The Ultimate Guide to Making Great Playlists

Kieron Donoghue,  the founder of this wonderful website, shares some of his top tips on how to make a truly great playlist. Perfect for beginners, artists and even seasoned pros – it’s never a bad idea to revisit the basics.

1. Be Creative

Playlisting has been around since the 1970s (think C60 mixtape or ask your parents if that’s lost on you), so if you’re thinking of curating a “100 Brilliant Britpop Songs” playlist then chances are it’s been done before - in fact it has. Instead think a little outside the box and get creative, some recent playlists that caught my eye include #Yonce’s Flawless Pool Party, Music For Future TV Adverts, Fresh Electro Guys and of course Patrick Bateman’s American Psycho Walkman Mix.

 2. It’s All In The Name

Nobody wants to listen to a playlist called “random” or “my faves.” Remember that mainly thanks to Buzzfeed we live in a culture of lists, so “100 Most Uplifting Songs Ever” will get more listens than say, “Happy Songs.” Don’t be afraid to make bold statements too. With over a billion playlists on Spotify it’s all about grabbing the headlines. So think “The World’s Most Perfect Pop Songs” instead of “Best Pop Songs.”

3. How Many Songs?

Not too few and not too many. We’re past the age of the CD so 10 tracks isn’t going to cut it anymore. Likewise, some curation is needed so don’t just dump all of your favourite tracks into a gigantic 10,000 song playlist. Instead think of the old days of the double compilation CD and aim for between 30 to 50. Somewhere in there is the magic number.

4. Artwork

Your playlist needs to stand out from the crowd and shout “hey, listen to *ME*” so make your artwork snazzy and meaningful. For inspiration just look at the homepage of Playlists.net where we feature playlists with high quality artwork only (minimum 500 x 500px)

Plus if your artwork is as good as you’re playlist you’ll likely end up being featured as the main playlist on our Playlist a Day app too (where you’ll find a ton of new followers and increased playlist exposure). Not bad eh?

5. The One Song Per Artist Rule

Exactly what it means, don’t be that guy who dumps a whole album from one artist into a playlist. No one likes that guy.

6. I’m An Artist, How Will Playlists Help Me?

The best way to use Spotify to your advantage is to grow a user base of fans to your playlist. Take the mighty Alt-J for example who have put together this Hunger Of The Pine playlist. The idea is that by getting your fans to subscribe to your playlist then you can gain an instant audience whenever you add new music to it. So Alt-J are directing their fans to subscribe to their playlist and as soon as their new music appears on Spotify, it will be instantly added. The benefits of this are that their users will get a notification the instant the playlist is updated telling them to check it out. No more waiting for people to actively look for you on Spotify, they’ll be notified just as soon as you drop a new track in. Imagine if you grow your playlist to 100,000, 500,000 or even 1m followers. That’s a huge audience who will be streaming your new releases.

7. How Many Streams Will I Get?

Of course this depends on how good your song is and how many followers a playlist has. I know of some examples where individual playlists can generate around 100,000 streams per week per song. Yes, 100,000 streams a week from just one popular playlist.

8. Playlists Are The New Radio

Now that Spotify streams count towards the official singles chart, playlists are more important than ever. We’re already seeing that the most proactive and creative artists are getting in touch with us, asking to be included in our playlists. We’re always happy to engage with artists and will do our best to help out.

9. How Often Should I Update My Playlist?

As a very general rule, no more than once a week and certainly no less than once a month. The idea is to keep the playlist fresh and to encourage users to come back and listen more. So keep it updated and give your audience a reason to keep listening.

10. Sharing Is Caring

It’s all well and good curating a killer playlist, but if nobody listens to it then you did all that good work for nothing. So use social media and of course Playlists.net to reach a wider audience. Playlists.net has been online for over 5 years and has around 1 million users a month from around the world specifically looking for awesome playlists. Best of all it’s free to submit a playlist, so what are you waiting for?