Make music at 112bpm if you want to get on Spotify study playlists, suggests new research

Olivia Rodrigo
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for MRC)

Olivia Rodrigo’s Drivers License is the most popular homework song (and may also help if you’re preparing for your driving test)

If your aim is to make music that ends up on those Spotify ‘study’ playlists - and, if it is, you might want to think about aiming higher - new research indicates that a tempo of 112bpm is the one that you should be hitting.

Based on analysis of more than 100,000, it turns out that this ‘walking pace’ is the average tempo of tracks that appears in focus-friendly playlists, with Olivia Rodrigo’s Drivers License (144bpm, or 72bpm if you think of it as being in half time) said to the most popular song to cram to. 

Joji’s Slow Dancing In The Dark (89bpm) is also said to be a favourite, as are The Lumineers’ Ophelia (76bpm), Harry Styles’ Falling (110bpm) and Lewis Capaldi’s Before You Go (right in the sweet spot at 112bpm), which rounds out the top 5.

More surprisingly, the most popular study artist is said to be spiritely Korean K-pop band BTS. Hans Zimmer, Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and a certain Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart are more predictable names in the top 5, with Ed Sheeran, John Williams, Harry Styles, Thomas Newman and Ariana Grande also popular when people need to pull an all-nighter.

Commenting on the research, Avery Morgan, Chief Communications Officer at EduBirdie, which carried it out, said: “Music can be very beneficial for studying, as it allows students to create the right mood, relax and destress, improve focus and reduce boredom over long study sessions. In fact, listening to Mozart has even been suggested to help memorisation.

“The general wisdom is that the best songs for concentrating are atmospheric, ambient sounds. Therefore, it’s no surprise to see lo-fi beats come out on top as the world’s favourite studying songs. On the other hand, some students seem to be able to remain focused listening to popular artists such as Olivia Rodrigo, BTS and Taylor Swift, whilst others may prefer to work in silence to avoid any distractions. 

“Although every student’s preferences are unique, we would recommend listening to songs without lyrics which allow you to focus on the task at hand, whilst blocking out any external distractions. The key is background music, keeping the volume at a low level and choosing songs which you don’t have strong feelings about, in order to stay focused and productive during study sessions.”

Got that? Right - stop reading this and go and do your homework.

Ben Rogerson

I’m the Deputy Editor of MusicRadar, having worked on the site since its launch in 2007. I previously spent eight years working on our sister magazine, Computer Music. I’ve been playing the piano, gigging in bands and failing to finish tracks at home for more than 30 years, 24 of which I’ve also spent writing about music and the ever-changing technology used to make it. 

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