Slack huddles’ new jukebox hits just the right notes

A whimsical selection of hold music keeps you company as you wait for team members to join

By the team at Slack18th October 2023

The past few years have forced organisations around the world to rethink how we work together. No matter whether you’re remote, hybrid or in the office, the idea of ‘working alongside colleagues’ has evolved to include video conferencing, instant messaging and a lot of creative emoji.

Whether you’re jumping into an ad hoc brainstorming session or catching up with a colleague after being out on leave, sometimes it’s easier to chat live on the fly. This is where Slack huddles come in. Designed to power spontaneous discussions and working sessions, huddles make real-time collaboration feel flexible, inclusive and connected, no matter where you are.

Since launching in 2021, huddles have quickly become Slack’s fastest-adopted feature – and with a 95% customer satisfaction score, it’s also one of our most beloved. We quickly heard that users were especially into the hold music in huddles, and wanted more options to choose from. Not ones to pass up an opportunity to please our customers, we recently rolled out huddles jukebox, a collection of new tunes available to all users.

Olivia Grace, Senior Director, Product Management, Slack

‘People have found the huddles experience to be a great example of how Slack considers the little product details to delight our users in a big way. It’s all part of our commitment to being a good host of a platform where people spend so much of their workday.’

Olivia GraceSenior Director, Product Management, Slack

The magic of music makes the wait worthwhile

If you’ve ever found yourself alone in a Slack huddle, then you’ve likely experienced the smooth jazz that plays while you wait for your teammates to join. But you may not always be in a jazzy state of mind. This is where the jukebox comes in. While jazz will still be the default, the new update includes more tracks to fit your mood, from subway music and bass beats to a sound bath and nature meditation.

The new, more lightweight look of the jukebox makes it quick and easy to choose a song while you wait. You can change the music for every huddle, or set one of our new tunes as your default. If you prefer the sound of silence, that’s an option too.

So how does this all work? Just like before, the music will start when you’re alone in a huddle (unless you have it turned off in Preferences). We’ll fade in the smooth jazz and you can chill out or stop the music at any time. Otherwise, it will automatically pause once a colleague enters the huddle.

Screenshot of the new huddles UI experience

Huddles history: How the feature and music started

Creating a product that our customers love and that makes their work lives simpler and more productive is our ultimate goal here at Slack. We created huddles with the intention of making one-off meetings and check-ins faster, easier and enjoyable.

You can stay in a huddle for as long as you want to remain available to your team. Huddles don’t have start and stop times like traditional meetings, and are often used for office hours or casual co-working sessions, where people can pop in and out as they please. It was Slack’s Senior Director of Product Design, Anna Niess, who wanted to incorporate some surprise and delight into the product and had the idea to use the music produced for Glitch – the original game that the Slack team built before pivoting to Slack – as an homage to our founding story.

It’s functional too: the music gently lets people know when they’re the last one in the huddle, without necessarily encouraging them to leave. We also automatically mute your microphone. This way, you can choose to hop out or enjoy the music until the next person joins.

‘Our team knew that people would love the jazz hold music in huddles. But we could have never anticipated the buzz it generated in customer conversations and social media. The new huddles jukebox is our way of building on that experience and offering our customers moments of playfulness at work.’

Anna NiessSenior Director of Product Design, Slack

The method behind the music: How we chose the huddles line-up

Like most of our products, Slack tested the huddles jazz music both internally and externally with pilot customers. Many people shared that it brightened their day, and after launch, the social chatter made it clear how much customers loved it. We’ve even seen multiple people post their own remixes.

‘Creativity and artistic expression are at the core of what we do, so I’ve always been drawn to the uniqueness of Slack’s huddles’ jazz music,’ says Dan Lichtenberg, the founder and Creative Director of Slow Clap Productions.

It wasn’t long before we had customer requests for more options. So, we collaborated with sound designer Mikey Maleki to create new tracks. We drew inspiration from a wide range of musical and sonic ideas, including the diverse environmental soundscapes of Northern California and the gentle tones of Japanese ambient music. We pulled from the grooving rhythms and funky budget synths of disco music, the dusty drums and mellow electric pianos of lo-fi house music, and the feel-good bossa vibes of ’60s Italian lounge music.

Dan Lichtenberg, Founder and Creative Director, Slow Clap Productions

‘The new huddles beats are a thoughtful and nice touch to one of my team’s favourite Slack features.’

Dan LichtenbergFounder and Creative Director, Slow Clap Productions

The resulting huddles jukebox offers an array of tunes for every moment and mood:

  • Waiting room: Gentle, flowy and delightful music to move to
  • Subway music: A groovy tune that nicely complements deep work
  • Smooth jazz: The beloved default jazz that keeps you feeling good as you wait for teammates
  • Whistle: A whistled version of the original jazz track; it’s upbeat and folksy
  • Focus beats: Ambient, atmospheric sound that’s perfect for focusing
  • Happy bass: Energetic, feel-good music to boost your mood
  • Sound bath: Gentle, meditative sound that’s restorative and calming
  • Nature meditation: A relaxing and immersive score that’s reminiscent of nature and helps you to decompress

‘Music can be a great source of motivation, creativity and stress relief. Incorporating music into Slack’s software is a great way to enhance and even humanise the experience, ultimately making work more enjoyable.’

Mikey MalekiHuddles sound designer

Look out for more huddles updates soon

This playful update is just the beginning. We’ve also recently added links to make it easier to hop into a huddle from anywhere, and improved screen sharing and drawing. There’s even a new invitation notification that allows you to tap to join, decline or respond ‘be there soon’. Thanks to your feedback, we look forward to continuing to build on the experience with features that make working from anywhere even more fun and intuitive.

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