IPSE staff picks: The best playlists for freelancers


Research on the relationship between music and concentration shows that music - classical music particularly, can help your brain absorb and interpret information more easily. 

Does music help keep you focused? Are you the type of person who simply can’t work without music playing in the background throughout the day, or do you need complete silence to conquer your deadlines? Or perhaps the soundtrack of falling rain, birdsong or seascapes is your thing. 

We’ve rounded up our favourite playlists to have on while you work. Whether you’re contracting, freelancing or running a self-employed business - enjoy the best background to admin tasks, email checking and the occasional impromptu dance break.

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Orla Lyons-Hamilton, Freelance Marketing Executive

I’m definitely someone who needs music playing in the background at (almost) all times so that I can focus. What I listen to depends on what I need to focus on, as my work varies from working with storytelling in words to creating graphics and editing video content. 

If I need some creative stimulation while I’m designing graphics or working on a newsletter, I’ll enjoy starting my day with the NTS Breakfast show; there’s always an exciting eclectic mixture of songs, often an entertaining interview with a musician and it’s a great way to discover new music.  

On the other end of the scale, if I need to work on something that is quite complex and need full non-negotiable concentration I’ll play classical music in the background, like this album of Maurice Ravel on Spotify here. I’ll also listen to ambient minimal playlists that incorporate sounds from nature like the IPSE Protect Your Zen mix.

Vicks Rodwell, Head of Partnerships 

Generally I prefer to have something on in the background when working but it depends on what work I’m doing as to what I’m playing. I will often start my day with the radio listening to LBC to get caught up on the news. Then around 11am I’ll switch to spotify. 

If I need to concentrate then I’ll put fairly chilled background music on. Two of my go-to playlists for this are Coding Mode and Electronic Focus. When I’m just cracking on with my day and I want to stay motivated I tend to move to my core musical taste which is rock, heavy metal and blues. A great playlist to hear a mix of artists is Funky Heavy Bluesy or if I want to have a good sing-a-long while working then I’ll probably have on Avenged Sevenfold, Queen or Halestorm.

Toby Tetrault, Head of Marketing and Technology

Music is generally a big part of my day. When I’m getting ready in the morning I’ll have BBC 6 Music on, it doesn’t require any thinking and sets the mood for the day. As I sit down and begin work, I need upbeat music. The genre varies widely, but hip-hop, post-punk, funk and soul are typical. Artist Radios are great for finding new music, playing related and influenced artists, such as IDLES Radio or the Little Simz Radio.

The Free Form playlist covers a lot of my likes and the Jazz UK playlist covers me when I want something more relaxed. My favourite IPSE playlist is Chasing late payments, it’s a wonderful mix of music with influences from all over the world, it keeps my energy high when I need it.

Christina McLean, Digital Marketing Executive


As much as I love listening to music, it’s sadly something I often can’t do whilst working. I find that if I really need to be focusing on something, I sometimes end up too distracted by the lyrics! At the suggestion of a friend, I tried listening to instrumental classical music instead so that lyrics weren’t involved, but suddenly found myself Googling the composer I was listening to and reading their life story, which also wasn’t great for productivity.

Instead, as a relief for my tinnitus and to help me focus, I often listen to White Noise: Tinnitus Relief. Especially since I’ve started working from home more and lack the buzz of a busy office around me, I’ve found white noise playlists on Spotify to be a huge help.

Outside of tunes to work to, my music taste was once described as “songs that will make you fall asleep,” and can be largely summed up by this playlist I’ve been listening to lately, called Hanging Out & Relaxing. That’s probably also why my favourite of IPSE’s curated playlists is the IPSE Protect Your Zen mix, which features a lovely selection of soothing ambient and soft electronic melodies. I think that finding music that helps you switch off after a busy day is just as important as music/noise that helps you focus.

Dan Thornton, SEO Consultant and Writer

As a music nerd old enough to remember recording mixtapes, I’ve created a slightly excessive number of playlists over the years. And it’s an essential companion to sitting alone with a blank sheet of paper or an empty spreadsheet.

For calmer work, I tend to rely on a classical playlist with mainly modern composers including Max Richter and Hania Rani. Like most of my playlists, I’ve not really organised it, and now it’s so familiar as a background to working, that altering the track list is out of the question.

When deadlines are approaching, or I need to add a bit more passion to my writing, I tend to choose something a bit louder. Blasting some punk or metal also helps when chasing invoices, so it’s either classics including Metallica, Pantera and Slayer, or Spotify’s All New Metal playlist to discover new music.

And as a lover of music-related puns and themes, I’ve also created some playlists for Becoming a Freelancer (sample track – “I never want an easy life” by The Charlatans) and Working as a Freelancer (for example, “Love Your Money” by Daisy Chainsaw).

Dieter Feyerabend, Graphic Designer 

Music definitely helps me to focus when I'm working. I find myself easily distracted when I need to work on a single project for an extended time and listening to music helps me to focus on what I need to do without searching for the latest news headlines as a distraction. I also think that I generally work faster when listening to music but that might depend on my music choice at the time.

What I listen to depends on what I'm focusing on at the time, I can go from 80's and 90's classics to something a lot more heavy. I tend to find the more urgent the work and deadline the heavier I like my music. I find heavy music more relaxing and motivating, but if I'm not in the mood for searching for the perfect playlist I also like to mix it up with a little Radio X, until I get bored of the repeats and move back to my own selection.

I've created a work playlist for those tight deadlines available here.

Derek Cribb, CEO

I find absolute silence when I am trying to work soul-destroying, and rather than music much prefer to hear the buzz of colleagues chatting. With working from home so much over the last two years my nearest substitute has been some talk radio on low volume in the background, usually BBC Radio 5 - although other stations are available. 

I’ve learned in the last few minutes that there are background tracks such as “office” and “coffee shop” - who knew? Something to google later if it all gets a bit quiet here. They’ve got to be better than the “neighbour mowing lawn right across from my desk” soundtrack!

You can find more music playlists created by IPSE on our Spotify channel here. From chasing late payments to drafting up your business plan, these mixes have been designed to motivate and inspire you as you tick off your to-do list.

Gemma Thirsk, Branding and Web Designer

I’m never not listening to something. Usually music, but a podcast or audiobook from time to time works too. What I’m listening to sets the tone of the moment. On the way to my studio, I’m a skipper. I skip between radio stations constantly to find the perfect drive-in mood which tends to be something I can sing loudly and bop along to (yes, I’m a nightmare to travel with). Not forgetting a mid-morning break for Popmaster on R2 every weekday!

Checking my stats for the last four weeks, I’m currently listening to a lot of Kanye West, Taylor Swift, Arlo Parks and Easy Life - but this isn’t my working mood. 

When I really get down to focusing, I love nothing more than acoustic chill. Anything too noisy will distract me and break me out of the zone and as I can often go a bit time-blind too, music helps me keep track of time.

Whatever I’m listening to, I’m particularly fussy about needing a long playlist. My own acoustic chill playlist is (currently) over 43 hours long. There’s nothing worse than being in the depths of creation, hurtling towards a deadline and being awoken from your trance because your playlist has abruptly ended!! Give me endless acoustic guitar covers all day long.

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Meet the author

Orla Lyons-Hamilton.jpg
Orla Lyons-Hamilton

Freelance Marketing Executive