How to make a great playlist

I’ve learned in the last year or two that I really enjoy putting together music playlists. It started when I regularly played pick-up volleyball here in Nashville. There was often music as the backdrop, provided by some random person who was also there to play.

I began thinking about what songs I’d add to a playlist so I worked on it. Besides falling in love with Spotify, I eventually came up with a playlist that I thought was worthy to share on one of those volleyball nights.

Now, I will share with you tiny nuggets of advice I’ve learned since then.

  1. You aren’t just picking songs you like, you are choosing music that creates an atmosphere.

Think about all the folks that will be hearing the music. What might they like? What is the event? Obviously, if you’re making a playlist for sports, it’s going to be different than a playlist for a funeral, a wedding, Sunday mornings, etc. Pick songs that fit the environment. That’s the most critical part of all of this.

2. Think about beats per minute.

This isn’t always necessary but if you’re coming up with a “hype” playlist, say for a pre-game football warm-up, you’re not going to be playing Jack Johnson music. You’ll want something that has a good drum beat, rocking guitar, or lots of bass. Rap music works really well in this situation, just also be aware of the lyrics as most of them are “explicit” these days. Another example is a playlist I have for running. I’ve learned that there are certain songs that help me run faster, and there are some that do nothing for me. The higher beats per minute, the more motivated I am to run faster. I have a post about that here. Back to Jack Johnson, if you’re putting together music for sand volleyball, he definitely is someone to check out for the laid back beachy vibe.

3. If you have a chance, ask people for a few songs they like.

This is easy to do if you’re part of an organized team. Just check in with your teammates on what songs they like, what songs get them pumped. You can add those songs as well as other songs you’ve discovered that fit the environment of the event.

4. Most of the time, lyrics are secondary.

Especially for something like pick-up volleyball, softball, mostly any sport actually, you won’t want to use songs where it’s important to listen to the lyrics. The sport being played is the #1 focus, so anything that distracts from that (trying to listen to lyrics) is counterproductive. That’s a no-no. With all that said, it is totally OK to have a theme! If you’re school or team is the Tigers, for instance, it might be fun to include songs that fit with a tiger, “Eye of the Tiger,” is an easy example.

Putting together playlists is so fun. I love doing it. If you are into it too, just be sure to have fun! Definitely include music you like because chances are other people like the music you like. Just remember to think about the playlist in terms of the listener, not just yourself.

Do you have any additional points we can add to this list? Chime in with a comment below. Thanks for stopping by!

-Out of the Wilderness

Published by Ben Wilder

Since 2005, I've called Nashville home. I'm the leader of the pack, which includes an 13-year-old beagle and an 11-year-old blue heeler mix. My days include writing, video editing, and other fun activities. Thanks for checking out my blog, I hope you enjoy it!

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