Music is an essential part of my day. In the car on the way to work, sitting at the desk, chilling out at lunch, in the car on the way home. It’s a constant in my life. It’s also a great way to stay focused and motivated while writing code. Given Emma’s open floor plan, music is essential in creating a “cone of silence” to minimize distractions.
Now, the big question is … what kind of music should one listen to while writing code? There are just too many tastes and moods to say definitively that one kind of music is better for a particular task than another. To that end, we’ve been trying a few things at Emma to expose us to new music to code by.
We’ve long had a shared set of speakers hooked up to an Airport Express. We’d take turns playing music through our iTunes; for the most part, everyone was happy. And if you didn’t like it, you could put on headphones and retreat into your own music for a while. However, there were some concerns about offending others or choosing a playlist that wouldn’t get everyone’s approval.
Next, we decided to run the iTunes DJ setup through a particular machine so everyone could use their iPhones to vote for the next tune. It required near constant attention so it was hard to get our work done. While all of the voting might have been fun for us, customers who are waiting on us to complete the new API wouldn’t have been enthused.
Most recently, we’ve been playing with turntable.fm. It’s been a blast. The site lets you create a DJ/chat room where five folks can alternate playing music and even more people can listen. Voting and chat are integrated, so it turns into a hangout spot with some cool tunes. Since we have a small team here in Nashville, we can generally all take a turn as DJ. That means that we each get to hear music we like and share our favorite tunes with others, generating lively discussions and getting to know each other in an interesting way.
As geeks, we’re clearly enamored with a technology solution that fits our needs so perfectly. The site’s interface is fun and generally responsive, so it’s easy to build a queue of music for the day. We can choose to listen using headphones or hook up a machine to the Airport Express and play the music over the speakers. It gives us the best of all the solutions we’ve tried so far, combining three of the biggest motivators online: music, instant communication and gaming. It’s a trifecta that’s bound to be successful if they can figure out how to make money.
If you’re hanging out on turntable.fm, look out for me (DJ BumpTwist), and let me know what you consider the best kind of music for coding by commenting below.