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How to Create a Party Playlist [How To …]

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on November 21, 2010


At some point in time, a true music aficionado will be asked to make a party playlist. Heck, even rookies or non-knowers may be assigned the task. While this may seem like a burden, it’s one particular job that shouldn’t be hard, but should be fun! And think of it this way: there’s a lot of responsibility attached to being in charge of the music. Feel honored because it is, after all, the single most important factor besides the guests in setting the mood for any function.

Follow these steps to craft the perfect soundtrack that will make the music the life of the party.

1. Get as Much Info as You Can About the Party: Ideally, this information should come from the host. Talk to them about their plans for the party. Is it on a schedule? What activities will take place? Will guests be inside, outside or both? Where will the majority of the partiers congregate? When will they arrive? Is dancing a part of the itinerary? All of these questions will help you determine when to play certain music or determine if it will just be background noise.

2. Get as Much Info as You Can About the Guests: This is perhaps the most important research one can do when creating a playlist. A compilation of the hottest songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 will do you no good if all of the guests are into death metal. If you’re not familiar with a majority of the people invited to a party, ask the host about the attendees. Even if you do know who’s coming, ask them specifically what they want to hear. Reminisce and remember if there are any songs the group collectively has good memories of. Take into consideration the purpose of the party: is it to socialize? Dance? Both? Also take into consideration factors that may influence attendees likes and dislikes, such as regional preferences, education level, race and age. Now, we’re not fans of stereotyping, so tread lightly in this area, but recognize that these could indicate how familiar guests will be with and how open they’ll be to certain styles. Just be careful not to assume too much or to offend.

3. Experiment with Your Sound System: Ever shown up to a party with your carefully crafted playlist on an iPod, only to discover that the host’s sound system is a 5-disc CD changer? Talk to him or her ahead of time to find out what the sound will project through. If you’re not sure, bring backup in the form of burned CDs or a flash drive full of tunes. If time permits, check out the location in advance to test things out, as well as determine how loud the audio will project.

4. Check Out the Charts and Online Stores: Filling out a playlist can be tough, especially if your roster of recent hits or a specific genre is limited. Visit Billboard.com and click under “Charts” to see what’s hot in a number of different styles, including on the Hot 100, which compiles the top hits each week. Also check out iTunes and Amazon to see what recommendations are made for songs and albums that you already own. Naturally, these are often similar in sound to what you already have and make relatively good download-purchase ideas that will spice up a stale set.

5. Throw in a Few Obscurities: Sticking with familiar hits is the snooze-worthy safe route. We recommend tossing in a few non-radio album tracks from currently popular artists, songs that folks forgot about and a little bit of old-school to keep the music interesting. Hardcore aficionados will thank you.

6. Focus On the Flow: It’s easy to set a vibe by playing back-to-back songs that sound the same or are performed by a single artists, but this is also the easiest way to kill a party’s mood. People like a variety. Find a balance that creates a natural flow from one artist or one genre to the next. Thanks to popular music’s many crossover artists, there are plenty of “transition” songs that can take you back-and-forth between styles, but we discourage EVER playing any song more than once!

Good luck building the foundation of your party’s fun!

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