In 1964 the album The Sounds of the Office was released, and regaled the listener for 35 minutes with the sound of typewriters clacking and coffee being made. "The sounds of the office are essentially sounds of paper and machines," the liner notes explained. If this eccentric corporate field recording were made today, the typewriters would be computer keyboards and the coffee would come in pods. But it would also include a set of sounds, unheard in the 1960s workplace and increasingly common in its 2017 descendant - the office playlist. In 2016, PRS for Music, the organisation that collects royalties for UK songwriters and composers, granted more than 27 000 licences to offices to play recorded music. That is a small proportion of the 351 000 British workplaces - including pubs, shops and hairdressers - licensed to play music, but the organisation says the number is growing. Turning workspaces into huge jukeboxes has its pitfalls. The prospect of sitting at your desk being exposed t...

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