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Guest Blog: Office Music Policy?

Is your office loud? Quiet? Something in between?

Having already dropped a guest mix for record store day, I thought I’d poke my head out again with another guest blog about our work place music policy…which conveniently ties in with National Album day.

Here at Burning Red we are a music on office (would it be strange if we weren’t considering we built this site?). After a few years of just randomly trying to find a happy medium about what the office music policy should be, we were left with the questions? Is there such a thing as a perfect playlist? Radio stations? Choice of albums? Relying on the various algorithms? Albums? Is it ever acceptable is a diverse work place to drop Seasons in the Abyss by Slayer? Probably not.

On a Friday morning during a practically sunny commute, I was struck by a random idea to try with the office music policy…Theme for the day!

Maybe it was because I had been listening to Daft Punk’s Tron soundtrack the night before, but the idea of everyone sticking to their favourite movie soundtracks for the day seemed like a great idea. When I arrived in the office, I suggested it, everyone jumped on board and the discussions started!

What makes the best movie soundtrack?

Is it an excellent collection of songs? 

Is it an collection of original music created for the movie?

Or is it just that magical balance of new and old?

I can say this with a degree of certainty, there is no such thing as a perfect fit, but it sure was an interesting day as we took it in turns to play our favourites. Strangely, scores did not show up that much. Sorry John Williams, you just don’t cut it in our workplace.

Something else quite special happened, everyone was eager to chose AND was ready with an explanation of why. Instead of just being a reason to chose some music for the day, it was a reason for us all to interact and learn a little more about each other.

Movie soundtrack day was such a success I decided to think of more themes for the coming days, from the ridiculous, to the more logical. The only consistent rule we have stuck to is an album. It works quite well as you usually only end up with 40ish minutes before someone else gets to make the next choice.


6 degrees of separation

This proved to be a big hit. You know the rules to this game, just keep them connected. In a weird turn of events, it became a game of find a reason why you want to play an album you like through the 6 degrees rule.

Fun fact, we started the day with The Bacon Brothers! I didn’t even know Kevin Bacon was in a band, let alone had a 20 year history of making and releasing music.

We also learnt the The Bee Gees were originally chosen to play the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympics before being replaced by Muse.

Time frame themes

We have gone with a few the most popular was,  “1990 – 1999”. This resulted in the first time I think most of us in the office had listened to the Spice Girls debut album front to back. AND I learnt that they sampled the Digital Underground on a track! Which means the Spice Girls technically sampled Parliament! Mind blown.

Don’t believe me? Click here and go down the sampling rabbit hole…


The internet loves lists! Apparently, so do we. An excellent day was, “Choose any album from the RIAA diamond sellers list.” This resulted in a few interesting surprises. For starters, on a list of the biggest selling albums of all time, who would have thought Garth Brookes would appear more than the Beatles?! This was a great little theme as it is an interesting list and there is truly something for everyone on there. It was also the first time I have listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind in maybe 20 years. Sorry, I still don’t like it.

Making it personal

There are a few examples that the choice of music seemed less important than what we found out about each other and the stories that tied music to our lives. The best examples are “an album that reminds you of somewhere, somewhen or someone.” or “The first album you bought or loved“.

Stories were shared about university life, long drives with parents…everyone seemed to have a smile on their face that day as we all went with happy memories.

Keeping it fun

After a few weeks of playing the theme game, I chose “REMIX! REMIX!” which was a combination of any two of the previous themes.

I write the days theme on a post it note and stick it to the office speakers and having kept the pile of post it notes, to reduce the risk of repetition, we had ammo for a new game!

Everyone shuffled the pile of post its and pulled out two totally at random. This lead to some serious thought and we learnt the amazing fact that…drum roll…

Aerosmith, Michael Jackson, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, U2, Britney Spears, Kid Rock and N Sync are all on the RIAA diamond sellers list AND have been in the Simpsons!

Sorry Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, you didn’t make that cut because members of your band were missing from the show.

What am I getting at with all this nerding?

Music in the office can be such a difficult thing when you have a diverse work force. There is no such thing as a happy medium.

Radio stations can get repetitive, playlists often feel like the same slightly different collection of songs…so maybe you could find the resident office music nerd and ask them to decided a theme for everyone to choose albums to play that day and you might find out some awesome things about your co-workers and learn some amazing musical facts in the process.

I know times are changing and music is moving away from albums in favour of a more steady releases, but albums are the soundtrack to the key moments my life. I hope that doesn’t go away.

Thanks for letting get really nerdy about music.
Michael (The web guy at Burning Red)