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How to make the perfect playlist

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Anyone can create a playlist, but it takes time and practice to make a good one. Photo: Garett Mizunaka, Unsplash

It is difficult to imagine a situation that not be enhanced by a well-made playlist. With more than 4 billion user-created playlists on Spotify and others on Apple Music, YouTube and other music streaming platforms, chances are you’ll find one for any occasion. There is one to be in an abandoned church during a zombie apocalypse, for example, and another for songs that explicitly mention peanut butter.

But no one really knows you like you do, and there’s a unique joy to listening to and sharing music that you put together. Listen, if you’ve ever played songs in an album in a different order, added songs to a queue, or jumped into someone else’s playlist, you might find that creating your own playlists worth reading.

Whether a playlist is “good” or “bad” is very subjective. It depends on who is listening and what the playlist is supposed to accomplish. Do you want to create a certain mood (energetic, relaxed or sexy, for example) for an extended period of time, or do you want to take listeners into a focused and organized mood journey of different sounds and emotions?

To find out how to create the perfect playlist for any situation, VICE asked a record label founder, a DJ and music producer, and a seasoned playlist maker for his top tips for creating watch-worthy playlists. downloaded and without skips.

Start somewhere, anywhere!

You can create a playlist for absolutely anything: a sentiment, a special occasion or a daily habit, a time of day, a genre. Even just having a few songs that you think could make a good playlist is reason enough to create this playlist.

“Most of my playlists are based on moods, or I create [playlists] once I realize I have a handful of songs that fit together for some reason,” said Carlos WestOccasional DJ and co-founder of a Sydney-based label neon discs.

West has over 200 playlists between Spotify and Apple Music. Some are for things like sleeping, smoking weed, exercising, or having sex. Others are organized by genre, such as Afro-Electronica, Latin, Classic Dance, and Jazz.

Manila-based graphic designer Anya Benedictowhose most popular playlist on Spotify is a mix of classic house tracks from the late 90s to early 2000s, also starts its playlists with a specific vibe in mind.

“It will be a feeling, or almost a scene from a movie that I want to experience,” Benedicto said. “Ultimately, I treat my playlists as ‘thematic or helpful lists’ that are meant to nurture different moods and situations.”

Abdelaziza DJ and music producer also based in Manila, said he normally draws inspiration from his playlists.

“Usually my playlists are inspired by places I have visited or [I’m] about to visit,” Aziz said, adding that the playlists serve as his personal soundtrack for those places.

Discover daily

Depending on who you ask, there could be anywhere more 25 millions at over 200 million songs in the world. There are also around 60,000 new songs downloaded from Spotify every day.

The vast amount of music makes it both easy and difficult to find the perfect songs for the playlists you create.

Sure, some good songs will come your way, if only because they’re so good that most people know them. But for Aziz, a good playlist isn’t just about popular or new songs, it’s also about lyrically or melodically engaging songs, whether or not they’re current or well-known. That means digging into the ever-expanding global music library.

To find new music, West said he searches the charts on Shazam, Beatport and iTunes, as well as other playlists. Benedicto uses Spotify’s radio, broadcast radar and playlist suggestions, as well as in-store playlists from various brands and recommendations from friends.

Have a “keeper” playlist

According to West, you don’t need to immediately decide if a song fits into a playlist.

“Whenever I find a song that I like, for whatever reason, I add it to a playlist that I called ‘At The Moment’, which is like the Guardians list and [which] I listen almost daily. If I really like a song after hearing it multiple times on this list, I add it to my more permanent playlists, based on where it sounds,” West said.

That doesn’t mean you always have to add a good song to a playlist, though.

“You have to be a little rough with your selection,” West said. “If it’s a good song but it doesn’t fit the theme of the playlist, cut it or create a new playlist.”

Ask yourself: To mix or not to mix?

For Aziz, playlists should encourage “a state of playful emotion”. To achieve this, he prefers to create playlists where the order of the songs matters. It rarely plays songs in shuffle mode, he said.

“My first three songs are always crucial. They set the tone for my roster,” Aziz said, adding that he usually opts for slow-building songs as intros to his playlists.

West, on the other hand, listens to most of his playlists in shuffle mode and doesn’t pay too much attention to song order.

“Most of my playlists are organized by date added, with the newest songs at the top. This also shows subscribers that the playlist is regularly updated,” West said.

Again, whether your playlist should be random or not depends on your goal. Benedicto said party playlists should be all about flow and transitions, so song order matters. But it also has playlists that can be shuffled without spoiling the experience, as the songs have consistent beats and beats.


No playlist is ever truly finished, West said. He is always tweaking them.

“I always like to go back and revise my playlists from time to time to see if they can be more concise, more relevant and to check that the songs haven’t been dated since I added them,” he said. -he declares.

A good rule of thumb, according to West, is “all killer, no filler.” This means that each track should do what the playlist intends to do and fit in with the other tracks as well. No extreme swings in mood, style, overall energy or if you want to get technical, beats per minute.

Encourage a reminder

You’ll probably never get absolutely every song that could work in your playlist, and that’s okay. Aziz said a good playlist is ultimately the one that “isn’t enough”.

“When [a playlist] it’s not enough, we want more,” the DJ said. “It’s good to keep listeners suspended at some point, just to keep them engaged and thinking, ‘What could be the next best song to add? ?'”

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