Curating Music to Help You Focus

When we first started collaborating with a Stanford neuroscientist to develop our wellness music collections, I was uncertain what to expect. As a lifelong music student and curator, I wanted to approach this with integrity based on what science has shown. Would this differ greatly from our musical instincts? In many respects, the answer has been “no.” We’ve learned that the artists are ahead of the science, meaning that what composers and curators think music for focusing should sound like, is often delivered successfully in biological terms.

In other respects, today’s research reveals that instinct alone is insufficient to successfully curate music with a functional purpose. At the risk of oversimplification, the most effective wellness music is simpler. The degree of musical variety in today’s biggest pop hits is far too broad to consistently send uniform biological signals. Even the downtempo, chill, “ambient” stations found on your favorite streaming service may deliver more variety than ideal for supporting various wellness objectives like focusing, relaxation and sleep.

We’re now in the unique position of working from specific musical parameters to commission wellness tracks from our Feed Originals producers – wellness music fully designed to specs! For focus & attention, our prescription is more precise than some vibey, feel good tracks to throw on in the background. As you’ll read, there is a specific musical sweet spot for effective focus & attention, depending on the intensity of one’s focused efforts.


Curating Music to Help You Focus

In a busy world full of stresses and distractions, it can be difficult to get in the right headspace for focused concentration. When you have an important project due at work, a major paper to write for class, or you need to put all your brain power into studying for an exam, music to help you focus can be the golden key to unlocking your maximum potential. Amazingly, music for focus can vibe with your brain and body in a way that eases you into the zone where you can do your best work and maintain a stronger resistance to intrusions and diversions. So, how does listening to music help you focus?


How does listening to music help you focus?

People have been utilizing music as a means of focusing their energies and coordinating their work for millennia. The powerful effect of rhythm to motivate and energize can be felt in the traditional songs used by various cultures as an accompaniment to physical labor and work. Music for work can help lift spirits, coordinate a group’s efforts, and provide a positive distraction from the monotony of a task. Sailors’ sea shanties are a well-known example of music for work, and work songs were also commonly sung by cowboys, railroad workers, agricultural workers, and textile workers, among others.

The same elements of rhythmic working music that make it useful for physical work can be adapted and transferred to work that is less physical in nature but nonetheless demands sustained focus. 


The science behind music for focus and concentration

In a study on the effect of background music on cognitive performance in older adults, it was found that upbeat music played a role in increasing processing speed, and both upbeat and downbeat music improved performance on memory tasks. These results may be due to what is known as the “arousal and mood hypothesis,” which holds that the beneficial effects of music to help you focus and concentrate stem from music’s ability to increase arousal and improve mood.

Focus music, background music, and other musical soundscapes also serve the important function of covering intrusive noises in the listener’s environment. When music for focus is playing, ambient sounds (e.g., sirens, voices, dogs barking) become less disruptive and distracting.


Excerpt from "The Science of Music as Medicine" a webinar with Dr. Daniel Bowling, a neuroscientist and instructor at Stanford University, and functional music advisor. Watch the full webinar here


What type of music is the best music for focusing?

When evaluating the most appropriate focus music for work, there are a few general principles to keep in mind: rhythm, groove, melody, and tempo.


Rhythm and groove

Rhythm is at the heart of music for concentration and focus. Groove, defined as the degree to which music makes us want to move, is an important concept related to rhythm—groove is one of the things about music for focus that helps keep the listener alert and engaged. Groove also makes us feel good, and that sense of feeling good (also known as “positive affect”) is another way that study focus music keeps us engaged in a task.

A relatively steady rhythm is vital to creating groove and entrainment, and, ideally, guiding the listener into a flow state, where they become completely absorbed in what they are doing. The music may be looped with subtle variations, and any rhythmic changes in the music for concentration should be gradual. The best music to help you focus strikes a balance between keeping the listener alert and engaged, but without so much syncopation and musical interest that the focusing music itself becomes a distraction.

Melody and tempo

In the best music for concentration and focus, melodies, if any, are limited and repetitive, with no catchy tunes to divert the listener’s attention. Instrumental music for studying with an energizing bass line and minimal high pitches helps the listener stay in the groove. The ideal tempo for concentration music in terms of bpm (beats per minute) is 80–120, with the sweet spot at 85–100. For more intense, driven work, you might select music at the higher end of this spectrum.


Let the curation team find the best focus music for your business

If you have a business and are considering adding concentration music for work to your app or website, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to intentionally curated, evidence-based wellness music applications, has the experience and the know-how to facilitate the most successful music streaming for business use. 

Whether your app users are looking for deep focus music, relaxing music for studying, or just want to play focus music while doing chores, the focus music curation experts at can hook you up. With music for wellness—including music to help you focus—designed to meet specific psychoacoustic parameters, your app will have the best focus music for business available. is a comprehensive, turnkey solution that takes care of music licensing, curation, and streaming; incorporating focus music for businesses has never been so simple. The streaming music API and plug-and-play SDKs (iOS, Android, Javascript and Unity) ensure that adding music to a focus music app is easy, quick, and affordable.

A member of the expert curation team at would be happy to talk with you about how focus music can help take your app to the next level.