8 best study playlists for work, concentration and focus

best study playlists for work
(Image credit: Lofi Girl)

On YouTube, Lofi Girl has 11 million subscribers thanks to the channel's massively successful lofi hip hop radio - beats to relax/study to stream that's almost always live. The takeaway? People love to work, study, and relax with some music going in the background, but some music can be distracting, so you need the right playlist.

We at What Hi-Fi? have been making playlists for a long time, so not only have we drummed up our own official What Hi-Fi? playlist for concentration and focus but we've rounded up some of the best concentration and focus playlists on the internet too, for you to check out.

Whether you just want chill, ambient beats or some great, classic music you can put on in the background without feeling distracted, we've found something for everyone below, so crack open that textbook or load up that spreadsheet and have a listen.

Need new headphones to help you focus on the task at hand? Our best headphones for study buying guide is here for you too.

1. Chill Melancholy by What Hi-Fi? (Spotify & Tidal)

Imagine: It's four o'clock on a Wednesday, but the sky's already dark, and the rain's coming down. You've got hours more of stuff to do, but all you're doing, right now, is looking out the window, listening to the silence. Enter Chill Melancholy.

So many playlists for vibing or chilling out are filled with slower, sadder joints, but it's rare that you see tracks from artists you recognise. And so many of these playlists lean into just electronic music or just low-fi indie stuff or only piano-driven tracks. Not to mention there's rarely an eye for how one track might balance out and flow into another in these lists.

We set out to try and fix these problems with Chill Melancholy. It's got chill, moody picks from artists you'll recognise, but there's also a healthy variety of genres across the playlist's hour-long runtime, including the familiar electronic, indie, and piano-driven sounds of these kinds of playlists.

It might not be as expansive as the other playlists on our list, offering up an infinite amount of music to listen to forever, but if you've ever wondered what a What HiFi? take on a playlist for concentration and focus sounds like, check this out!

Not on Spotify? Check out Chill Melancholy on Tidal

2. Lofi Girl's lofi hip-hop music – beats to relax/study to

Here we've got possibly the biggest, most classic playlist for concentration and focus: Lofi Girl's original playlist. This one's got over 6 million likes on Spotify for a reason, too: it's exceptionally chill. This playlist is chock full of lowkey (and lo-fi) beats that fade perfectly into the background, never becoming a distraction.

If you find vocals or a huge variety of instrumentation or lots of effects to be a bit much when you're trying to concentrate and focus, these minimalist beats won't ever ask too much of you. Plus, the energy of the picks on this playlist is always laid back, relaxed, and at least vaguely upbeat.

You probably won't find major hits from big artists on this playlist, but that's part of the charm: if your favourite song came on in the middle of a study session, suddenly you're not making headway on that last chapter anymore and you're in an impromptu karaoke session.

Not on Spotify? No problem. Check out Lofi Girl's playlist on a huge number of platforms

3. Spotify's Peaceful Piano

It's well known that listening to classical music can help with focus and concentration, but where do you start if you're not already a Leonard Bernstein fan? Well, why not check out Spotify's Peaceful Piano playlist? As the name suggests, in this playlist you'll find an endless suite of peaceful, piano-driven music.

Like many playlists to use for focus and concentration, there aren't vocals here, and you'll just find piano music, not orchestral stuff, but unlike many other similar playlists, these aren't all upbeat tracks. Often, picks can be wistful and slightly sad, serene with the feeling that you're floating through space but also a bit lonely as well.

Nonetheless, these all fade into the background easily while still filling a space with music and keeping your ears happy. If you're looking for something a little slower and subtler to put on, check out Peaceful Piano.

4. Apple Music's Study Beats

Study Beats is like Apple Music's take on Lofi Girl's playlist. Study Beats cultivates a similar vibe, but tracks here are generally cleaner and more electronic, and there are a lot more picks with vocals. Apple describes the playlist as one full of "slinky, downtempo grooves" that's great for setting the mood, which is true, but there are lots of more energetic, dynamic tracks, too.

