Making a playlist for a party is a lot like a regular job. If you make a mess of it, you’re going to hear about it. If you do a good job, sure, you might get a pat on the back. But you’re not going to win any medals.
And it’s no mean feat either. They say that after just four moves in chess, the number of possible positions is infinite. Such is the way with music playlists! Each – including yours – is unique.
But it’s worth it; nothing is like the thrill of seeing people enjoying the music you’re playing. It’s like popping bubble wrap; it just hits the spot.
Subscription-based apps like Spotify or Apple have the sum of human musical efforts conveniently located in your hand. What’s more, they’ve made it very easy to knock a playlist together. In this guide, we’re going to show you how to make a playlist to get that pat on the back!
What is a Playlist?
Don’t worry, we’re not trying to be philosophical here. We’re just working over a basic definition to get the ball rolling.
There are basically two kinds of playlists. The first is an effort to collate the best of a certain genre, artist, or theme. It’s a collection, a curation, a museum of sorts.
Then you’ve got an event playlist, the true playlist, the party playlist! They’re built to take party-goers on a journey as they indulge in the drama of the night.
You can make your niche 90’s Britpop b-sides playlist another day. Today is about the party playlist folks!
How to Make a Playlist on Spotify
Spotify conveniently syncs your account across your devices (if that’s what you want). So you can make your playlist on your laptop and play it from your phone at the party.
It’s very straightforward to get started. You have the option of two subscriptions: free or premium (€9.99 per month). The free subscription is subsided by adverts played between songs. And that is not ideal during an event.
Imagine experiencing an absolute banger where everybody is singing along, followed by an advert about car insurance — instant mood killer. Get the Premium version and forget the adverts.
But how do you actually make it? Very simply:
- Click the library button on the bottom of the screen.
- Hit Playlists at the top.
- Select Create Playlist. A window will pop up where you can name the playlist.
- Hit Create.
- Use the search function to find artists, songs, or genres.
- When you find the song you want, tap the three lines on the right of the title.
- Click Add to Playlist.
Now here’s how to make your playlist sound truly professional – introducing the Crossfade Feature. It will eliminate trailing gaps, indulgent intros, and weird outros. It creates smooth transitions between songs, so no more awkward dancers breaking the rhythm!
- Tap Home.
- Tap Settings.
- Select Playback.
- Scroll down to Crossfade.
- Drag the slider to select the desired crossfade length.
And here’s one final tip, forget the slider. Have the machine do it for you. Simply switch the Gapless button on. Now you’re free to enjoy your party instead of babysitting your playlist!
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Where to Start?
It might seem like a daunting or maybe exciting task, depending on your disposition. Regardless, you have a big task ahead: taking musical history and distilling it into an evenings worth of magic.
The first rule in how to make a playlist is knowing your audience. You also need to know the purpose of the playlist. Is it a midweek chilled scenario? Is it a Sunday lunch? Is it a huge party to end all parties?
All of the experts will tell you the same thing – yes, of course, there are experts – from DJs, to TV show supervisors, to the in house playlist creators at Spotify.
Meg Tarquinio, Head of Curation at Spotify, says “For me, it’s less about the linear steps. What’s the creative spark for the playlist? Because there’s always one,”. So if you have one killer song in mind, grab that vibe and go with it.
Meg goes further by saying, “I think the best playlists start from an eccentric and eclectic idea.” So don’t be scared to put yourself out there.
How to Choose Songs for Your Playlist
Not every song is going to be a hit with everyone. That would be impossible – not everyone can have as good a taste as you.
Giving your guests the occasional bum song is a good thing. It gives them a chance to go to the bar, to the toilet, or maybe outside for a breath of fresh air.
But here’s the thing, one is an exception. Two is worrying, and three is officially a pattern. So don’t give them too many chances to escape outside. Be ruthless!
If you want to create a jovial party atmosphere, maybe it’s not the right time to be introducing people to entirely new music? So don’t be afraid of the cringe. If you try to express your coolness, the dance floor will get awkward. Go be cool somewhere else.
And lastly, use your knowledge of your guests to your advantage! Are there inside jokes at your company with particular songs? Are there bands you know people particularly love? Is there a song that everyone hates? A well-placed joke could change the reflection of the whole night!
How Many Songs Should You Add to Your Playlist?
Some of us of a certain vintage (say, 25 and over?) will remember when you could only make playlists of 10 songs. Now, we’re spoilt.
We live in a time where we can make an infinitely long playlist. Which would be cool if our parties went on forever. But alas, they can’t. We’ve got deadlines to make, meals to cook, and Netflix series to get through.
A reasonable size could be anywhere between 30 and 50 songs. And let’s stick to a rule of one song and one song only for any single artist. You could tiptoe around that rule by playing an artist’s solo work and one from their group days…
How Should You Order the Songs in Your Playlist?
If you’ve gone to the trouble of choosing your top tunes, don’t leave them to the mercy of the shuffle button. You’ve selected these songs for a reason. So tell us a story by giving us a narrative structure.
Balance is key. Don’t put too many big hitters on at the beginning. Not everyone will be there yet, and people might be too awkward, sheepish, or sober to dance. Then it’s gone. You can’t play it again. It’s finished.
You do want to have a couple of belters to grab attention early on, though. Try to spread out the main attractions throughout to maintain momentum. Remember, like a big bird in the oven, it has to be cooked all the way through.
And once you’ve mastered your Spotify playlist, how strictly do you police it? Picture this: the music is on, the party is knee-deep, and all your guests have had a lot of… refreshments. That certain group of colleagues are pestering you for specific songs.
One song is one thing. But then you have to spend the rest of the night queueing and adding songs to your playlist. When do you get the chance to mingle and network? Are you tough and do you crack down on requests? That’s your decision, and we wish you luck with it.
So, why do we think we can start telling people how to make their playlists? Well, we’ve had lots of practice. The Spacehuntr team takes party playlists seriously.
Organising parties is part of what we do as an online booking platform for unique event spaces. And, we put a lot of stock in our own parties, of course.
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Now you know how to make a playlist. And to think, people actually get paid to do this!? Maybe you can use your music playlist as a new CV!
It’s a fun process, and a great experience to get lost in. So good luck with the curating, hope it’s a great party. But maybe it’s good to check out how much fun you can have. Luckily, we’ve got you covered there. Double-check just how drunk you can get at an office party.
Featured image: Retro DJ via atmosfeerconcept