What Do You Listen To in Your Art Studio?

I find music to be an important part of my process in the studio. Most mornings I start with a disco or top hits channel on Pandora to get me going. Later, I tend to listen to Coldplay, Five for Fighting, Ludovico Einaudi, or a Meditation, Baroque or New-age station on Pandora.

In the afternoons, I like the quieter stuff to wind down from the day before I pick up my youngest daughter from school. I thought it would be fun to ask other artists what they listen to. Here are the responses.

Feel free to add your own music selections in the comment section below!



Alyssa Monks

I listen to all different things … NPR, podcasts, meditations, music and sometimes silence.

NPR: Almost all its programming, Radiolab, This American Life, Fresh Air, Leonard Lopate, Brian Lehrer

Podcasts: Tara Brach, The Skeptics Guide to the Universe, Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Stuff You Should Know, Bill Maher, Freakonomics, The Moth

Music: Ani DiFranco, Paul Simon, Cat Power, Natalie Merchant, and stuff I don’t even remember right now, but usually pretty passionate and emotional music works for me.


Alex Couwenberg

My taste varies depending on my mood. I have a pretty extensive vinyl collection of about 3,000 albums and only listen to records while I’m working. I listen to anything from jazz/blues — La Verne Baker and Bessie Smith — to ’50s and ’60s rock ‘n’ roll — Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Fats Domino, The Ronettes and The Supremes.

• ’60s garage — The Sonics, The Wailers, Rolling Stones, The Who

• Reggae/ska/rocksteady — The Maytals, Gregory Isaacs, The Selecter, The Specials

• Lots of ’70s and ’80s punk — Iggy and the Stooges, The Ramones, The Heartbreakers, The New York Dolls, Blondie

• UK punk — The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Buzzcocks

After about the early ’90s when grunge and hip-hop started to take over, I lost all hope in music. With the exception of a few bands; that is, a very, very, very, very, very short list of music that fuels my studio practice.


Peri Schwartz

When I’m working in the studio I listen to playlists of my favorite composers, our NPR station and podcasts. Each has its special time.

To get me started I listen to the news, often world news from the BBC.

When I finally get to sit and work, I listen over and over again to my favorite pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms and the other greats.

If I feel the need to hear something new I will go to WQXR and enjoy their selections. Listening to the radio is a way for me to hear music and performers I am unfamiliar with.

Cleaning up is the perfect time to listen to podcasts. I love Slate’s Political and Culture Gabfests, This American Life and NPR’s Radiolab.



Jamie Kirkland

While painting in the mornings, I typically listen to quieter music: classical, smooth jazz or piano on Spotify.

Also, in the mornings I sometimes want some company in the studio, so I look to Terry Gross for Fresh Air interviews, The Diane Rehm Show, Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!, A Prairie Home Companion, Artists Helping Artists on BlogTalkRadio, particularly the interviews with other artists. I have the silver level of Alyson B. Stanfield’s Art Biz Coach, which I enjoy.

In the afternoon, it is loud and thumping in the studio, as loud as my equipment will go. I like the reggae and soul radio stations on Spotify. Sometimes I select its Top 100 here and or in the UK. The mood created in the afternoon is actually pretty aggressive, a driving beat that energizes me and excites me to keep the brush moving!



Johnnie Winona Ross

I am blessed to live in a country setting, thus my studio is mostly quiet. But in late afternoons when I need a pick-up, I would listen to the Late Night Alumni’s album, When a Beat Becomes a Sound.


What do you listen to in your studio? Tell us in the comment section below!

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