How to create the perfect playlist

Before we begin, this article is not for those who find solace in the underwhelming, unrefined world that is Apple Music. This article is solely for those who are well-versed in the world of Discover Weekly, Year in Reviews, and the glory of Daily Mixes that can be found in the stupendous world of Spotify. 

STEP ONE: Dabble

The only way to understand what direction you want your playlist to go is to listen to all music. All the time. I mean all genres, all artists. Listen to your discover weekly playlist, even if the first two songs suck. Many of the songs on my Top Songs playlist from 2020 came seemingly out of the woodwork, mostly from Discover Weekly or an out-of-place addition to my Daily Mix. 


Once you’ve done your research, there should have been at least one or two songs that stood out from the mix. If their sounds mesh? Beautiful! You’re well on your way to an established track for your playlist. If not? Don’t fret. Just choose one of the songs that stood out to you, and run with it as the leader of your new creation. 


One of the most iconic ingredients of Spotify is the “radio” feature. Once you’ve found even a single song that fits the sound you’re going for, it’s smooth sailing from there. A simple right click on the song you’ve chosen will take you to a treasure trove from which you can pick and choose as you please. From here, the playlist can grow tenfold in just a few minutes when you’re reminded of anthems you forgot existed and realize they most definitely deserve a spot on the list. 

STEP FOUR: Organize

Playlist order is a widely disputed topic among music enthusiasts. It is wise to tread lightly around this issue, as some people approach a kind of militancy about the order of their playlists. I get it—if I spent hours organizing songs in a way that took listeners through an intentional tunnel of feelings and sounds, the shuffle button would inevitably feel like a punch in the gut. In my own experience (which I know is controversial, and, as some might say, “lazy”), playlists are much less stressful when made free of the constraints of lineality. 


This is the part of the journey where things get crazy. If you thought there were an overwhelming number of choices while choosing songs, you might need to take a breather when you realize that the name of your playlist has permission to defy all boundaries known to humankind. While the name of the playlist does indeed make or break its level of success… take the pressure off of yourself! If you’ve come this far and still feel good about your selections, keep hope in your taste for just one more step of the process. Remember to keep things interesting, and go with your instincts. Don’t make it too obvious—you want the name to draw listeners in, simultaneously preparing them for the masterpiece they’re about to encounter. Keep in mind that your boundaries are nonexistent; realizing that emojis or simply a combination of random characters on my keyboard could be sufficient was a game changer. 

STEP SIX: Repeat
Now you’ve got the system down. As you’ll find out soon enough, one playlist (or even 20) is not sufficient to fit each day’s unique music needs. Make as many as you see fit, but don’t delete them once they’ve served their purpose. Playlists can serve as a kind of time machine—in the future this list of songs may transport you right back to the day you read this illuminating article and finally felt equipped to take control of your listening.

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