A new survey delves into the music preferences and listening habits of software engineers at work.

Chris Wiltz

June 30, 2017

3 Min Read
What Do Engineers Listen to While They Work?

If you're a software engineer today, chances are you work in an open-format office. That means you're under constant assault from interruptions, distractions, ambient noise, and all of the other things that come with sharing a space with dozens of other people. It also means a good pair of headphones and a playlist of your favorite music can be essential to your productivity. Even Mythbuster's own Jaime Hyneman has said music is a vital part of his work process.

To gain some insight into the listening habits of software engineers, Qualtrics, a research software and experience management firm, conducted a survey of 400 professional adult software engineers. 

The results showed that 96% of software engineers reported listening to music at least some of the time and 78% prefer music over anything else while coding. The next highest preference was total silence, but it was only preferred by 6% of respondents (to be fair to that 6%, it's hard to prefer something that is unubtainable in your work environment).

The stereotype when you think of coders and music is to imagine Bertram Gilfoyle from the show Silicon Valley listening to electronic music or heavy metal. But Qualtrics found the artists with the most consensus were U2, Taylor Swift,The Beatles, Maroon 5, Linkin Park, and Katy Perry. Does that mean engineers prefer top 40 Pop music just as much as everyone else? Accoding to the survey Pop is by far the most popular genre for software engineers to listen to (28%). Electronic music came in a distant second at 12%, and another 11% listed classical as their top choice. Reggae was music of choice for only 2% of respondents (Sorry, Bob Marley).

Engineers also prefer to use streaming services to get their music. Pandora is the most popular choice, preferred by 29% of respondents, with YouTube and Spotify coming in at 23% and 19%

Among other survey findings:

  • Software engineers over age 35 are three times more likely to listen to the radio while coding than engineers 35 or younger.

  • 71% of engineers 35 or younger report listening to music very often or always while coding, compared to 47% of engineers over 35..

  • 80% of software engineers listen to music through headphones. The preferred headphone brands are Bose (25%) followed by Sony and Beats brands with about 20% each. “The rest of them might be listening to music on a record player or something if they are hipsters,” Qualtrics said.

What's your go-to music while you work? Whether your a software engineer or any other type we want o hear from you. Share you favorite tunes in the comments.

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Chris Wiltz is the Managing Editor of Design News.

[Image source: public domain]

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