Over the past few years, lofi music has become increasingly popular among content creators. But what exactly is lofi music? And why is it so well-loved by people around the world?
Lofi Music (aka lo-fi or LoFi music) stands for “low fidelity” music that contains imperfections, be it deliberate or not, such as noise, distortion or other audio dynamics that would not typically be present on hifi (high fidelity) music, for example, “radio-friendly” pro studio released music.
Lo-Fi music can be any type or genre of music under the sun.
I did my own research to see what type of lofi music the general population is listening to right now. Currently “slow lo-fi beats” is by far the most popular type of lofi music according to Spotify.
You could have rock, indie, house, hip-hop or any other musical genre you can think of that is produced as lofi music. However, the vast majority of the population seems to associate lofi music with chilled slow beats or hip hop.
As a producer of lofi music, in this article I want to explain what lofi music really is, covering:
- What does lofi mean in music?
- Is lofi music a genre of music?
- What is special about lofi music?
- Why is lofi music so relaxing?
- Is lofi music good for studying?
- Where can I download lofi music for free?
What Does Lofi Mean In music?
Lofi music (also known as Low fidelity) is a genre of music characterised by a low-quality recording and production value, often featuring heavily distorted baselines, muffled drums, filtered vocals, and lofi organic instruments.
It has been around for several decades and its appeal lies in the “DIY” or do-it-yourself aesthetic.
In very simple terms, lofi music is any song that is not highly produced, featuring raw recordings with all the noise and imperfections present.
For many, this is what makes lofi music so appealing as we hear the artists’ raw creative recording without lots of additional effects or audio cleaning, which polishes the sound and takes away from the core creativity of the song.
Is Lofi Music A Genre Of Music?
Lofi music is not a musical genre, however, it is closely associated with certain genres of music such as “lofi hip-hop” or “lofi chill beats”.
If you search Spotify or YouTube playlists for the term “lofi”, the most popular genres of music that will appear will be “lofi beats, “lofi chill” and “lofi hip-hop”.
Because lo-fi has grown in popularity in the lofi chilled beats genre, the vast majority of popular lofi music is a slow tempo.
As I mentioned before, lofi music can be any musical genre, therefore, can be any tempo.
As lofi chilled beats and lofi hip-hop are the most popular musical genres under the lo-fi umbrella, typically the BPM (beats per minute) per track is between 60BPM to 80BPM, which is slow.
To check this, I completed a little research on the most popular Spotify lo-fi playlist “Lo-Fi Beats” and sampled the top 20 tracks to check the BPM.
The average BPM (beats per minute) of the top twenty tracks was 77BPM.
What Is Special About Lofi Music?
Many people credit the surge in popularity of lofi music to the early lockdowns of the 2020 pandemic when millions were stuck at home looking for a distraction.
Some suggest that the smooth beats, repetition and lo-fi sound create a safe mental space for many in the midst of a crazy world.
An excellent study completed by Justin Wang titled, “Lo-Fi Hip-Hop: Beats to Relax/Study Too” suggests that many of today’s youth are listening to lofi chilled beats because of stress.
Perhaps the pandemic affected the music we listen to, things however lofi music has been around for much longer than 2020, with many loving it as a soundtrack to work or study too.
Why Is Lofi Music So Difficult To Define?
Lofi music, in general, is difficult to define, as music and audio are subjective.
Lofi music does not relate to a specific musical genre. For example, you could have “lo-fi house”, “lo-fi rock”, “lo-fi POP”, “lo-fi Hip-Hop” or whatever!
The only common feature that we music producers can agree on is the quality of the audio recording itself.
For example, if I produce a “hifi” professional commercial music track, I will absolutely ensure that the music meets the following criteria:
- The music contains zero hum or buzz.
- The music contains zero noise.
- The music has clarity in the mix – each instrument will be well placed to not interfere with the others.
- The lower instruments such as kick drum and bass are well controlled – meaning that they will not dominate the music or create a “muddy” sound.
- My snare hits are crisp.
- My recording volumes are carefully set.
- The volume levels are correct – no distortion.
- The music is beautifully performed without mistakes.
In contrast, when I produce lofi music, these criteria become less important. It is more about communicating the “feeling” of the music.
So what if bang my guitar against my microphone during the recording – it captures a moment right?
This is the reason so many are now gravitating to the world of lofi music. It is about hearing the artist in their setting – DIY bedroom or professional studio – in the moment, grabbing recordings and creating an intimate lofi aesthetic.
As a listener, you feel you are getting a first listen to the rough demos.
Personally, as a music producer, lofi music is incredibly liberating. It does not mean that I throw out my musical standards and let the audio quality drop, but it means that I can relax a bit and start thinking about the music again and less about the audio quality.
Why Is Lofi Music So Relaxing?
The effects of listening to lofi music are twofold – both physical and mental.
On the physical side, studies have shown that listening to calming tunes like those found in the lofi chilled beats genre can lower our heart rate and blood pressure levels, reducing stress levels in the process.
On the mental side of things, listening to lofi can inspire creativity and help us focus on whatever task we might be working on at any given time – making it great for studying or getting creative work done.
Any slower bat music that allows our minds to wander is relaxing and a great release for our creativity.
Is Lofi Music Good For Studying?
Lofi beats to study too has appeared everywhere since 2017 and onwards, but is it the best music to study to?
To date, I cannot find any concrete research or evidence that points to “lofi beats” specifically as being the best academic choice to give your brain an advantage in the upcoming exam, however, lofi beats as a music genre has a lot of characteristics the psychology experts agree could help:
1. No Lyrics
Typically, lo-fi beats have no lyrics and are mostly instrumental.
It has been found that listening to music with lyrics while studying is detrimental to retaining information. [source]
If you are relaxed and calm, your mind can better focus on your task.
Lofi beats are soothing and calm music that can get your mind into a relaxed state ready for the task at hand.
3. Repetitive Beats
Personally, I like to listen to lo-fi beats while working as the music uses repetitive beats and predictable melody changes.
This means that my mind is not “actively” listening, wondering what will happen next, and the lofi beats create a calm soundtrack and atmosphere where it does not distract me.
4. Atmospheric Background Music
A paper published by the Oxford University Press revealed that ambient background noise at a relatively “medium” volume actually fuels people’s creativity. [source]
Lo-fi beats are the type of soundtrack that is best listened to at a low or medium volume.
As it is lofi it will most likely contain background noise in the recording too, including hum and white noise hiss.
Where Can I Download Lofi Music For Free?
If you are looking to download lofi house music or DMCA safe lofi beats for your Twitch stream, check out the following releases from my own library.
Hope you enjoy!
There’s no denying that lofi music has become increasingly popular over recent years. Perhaps our stressed-out brains love the release it gives us.
The unique style of some lofi chill and lofi beats has some incredible benefits when it comes to calming our minds and inspiring creativity. Whether you need some soothing background noise while studying or simply want something calming to listen to while chilling out after a long day, lofi music is a great option.