I really recommend listening to music while you work. In college we usually had the stereo blaring in the studio. Other times headphones were the norm. These days I’ve got some decent speakers hooked up to my computer. I’ve got a stereo in the studio, too, but it doesn’t have a proper line-in so I just leave my ipod upstairs connected to my clock radio when I’m home. I used to listen to smooth jazz on internet radio a lot but nowadays that makes me sleepy. Plus the station I used to listen to all the time started screwing with their playlists and doing more R&B than actual jazz. (The constant every other song station IDs and sales pitches really got on my nerves, too.)
Music can vary by personal taste and mood of the day. What I do suggest is getting ahold of instrumentals for times when you need to concentrate like writing or outlining a story. Words can be very distracting unless it’s something you’ve listened to so many times it’s all muddled together in your brain. Podcasts can be a good way to pass the time and to keep from feeling lonely. But if it’s just people talking I like to layer some of my own music underneath it or else I get bored fast. I don’t really watch TV shows or movies while I work though I know some people like the white noise. I like to focus on one thing at a time and unless it’s something I’ve seen a million times before, like the Angry Video Game Nerd reviews, I end up breaking from my work to watch. Some days I’ll even be doing that with old AVGN episodes if I really don’t feel like getting to work.
Something fun to do while working on comics is putting together playlists and soundtracks to stay focused and in the proper mindset. At some point Towniescomics used Green Day’s cover of Outsider by the Ramones as a theme song in my head. Grim & Saddam started outright with the theme to Perfect Strangers, one of my favorite zany sitcoms I planned on spoofing. 2071, the current project I’m working on, is still in the process of being figured out. It’s set in an alternate retrofuture so something like the Jetsons theme would be sort of appropriate if I could only find any other song in that style. There’s always scifi-themed bands like the Epoxies or the Phenomenauts I could fall back on. I suspect there’ll be a jumble of different songs to put together the proper mood to work in.
Lets talk about places to listen to music. Songza.fm is good for scouring for a particular song or artist. Pandora is good for finding similar-sounding songs to tunes you like. Musicovery is very similar but with more of a visual interface. Finally there’s Last.fm if you want your search to be a little less broad and like building up a musical profile. I tend to be a creature of habit when it comes to music I like. I put playlists together and listen to them repeatedly until I burn out. I remember when Green Day’s American Idiot came out it was almost the only thing I listened to for about 2 years. Lately I have soundtrack lists and rock lists based on mood. There’s also jazz lists but I tend to play those when I’m winding down. I think I need to put together a new list and it’s hard figuring out a new full string of songs I want to sit down and listen to.