Work From Home song peaks again as listening alters under lockdown | Technology


Work from Home, the bouncy lead single from the American girl group Fifth Harmony’s second album, has taken on a second life since its 2016 release, when it peaked at number two in the UK singles chart.

In the first month of lockdown, according to data from Spotify, the song has become a clear beneficiary of the shift in people’s listening habits as white-collar workers and schoolchildren were sent home around the world.

Working-from-home-themed playlists have seen a 1,400% increase compared with the first 10 days of March, Spotify says, with Fifth Harmony’s single the most-added track to those playlists. The song, a collaboration with the rapper Ty Dolla $ign, is actually about pining at home waiting for your lover to return from a late night, but that hasn’t stopped it from leading the pack.

More appropriate songs follow, such as Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, with Beethoven, Bach and the pianist Lang Lang’s version of Für Elise making up the more classically inclined remote-working playlists.

The streaming service looked at worldwide patterns of use between 17 April and 17 May to spot ways in which changed lives were changing music preferences. Hot on the heels of working-from-home playlists was a tenfold increase in the number of playlists themed around homeschooling.

According to Spotify, Supalonely by Benee and Gus Dapperton, Sucker by Jonas Brothers, Circles by Post Malone, and Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa are among the most popular song choices on these playlists. “It’s not all work and no play, though. Users are also combining music with a popular family-friendly, at-home escape that might ring a bell: Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: New Horizons video game. Animal Crossing-themed playlists are up 1,000%,” said the streaming service.

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As workers have shifted from offices to their own homes, the purpose of their weekday music has shifted too. Where once it was used to drown out the sounds of an open-plan office or an annoying co-worker, now a playlist is as likely to be focused on trying to make a quiet house feel less empty, or force the shift in mindset from “home” to “work” that a commute once filled.

It’s not only Spotify that has seen a change in use. Flow State, a newsletter that sends out two hours of music every day hand-picked for working listeners, has had a 57% jump in paid subscribers since 1 March, according to the service’s pseudonymous MC . “Readers seem more tolerant of music with vocals” than before and, in general, are seeking out daily working music more than they had been previously.”

“One of the many benefits of working from home is that you can control the music, and you can play it on speakers without worrying about disturbing coworkers,” MC added, “although family members and roommates are another story.”

The growth in activity-themed playlists gives an overview of how else we’re living today. Spotify’s Cleaning Kit playlist, a six-hour medley of songs to mop to, has had a 30% increase in streaming, painting-themed playlists are up by 90%, baking by 120% (with 2,750 Spotify playlists dedicated to banana bread alone), and gardening playlists up by 430%. Sample gardening tracks include: Avant Gardener by Courtney Barnett, Mr Blue Sky by Electric Light Orchestra, and Sunflower by Post Malone and Swae Lee.

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Even the company’s relatively recent foray into podcasting has revealed how our lives are changing. Elizabeth Townsend Gard’s podcast Just Wanna Quilt has seen streams on the platform more than double, while the Crochet.com podcast WeCrochet has had a 60% increase in plays.



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