Whether you spend the majority of your time on Spotify, Apple Music or SoundCloud, chances are you've made a playlist before.
However, despite how easy it may be to just put a bunch of songs together on a permanent queue list, it takes a little more effort, time, and dedication to make something that's truly spectacular. While it is sometimes simply relaxing to just put a dozen or so songs together for a day trip to the beach it's even more satisfying to take a bit more time and procure and discriminate as to what songs make their way onto that short list so that you can encapsulate the moment and make that trip even just a little bit better.
I myself use Spotify daily and with over 50 playlists and growing I've established a pretty substantial set of guidelines and suggestions that I feel are simple enough to be used by any and everyone. These guidelines are just that though, they aren't set rules and they can and will vary depending on the person and their tastes.
That being said, one of the most important facets of playlist making is trying to center your songs around some kind of theme. This theme can really be anything so long as its specific and you make sure you keep some level of objectivity when selecting the songs based on a specificity of your choosing.
For example, if I decided I was going to make a 90s playlist with songs like Everlong by Foo Fighters and Shine by Collective Soul for no reason should September by Earth, Wind & Fire be the next song up. Similarly, if I was making a playlist with a focus on heavy, driving bass a song like Fields of Gold by Sting would just be out of place amongst songs like Bounce Back by Big Sean or Nobody's Perfect by J. Cole.
When I say a theme can be anything as long as it's specific I really mean anything. You could make a playlist completely comprised of songs that have underlying tones of social anarchy or, if you'd like to take a less political stance, simply focus on songs that feature the triangle. The options are virtually endless so long as you use your imagination.
Part of being able to cultivate your imagination to create new ideas for playlists comes from expanding your music library. The only way to create fresh and exciting playlists is to constantly be looking for new music and listening to tunes you've never heard before.
If, like me, you happen to be partial to Spotify, the streaming service plays host to excellently curated weekly playlists based on whatever you've listened to the week prior. These playlists, as well as other similar services on SoundCloud and Apple Music, are a great way to expand and broaden your musical intake and can help spark ideas for new playlists.
One problem I've seen various people get stuck on is the length of their playlists. The short answer is that it doesn't and shouldn't matter. A playlist is something you should have fun with and unless for some reason you absolutely have to fill a specific time slot for your high school's winter dance with "popular" music there is no need to worry.
It's just as O.K. to have 7 songs in a playlist as it is 400. Also, don't think that playlists are set in stone once they've been created. In fact, you should frequently go back and look at your playlists and take out things that don't fit and add things that do. Sometimes it's not evident the first listen whether a song does or doesn't exactly fit with the others in the playlist and that's totally O.K. If you don't think a song fits in any of your playlists then just start a new one.
Really, making playlists is incredibly simple. Most people just don't have the time to sit down and procure something that exactly fits their specificities. However, if you do ever find yourself with some downtime consider instead using these guidelines to make your own, best playlist and I'm sure you won't regret it.
If you'd like to take a look at what these guidelines and suggestions sound like in practice feel free to follow my Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/1217262430