At LinkedIn, employees are encouraged to jam out like rock stars in rooms that are stocked with high-end music equipment.
The company’s music program got its start in 2010, during a monthly community-building event the company calls InDays. One week after engineering director Michael Olivier joined the company, he caught the finals of a LinkedIn Idol singing contest, the InDay activity for the month.
One of the finalists was Caitlin Crump, a data scientist who had also recently joined LinkedIn.
“I was taken by her singing,” Olivier told Business Insider. “I wanted to play music in Mountain View, so I followed up with her to see if she would be interested.”
After they found a drummer during another all-hands event, when new hires were asked to demonstrate a special skill, they decided to form a band together.
They named themselves “NextPlay” in honor of CEO Jeff Weiner’s business philosophy. Legendary Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski yells out “next play” whenever the team completes a play, regardless of how it went. That refusal to dwell on failure informs Weiner’s approach to leadership, and it’s a big catchphrase around the office.
Once they had three people committed to NextPlay, the band contacted the company for funding.
“It was right around the time of the IPO, so obviously it was a good time to do it, but they’ve always been supportive of the idea,” Olivier said. “It turns out there are a lot of musicians here.”
Not unlike your classic garage band, NextPlay got their start practicing in a loading dock that had been converted into a makeshift studio. They set up their equipment in a dusty corner with exposed rafters and packed file cabinets.