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Webgrrls Wisdom » Online Music to Help You Design

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Welcome to Webgrrls Wisdom, a blog to find commentaries about women's careers, business, technology, and the industry.

Online Music to Help You Design

written by Kristin Vincent
Kristin Vincent
Topics: Blogs, Design, Technology, Work-Life Balance
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Recently someone asked a great question on the Interaction Design Association’s discussion list: What music do you listen to while you design? Over the next few days, designers of all ages chimed in. Though some said they like it quiet and others commented that they were usually stuck listening to the sales guy’s phone calls, there was a strong, recurring theme: While we’re working with our ear buds in, we designers have background noise we don’t have to pay attention to to understand.

For example, many people said they listen to classical, jazz, electronic, and world music in other languages (like the Plutomayo series). Others said they let their iPod shuffle through very familiar songs. New music was off limits to most (though some people cited online college radio stations known for new indie music). To be fair, there was a punk streak, a little NPR, and a handful of nods to Rammstein. A wise soul acknowledged it’s nice to break from designing and play a little acoustic guitar. Even though hip-hop soars in the charts, it was mentioned only as a side note that people turn to when they’re in a certain mood.

One after another, people piped up about their favorite spots online to get endless streams of custom music on demand. Here are some cyber-music suggestions that came up in that discussion that I wanted to share with the Webgrrls community to keep you designing to the beat.


This site has canned channels or lets you build your own. They even have an Irish channel for St. Patrick’s Day. One cool feature is that you can put in an artist and it will tell you what radio stations play them.


The best feature on finetune is their widget that lets you put play lists on your blog. They say that “it’s the soundtrack for your life and anyone can tune in.”


This site is cool because it lets you tap in to see what other people are listening to right now. The site’s description says: “Last.fm tracks what you listen to, learns what you like, gives you personal top charts and new music to discover.”


Pandora’s mission is “To play music you’ll love – and nothing else. ” It lets you put in a song or artist and then it continues to play similar music. You can give thumbs up or down to help it learn how to modify its selections. One site particularly recommended for designing is the Wex Eclectic station.

Shake, Rattle and Roll

The site states that: “Mark Lamarr presents his award winning Rock’n’Roll show.”


This is what you’ll find me listening to. SomaFM has a wide range of funky channels to click on, from the avant-garde jazz station Sonic Universe to the stylish, mysterious music on Secret Agent. Then there’s my personal favorite, Groove Salad, a “nicely chilled plate of ambient beats and grooves.” For country lovers who think outside the box, there’s even Bot Liquor, described as “Americana roots music with a bit of attitude. For Cowhands, Cowpokes and Cowtippers.”

VH1 Radio

Looking for something a little more familiar? Try VH1’s many radio stations. The added bonus here is that they can link you to all sorts of information about the various artists and genres. The channels Blue Room and Brazilia were specifically recommended on the IxDA discussion list.

Yahoo LAUNCHcast

This Yahoo! station lets you rate music so you can get customized recommendations. You can also ban music if you really hate something.

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Did you enjoy this post? Comments (3)


Comment by Troy
2008-03-28 01:22:39

Thanks for the compilation, it’s is indeed grand to see what IxDer’s fill in the background, while creating such compelling and smooth forehands!

Comment by John Gibbard
2008-03-28 05:24:24

Hey Kristin … you’ll be delighted to know that a constant (well, weekly) chart of what IxDA people listen to is available now on Last.fm as we’ve go our own group

Best wishes.

Comment by Kristin Vincent
2008-03-31 22:19:06

Nice! I’ll be sure to check it out.

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