The unsung secret to stability and happiness during the pandemic

It’s been a hard year, but at least many people have found a reliable way to reduce stress and increase happiness. Netflix is great and exercise is important, but music, it turns out, has made a positive difference in the lives of many during an often-bleak and perpetually uncertain pandemic year.

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That’s according to a study that involved 2,000 American adults commissioned by global audio company Sound United LLC, parent company to high-end audio brands like Denon, Marantz, Polk Audio, Definitive Technology, Classé, and Bowers & Wilkins. 

These brand-commissioned studies always have to be taken with a grain of salt, and clearly Sound United has a dog in this fight, but the results have a ring of familiarity to many who have used work-from-home to inject more of a soundtrack into day-to-day life. 

In fact, according to the study, nearly 1 in 4 American adults working from home listen to music for 5+ hours per day, while 92% of Americans working remotely say music improves their energy levels during the workday. 

“It’s clearer now than ever before that for many Americans, music is more than just a hobby; it’s a lifeline,” says Kevin Duffy, CEO of Sound United. “We think it’s remarkable that three out of every four people have improved their mental health this year through the power of music, and so many are carrying that habit forward, no matter what the future brings. Music is universal and accessible to all, something any of us can turn to when other comforts are gone. For anyone struggling to get through the day — whether you are an overwhelmed parent, or someone looking for a job, or a grandparent missing faraway family — I encourage you to reach for the music that makes you feel good and reminds you that better days are ahead. Even just a few minutes with your favorite song or artist can make a tremendous difference.” 

Among the mental health benefits reported by respondents, staying sane ranked high (85%), as did productivity (85%) and greatly decreasing loneliness (79%). Specific to the pandemic, respondents report that music has become more important amidst the stresses of 2020 (79%), and that listening to a musician or song has been key to battling the Covid blues (74%).

These insights are interesting in part because they point to a hidden benefit of remote work. While some offices are fine with workers wearing headphones there can be pressure in structured work environments to confine music to personal time. Given the reported mental health benefits, that could be hurting worker wellbeing.

It may also be hurting productivity by cutting off a key motivational tool. According to the study results, creating a “pump-up” playlist to improve energy levels is popular with remote workers.

The survey survey was conducted earlier this year by Sound United in collaboration with the online sampling service Pollfish. The company places the survey margin of error at 3% with a 95% confidence level.

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