagues can be never-ending. Poker and online gaming players are also known to do this, in addition to wearing sunglasses to hide their eyes, players often listen to music to help them pay attention and concentrate to recognise patterns.
Music in Advertising
Whether you like it or not, music is a big part of advertising. Music is used by advertisers to gain brand recognition since it is scientifically linked to the brain’s memory functions. Music can bring back memories, whether they be from your childhood, a holiday, or a particular time in your life when you spent a long time listening to a particular song.
Advertisers exploit this relationship, as a song can evoke memories of the ad (and the brand) long after the advertisement has stopped running. In addition to this, advertisers use music to stir up emotion in the listener, particularly since emotion can lead us to make decisions we otherwise wouldn’t.
Music as Medicine
Using music for healing dates as far back as the ancient Greeks, Apollo was the god of both healing and music. Recent studies seem to back up the Greeks, with music potentially able to lower blood pressure, reduce stress levels and slow a patient’s heart rate. It is not yet known exactly how or why, but theories for music’s medicinal benefits include its ability to help the brain make new nerve cell connections, and the body’s nervous system responding positively to the rhythm of the music.
No matter the reason for using it, it is clear that music is a powerful tool. Perhaps music lovers have another reason to keep their headphones on, after all, it will make them healthier, more productive and better at concentrating… although it might also make them spend more money.