Julie Platt is a PhD candidate in Rhetoric and Writing at Michigan State University and a permanent author at GradHacker. You can follow her on twitter at @aristotle_julep .
I have a hard time working without music. No matter what grad school-related task I am working on, it just feels strange to be doing it in silence. In a world where a pair of earbuds are as expected an accessory as a pair of pants, it's clear that I'm not alone in my need to have music playing whenever I'm engaged in some serious cognitive activity. However, I'm pretty particular about what I listen to, and I've cultivated quite a collection of music that works for work. Here, I detail some of the music, sites, and apps I've discovered over the years and share with you some sample work soundtracks.
Podcasts: I'm a podcast fanatic. The concept still makes me geek out: it's so incredibly cool to me that you can make your own radio show and share it with anyone who has Internet access. When I started listening to podcasts several years ago, I found myself drawn to music podcasts that showcased downtempo and ambient electronica. Two of the standouts for me were Dave's Lounge  and The Chillcast with Anji Bee . These are both long-running, consistent shows that offer new independent music on a regular basis. The gentle blips and boops of these shows' "chillout music" soothe my studying brain without being too jarring, and without calling too much attention to themselves.
Internet Radio: Streaming Internet radio is ubiquitous; thousands upon thousands of stations are out there and more seem to appear all the time. It can get overwhelming, but I have found two consistently excellent streams: Radio Paradise , an eclectic station broadcasting rock, electronica, folk, and world music; and SomaFM , a collective comprised of 18 unique stations that range from industrial to house to indie rock. My favorite Soma stations are Groove Salad , a warm downtempo stream, and Digitalis , a station that plays what one might call "folktronica" or "laptop rock." My favorite streaming radio app is the pricey but excellent Radium  (OSX, $24.99), which allows you to search thousands of stations all over the world, save your favorites, and share what you're listening to with your favorite social networks.
Streaming Services: Of course, nothing beats absorbing yourself in a regular old album. New streaming services such as Mog , Rdio , and Spotify  allow you to listen to virtually any album you can think of, at any time. I pay a little extra for Spotify Premium so I can listen to my favorite albums on my iPhone. Some of the gems in my work soundtrack include: the grandaddy of all ambient records, Brian Eno's Music for Airports ; electronica-tinged post-rock by my favorite Milwaukee band Lights Out Asia ; the chillwave classic Within and Without by Washed Out ; and albums by indie electronica musicians Four Tet , Telefon Tel Aviv , Gang Colours , and College .
I've created two Spotify playlists for GradHacker readers to groove along to while working: my "Chilled " playlist is mellow, soothing, and a little melancholic; my "Amped " playlist is for those hackers who prefer something a lot more uptempo to get going on their projects. I hope you enjoy them both.
What about you? What music helps you get work done? What are your favorite music apps and sites?