How to Make an Awesome Music Playlist

Three Parts:Choosing a ProgramChoosing MusicGetting Organized

Whether you want to take over DJ duties at your next party or create a good mix to listen to while you work out, there are a few tricks of the playlist trade. Learning to choose the right program, get organized, and match the style of music to the theme will have you rocking out in style.

Part 1
Choosing a Program

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    Select a music program that allows you to create a playlist. Making a playlist will depend on what software you're using to play music, whether online, on a mobile device, or on your computer. Making a playlist usually involves a simple drag-and-drop style of moving songs into the list, or you can select individual song files, right-click, and send them to the list. Start by making a blank list, then filling it with music you might like to include in a playlist to learn how it works.
    • Programs like Spotify and iTunes make creating playlists an easy and almost essential part of the music-listening experience. Project Playlist, Take 40, Windows Media Player, Grooveshark are also all good programs for managing your music.
    • Pandora and other Internet radio stations let you create channels, but not specific playlists of songs.
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    Upload music to work with. Get music by typing the name of any song, band or artist you like. You can also search just general types of music or artists to find new music or check out what your friends or other users on the site are listening to.
    • If you're using iTunes, you can either select music that's already in your library, which you own, or you can search the store and download any song you find for a price.
    • If you've got iTunes, but no music, you can also upload your CDs into iTunes to "rip" the music directly. Going to the public library and loading the music into your iTunes library can be a great way of acquiring songs to make playlists on the cheap.
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    Make a playlist on the go. Mobile devices also allow you to create playlists instantaneously, by selecting songs and sending them to a playlist, or selecting "Play next," making you an instant DJ. You don't need to make playlists ahead of time, you just need to go with the flow.

Part 2
Choosing Music

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    Start with a genre. Start with your favorite music genre first and add your favorite songs from a mixture of artists in that genre. The ultimate hip-hop playlist, classic rock playlist, and baroque classical playlist are all great ways of organizing your tunes.
    • Equally great is to pick a single artist to start with. If you've got all the records Bob Dylan ever recorded, that's a lot of tunes to sift through. Pick your 50 favorite songs from his career and organize them into a playlist of the greats.
    • Alternatively, while it might make sense to stick to one genre, you don't have to. Try jumping all over the place. Throw some prog-jazz or some classical-folk-gothic fusion into the mix. Why not? There are no rules except what sounds good to you.
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    Start with a theme. Playlists offer you a great opportunity to be like a curator at a museum, or like a DJ who tells a story with songs. Pick a mood, theme, or idea from which to organize your playlist. Make a playlist made of songs that all have "black" in the title, or a playlist of only love songs. Be creative. Some possibilities might include:
    • Break-up songs
    • Monday morning songs
    • Working songs
    • Headphone songs
    • Aggressive songs
    • Trippy songs
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    Start with an occasion. Another great way of creating a playlist is thinking about what you'll use the music for. Most music fans will want to listen to very different types of music at the gym, on a date, and when you're trying to relax at night. Create playlists and pick music that will fit each occasion. Some good occasion playlists might be:
    • Working out
    • Driving to work
    • Summer barbecue
    • Dance party
    • Meditation or relaxation
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    Be nostalgic. Try making a playlist in which you pick songs you listened to during your Freshman year, or that you remember hearing on the radio when you were a kid. Make a playlist of songs you always remember your dad listening to, or songs you remember hearing on your way to after-school sports practice. Pick the songs that remind you of your best friend. Making a playlist is a great way of staying in touch with the past.
    • Try to tell a story with your playlist. How might you sum up your entirely middle school experience in ten songs? Give it a shot.
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    Start with an audience. Many an awkward teenager has successfully wooed a date with a tastefully curated mix of love songs, and many an amateur DJ has packed the dancefloor with a properly selected group of dance jams. Consider the points of reference, the tastes, and the opinions of the people who'll be listening to the playlist, if anyone. If it's for you, just worry about what you like!
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    Be a good organizer. Organize playlists around getting all the songs into a certain theme or era. For instance, you might create a playlist of the Top 100 Billboard songs from 1967, or a playlist of the complete Beatles songs. If you want, you could make a huge playlist of all the records that are on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Or make you own countdown list for fun.

Part 3
Getting Organized

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    Dump everything into one playlist. The great thing about most apps and websites is that you can put the songs on shuffle, edit your playlist and add new music even when you're done, so you don't have to worry about the order yet. Nothing is set in stone, like on a CD or a mixtape. Start dumping all the songs you're considering including on the playlist in and worry about sorting them out later.
    • Alternatively, you could go with the mixtape approach, and go one song at a time, carefully selecting the movement of the playlist. This is especially good for dance mixes of headphones mixes.
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    Start with a hook. Whatever your theme, genre, or taste, one thing about playlists is universal: it's got to start with a great song. Lead off with a song that'll hook everyone who'll listen, or will kick off your personal favorites playlist with a bang.[1]
    • Alternatively, maybe the order of the songs is predetermined (as in a countdown playlist) or maybe you're just not interested in a carefully selected order for the songs. Consider randomizing the order by hitting shuffle, or by tossing the songs in alphabetically for easy access. This tends to be easier for very long playlists.
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    Include some highs and lows. In most cases, you'll want an awesome playlist to vary the mood, the tempo, and the tones in the music somewhat, or else it'll get repetitive and dull. Even if you're making a Best of Black Metal playlist, try to throw some more atmospheric headbangers in there, or it'll be hard to follow.
    • Alternatively, a party playlist should probably only go up, so start with a banger and progressively get rowdier. Likewise, a go-to-sleep playlist should stay relatively sedate. Let it fade off into white noise or silence at the ending.
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    Listen to the transitions. Some songs have abrupt endings while others will have gradual fade-outs or codas. Some rock songs end with long blasts of feedback, while other songs will Listen to how each song transitions into the next.
    • Avoid aural schizophrenia. It's nice to have some variety, but going straight from Slayer to Simon and Garfunkel will sound strange. It's your playlist, but try to make the order relatively smooth. Slayer to Led Zeppelin's "Since I've Been Loving You" to Simon and Garfunkel? That's more like it.
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    Test it out. You can put your playlist on your phone, iPod, CD or any other portable music device like a flash drive and take it out with you on a run, or to the gym, or to the party where you want to dance and try it out. Delete songs that don't work and add songs that enhance the experience that you're soundtracking. If that Cat Stevens song wasn't as relaxing as you wanted it to be, delete it and go softer. It's easy to make changes.


  • Also, you can rip CDs to make MP3 files for your playlist.
  • The length of the playlists is up to you, and preferably your own style and choice.
  • You can make quick playlists including 10 songs or you can make long playlists including up to 300+ songs.

Article Info

Categories: Music Listening and Appreciation