Apps for Writers: Brain.FM

A long time ago, I snagged a lifetime subscription to Brain.fm on BoingBoing.net for something like $49.00. Man, what a bargain.

Brain.fm’s pulsing, chittering, algorithmically-generated tracks supposedly manipulate your state of mind, making you more sleepy, more relaxed, more meditative, or more focused on demand. In my personal experience, no other kind of music gets me in the zone faster or keeps me in the zone longer than a Brain.fm focus track.

I plug in my Beats Studio 3 headphones, tune into Brain.fm, and the next thing I know, I’ve written a chapter or two. Or three. Or four. It’s amazing.

When you crank up Brain.fm, you’ll see a quick menu offering tracks optimized for focusing, meditating, sleeping, recharging, or napping. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I used the app for months (!) before realizing the hamburger menu in the upper right provides access to additional features. These include a far broader range of tracks (including ambient, atmospheric, cinematic, droning, electronic, and various nature sounds), almost all of which can be paired with pulses optimized for focusing, relaxing, or sleeping.

Most of the time, I stream tracks directly from Brain.fm’s servers, but the app also supports downloading tracks, making it easy to save favorites or build an offline listening library of tracks you like.

The good folks at Brain.FM like to claim the effective of their product is supported by scientific proof. I’d advise taking these claims (and similar claims, made by vendors of similar products) with a grain of salt. The supportive studies cited usually involve very small sample sizes (and, unfortunately, seem directly sponsored by the folks creating the products). After doing a lot of reading, I’d say most claims about “brain wave entrainment” have more to do with marketing than good science. That said: the best ambient tracks I’ve found don’t seem to focus me the way Brain.FM tracks do. This is, however, one person’s personal experience, and your mileage may vary.

So: if you have trouble focusing while writing, download the app and try the five free sessions. If the app seems to work for you, you might start with a $7.00/month subscription … and if you find yourself using the app on a regular basis, you can always shift to the $50.00/year subscription (or Google around for coupon codes offering lifetime subscriptions for $70.00 or so).

I don’t work for Brain.FM, and I haven’t received any payments, discounts, or services in return for this post. I spend my own money on the products I endorse, so I can offer you more objective insights into their value. 

Written by mark