The beat goes on: How TrendKite and OutboundEngine use music to motivate

by Kelly O'Halloran
August 25, 2017

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Austin’s loving embrace of music far exceeds that of ACL Festival, SXSW and hundreds of live shows every night. For Austinites, music is a part of life — even in the workplace.

At TrendKite and OutboundEngine, two fast-growing Austin startups, music is a must.

“From very curated Spotify playlists to the ‘ringing’ of the gong, music is ingrained in the culture at TrendKite,” said Lacey Miller, content marketing manager. “We required that the office was wired with a speaker system. Each suite has its own set of controls, so you’ve got groups rocking to today’s hits, jammin’ 80s rock or chillin’ to old country. The music is constant, and it gives each suite individuality.”

Plus, once weekly, the team celebrates "Hall & Oates Friday." This tradition dates to Trendkite’s early days, and involves blasting beats throughout the day from the legendary 80s duo.

“Motion is all about emotion and music creates emotion,” said TrendKite co-founder AJ Bruno.

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When new people join the company, they tour the office and meet co-workers. But their introduction to the music controls? That’s “sacred,” said Miller. “You’re told a cautionary tale of music missteps. We tell them, ‘Feel free to change up the music but give yourself time to understand what tunes define the company culture.’”

What classifies as misstep? Per Miller, if Nickelback were to come over the speakers, any employee — regardless of their start date — should change the station immediately.

Similarly, when OutboundEngine moved into its new spot overlooking Town Lake, Tom Sloss, the company’s SVP of finance, said they installed Sonos speakers across the entire office. But the sound system is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Each group gets to decide what they hear in their part of the office,” Sloss said.

For the Enginites of OutboundEngine, in addition to collaborative Spotify lists, the company has hosted in-house concerts since the summer of 2015. Booked personally by Sloss, bands from a variety of genres — rock, pop, rap, country R&B and garage/punk rock — have performed.   

"To date, we have had seven concerts that have featured 11 different bands,” Sloss said. “Every startup has happy hours, ping pong tables and bean bag chairs. How many have private concerts on their break room stage with a club level sound system. How cool is that?!”

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Representatives from both companies agree that music impacts the team culture for the better.

“The music is part of breeding a culture of creativity and fun while cultivating feel-good energy to keep us all engaged and active during the day,” said Miller. “You can’t tune out and fall asleep at your desk when your coworkers are moving and jammin’ to Despacito!”

Amanda Johnson, OutboundEngine’s marketing manager, added that leaving the music in the hands of the employees provides both a sense of ownership and an icebreaker.

“We all feel more empowered to influence our work environment, and it helps us practice compromise,” said Johnson. “Plus, it's a lot of fun to learn more about your coworkers via their taste in music — sometimes, they surprise you.”

As for the songs that best describe their teams’ spirit:

The White Panda,” by Bearly Legal (Continuous Mix)” — Miller

Fight for Your Right (to Party),” by Beastie Boys — Sloss

Good as Hell,” by Lizzo — Johnson

 

Images provided by companies and Shutterstock.


How does your team cultivate a fun work environment? Let us know with a tip or on Twitter @BuiltInAustin

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