The big issue here is the boss' PERCEPTION that developers are not producing at a level he expects or that the code being produced is crappy. The music edict is just a proxy for his real concern. It is critical for you to make sure the boss doesn't have this perception about YOU specifically. If so, you need to either find a way to change the boss' perception of you, or find another job. Most likely the boss' perception is general, and is not based on any real metrics of productivity or quality. What might help is suggesting to the boss how to collect such metrics, and more importantly how to present to his management that his team is very productive and has the highest quality work. It's very likely that the boss is being pressured by his management, so giving him the tools to fight back will help your teams' chance of avoiding the next round of layoffs. This is good for everyone: the boss gets credit, you are adding value, and everyone is aligned with the company's goals.