Playlist Perfection: Tips to Curating Balanced Playlists

I have a problem with Spotify. I can get sidetracked in musical exploration for embarrassingly long amounts of time. For some reason today, while knee deep in one of these expeditions and curating a few new sets of songs, I thought I might share my personal guidelines for the ever so serious business of listening to music. Leave me your playlist opinions below!

  • Don’t use Spotify suggestions: it’s like using Wikipedia as a reference in a research paper. It’s a great place to start expanding, but if your list is all Spotify suggestions there’s nothing special about it.
  • Be adventurous: the best way to make better playlists is to be in a constant expansion of your musical library. Listen to other people’s playlists; binge on new artists; explore Spotify’s genres or Pandora’s radios, etc. Ask friends for recommendations and enjoy the tune-foraging.
  • Don’t double-dip: so you’ve got three love song playlists? You’re either very creative, very good at curating, or you’ve got three playlists that overlap by 80%. Dude. They better be exclusive playlists. It doesn’t count as three playlists if they’re primarily the same songs on all three. I get that Don’t Stop Believin’ is your all time favorite song (#basic) but give it a home and then don’t spread it around like a disease.
  • Go weird every once in a while: create a playlist that isn’t intuitive. It makes sense to have a playlist of good music to swing to, but what about a playlist of songs that have been your favorite in the past five years in chronological order? Or what about a playlist containing only songs with the word “cold” in them? Could be jarring and obnoxious, but it also could be challenging and fresh.
  • Don’t be afraid to share: if you did a good job, put that baby on the interwebs. Chances are somebody needs that collection as much as you do.
  • Curate your moods: this is my favorite kind of playlist. I pretty much have a playlist for all the major integers on the emotional spectrum. Mad? Here, angry drive to this playlist. Sad? Ball your eyes out to this, baby. Lovey-dovey? Soak in your disgusting young love with these forty-one songs. Etc.
  • Don’t overload artists: so you want a playlist of the best. heavy metal songs, but you don’t know how to get started so you grab every single song by Black Sabbath and toss singles in there as time goes on. Look, you’ll never listen to that playlist. Unless it’s a massive playlist, you’ll get bored of those two or three artists that you dumped in there. The life and enjoyment of the collection will be much higher if you can shuffle it and hear different artists. Also, in my experience, grabbing a whole album and adding it to a playlist of one-offs will not only throw the list out of balance but I can almost guarantee that not all the songs on that album will fit with the singles. (There are exceptions, especially with albums that are gold from start to finish. Use your best judgement.)
  • Put your heart in it: the best way to make the perfect mix is to care. Add the songs that strike you. That’s gold.
  • Don’t overthink it: alright, I just gave you an impossible codex of playlist laws, but ignore them all and go have fun. Crap playlists have their purpose, too. Don’t be afraid to create a playlist that you only listen to once. You can always delete it later. Listen to what you want to listen to. Not all mixes have to be stellar.

Thanks for enabling by music addiction by reading this blog post. Take it a step further and leave me a comment below.



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