5 Simple Steps for Building Someone the Perfect Playlist
Hand-picking songs to make a playlist for someone you care about can be a very special thing.
Of course, it can also be a big project. Where should you even start? If you're feeling intimidated by the idea of building someone the perfect playlist, we have some tips to guide you along every step of the way.
Keep reading for our best guidance!
Pick a Theme
Building any playlist begins with understanding its purpose and creating a theme for it. First, who is the playlist for? The songs you pick are going to be very different if you're crafting a pump-up playlist to get someone through their daily routines, or a romantic playlist to help you confess your love for someone. Next, you want to map out the feeling of the list. Maybe it's a chill playlist, or a moody one, or one that's uplifting. Lastly, you'll want to consider whether you'll be sticking to a specific genre, or period of music—or maybe you want your playlist to be a journey through time and space. Also, understand what the length of your playlist is going to be. Will it just be a few songs to get them through a special day, or do you want to build an epic 100-song list they'll never tire of? Once you've set the tone and know what your playlist is really for, the following steps become a lot easier.
Know Your Audience
Even though you're the one crafting the playlist, the person it's for will guide every decision you make going into it. It may sound obvious, but you should start by packing it with the artists they love and the genres they listen to most. Begin the process with the easy stuff—the songs that jump to mind when you think of this person, given the theme you're going for—and build around that. If it seems like you're using too much of one style at first, don't be afraid to keep going, because you can always trim it back later. Try incorporating some personal songs that mean something between the two of you, but also take a chance and pepper in the occasional song that they might not know already but seems right up their alley.
From there, let your intuition guide our song choices. As a song ends, listen to your heart about what track might be its perfect follow-up. Think about other songs that might have similar topics, or a beat or instrumental part or lyric that complements what you've just heard. If you're feeling a little cheesy, don't be afraid to throw in a song that's part of an inside joke if it's meaningful to you and you can make it work in the context of the playlist.
Pay Attention to Flow
When it comes to creating the ultimate playlist, the last thing you want to do is put a big list of songs on shuffle and call it a day. From start to finish, you want to tell one coherent story with your playlist. Kick it off with something that'll pull them right in and set the right tone, do what you need to do in the middle and then end it on something that's just as memorable as its start. Typically, you'll want to have a diverse playlist, so that every track doesn't sound exactly the same, but you don't want the playlist to be jarring, either. Listen to the way songs transition into one another and see how they flow. That way, even if the song's moods, tempos and beats are all over the place, they'll still feel totally cohesive and work as one.
Perhaps you can follow up a particularly intense track with a couple of slower ones to chill things out, or break up quiet and moody songs with something that'll lift you back up. Sprinkle it with surefire tracks that you know your friend will love at regular intervals so that, if you have any missteps and lose them along the way, you'll have them back into it again in no time.
Listen to It—Repeatedly
Once you've dropped all of the tracks into your playlist, consider that your rough draft. It likely won't come out perfect the first time, and that's okay. Your playlist will get there with editing, but you can't edit it unless you actually sit down and listen to it the way you intended it to be heard. Actually hearing each song back-to-back will help you understand what really fits where, what doesn't work and needs to be moved, and what songs can be substituted to better suit the space you just created.
You might discover that a song simply doesn't fit in with the rest of the playlist because of its tone or length, and you should feel free to cut out the stuff that doesn't belong. Feeling iffy about something? Chop it. Even if the song is precious to you, it doesn't necessarily need to be on this playlist. After all, you can always make them another. Once you think you're done, listen all over again. It can take some time, so be patient with the process, and you'll get there.
Have Fun With It
At the end of the day, sticking with the rules is far less important than enjoying the process and making something you know that you will both love. After all, a playlist is about expressing yourself and putting together great songs for your enjoyment, and it doesn't have to be a flawless masterpiece to achieve those things. Have fun with it, and learn more every time you create a new playlist, and you'll be an expert in no time.
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