Apple electronics are slick, well-produced, and thoroughly modern, and this Study Beats playlist has a lot of the same characteristics. Study Beats is a great way to cleanly and smoothly enjoy rhythmic, beat-heavy background music that, even with vocals, never feels distracting or overbearing. And even though this is a beats playlist designed for productivity and focus, there's a healthy amount of variety there.

If you're an Apple Music user, make sure to check out Study Beats for some excellent music to help you concentrate and focus.

5. Apple Music's Pure Focus

Like the idea of chill beats to study and relax to but just wish they were a bit more ambient and less hip-hop sounding? Enter Apple Music's Pure Focus playlist. Much like Apple Music's Study Beats playlist, the Pure Focus one is on the cleaner, more minimalist electronica side of the spectrum, but this playlist is much more ambient and comes without a spate of vocal-heavy tracks.

This playlist is perfect for doing some reading, as there's nothing in this playlist at all that might pull you out of a book, but you'll still get to enjoy an endless supply of smooth, groovy music that's updated constantly by the editors over at Apple Music. Plus, this is nice way to bridge the gap between Spotify's Peaceful Piano playlist and Apple Music's Study Beats playlist: it's got beats and electronic sounds, but lots of piano and ambient elements, too.

If you aren't happy filling your space with silence while you work, consider checking out the Pure Focus playlist on Apple Music.

6. Spotify's Jazz Relax

You might've noticed that many of these concentration and focus playlists are filled with electronic sounds (outside of Peaceful Piano) and hip-hop beats, but maybe that's not your thing. But what if you still want something relatively rhythmic and lively to put on in the background while you get to work? 

Enter Spotify's Jazz Relax playlist. As you might be able to guess, this is a collection of smooth jazz, of both the vocal and instrumental variety, that runs the gamut from punchier, more upbeat tracks to slower, more contemplative pieces. Jazz is a huge genre, and this playlist delights in the variety of sounds it has to offer without ever becoming distracting.

If you like jazz, or even the idea of jazz, but don't know where to start, why not start with Spotify's Jazz Relax playlist?

7. Apple Music's Lofi Japan

Lofi Girl might have brought the chill, lo-fi beats phenomena to the mainstream, but this type of music has been around for a long time, and this unique style can be, largely, traced back to Japan's electronic music scene. Japanese music legends like Nujabes have been making this kind of beat-driven ambient music for ages.

Accordingly, Apple Music's Lofi Japan playlist tries to offer up those kinds of tracks. It'll sound fairly similar to Lofi Girl's, but there's a different character to these tracks and a different suite of sounds relied on that likely comes down to the different musical cultures that both of these playlists come from. 

So, if you're tired of all the low-fi hip-hop beats playlists out there but still like that sound, why not check out Apple Music's Lofi Japan playlist and see where it started?

8. Tidal's Decaf

What if you, much like most of the world, like vocals in your music – but you don't need them out of the way when you're trying to focus or concentrate? You're in luck because Tidal has the Decaf playlist for you. This is a collection of low-fi, indie-electro pop, acoustic, and chill R&B, according to its description.

You'll find lots of vocals and even tracks from artists you'll recognise (big, mainstream ones, too) but, true to its name, this playlist is full-bodied and robust without the frantic intensity of louder, harder, more distracting tracks. It's a clever playlist that relies on the tendency of a lot of music today to be stripped-down, chill, and above all else, a vibe.

If you're looking for something to throw on with artists you'll recognise but still won't be distracted by, check out Tidal's Decaf playlist.


How to transfer Spotify playlists to Apple Music

Check out the official What Hi-Fi? playlist

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Ruben Circelli

Ruben is a long-time freelance consumer technology and gaming journalist, and was previously a Staff Writer at What Hi-Fi?. Since 2014, Ruben has written news, reviews, features, guides, and everything in-between at a huge variety of outlets that include Lifewire, PCGamesN, GamesRadar+, TheGamer, Twinfinite, and many more. Ruben's a dedicated gamer, tech nerd, and the kind of person who misses physical media. In his spare time, you can find Ruben cooking something delicious or, more likely, lying in bed consuming content.

  • manicm
    Any of Brian Eno's ambient albums, also his 2018 compilation Music For Installations.
  • Gray
    You can study.
    You can listen to music.
    You cannot do both properly simultaneously.

    You may think you can.....