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Create the perfect playlist for any occasion or mood

What’s the Idea?

A basic “How To” guide for creating playlists, with links to external examples.

What’s the story

As an out and proud music geek and as an event organiser, I’m very passionate about curating the right music, in the right order, for the right mood and situation.

I’ve technically been making playlists since childhood in the 80’s, only then the medium was known as “mixtapes”.

People should do this because…?

Music can trigger significant emotional responses, and bring back key memories, hence why it is used in therapy.  

Listening to a wide variety of different kinds of music can make you cry, make you grin like The Cheshire Cat, help you unleash some serious rage! 

Having this medium to help us express these emotions in a healthy way is so important and making playlists can be a very healing and cathartic experience.

How do you do it?

Making a playlist usually involves a simple drag-and-drop style of moving songs into the list. 

Start by making a blank list, then fill it with music you want to include.


  • Select a music program or app that allows you to create a playlist – for example, Spotify and iTunes make it easy;
  • Find music you might want to add to your playlist;
  • Some ways to do this are to type in the name of a song, band or artist you like, or to search for general music genres to find new music, or take a look at what your friends are listening to;
  • Make a playlist on the go – you can create playlists instantly on a mobile device, by selecting songs and adding them to the playlist in your chosen app.


There’s lots of ways you can choose music for a playlist – here are some ideas:

1. Start with a genre:
I suggest starting with your favourite music genre first and adding your favourite songs from a mixture of artists in that genre; eg: Rock Playlist, Pop Playlist, Funk & Soul Playlist.

2. Start with a theme:
Creating a playlist is a great way to tell a story or set a mood. Eg’s include:
 – Breakup Tracks
 – Work Tracks
 – Rage Tracks
 – Happy Tracks

3. Start with an occasion:
Think about what you’ll use the music for. Examples could include:
 – Working Out
 – Driving on a long journey
– Party Time
– Meditation

4. Be nostalgic:
Music can invoke memory like nothing else. Try making playlists that remind you of times past, or important people.  Examples include
– Summer 2000
– Ibiza Holiday 2005
– Glastonbury 2016
– University Classics
– Childhood Classics

5. Start with an audience in mind:
Make a list for a particular person, or curate the mix for a particular crowd’s taste.

6. Keep it focused:

Create a playlist which focuses on all the songs into a certain theme or era, examples include:

 – The Complete Beatles Playlist
 – Top 10 UK Tunes From 1999


  • Dump everything into one playlist to start with
    Put all the tracks you want in and don’t worry about the order until later.
  • Start with a hook.
    START WITH A BANG (aka a great song).
  • Include some highs and lows
    Vary the mood, tempo and tone to avoid it being repetitive and dull.
    However, a dance music/party playlist should almost always build upwards, and a Bedtime playlist go down.
  • Listen to the transitions
    Some songs end abruptly, whereas others gradually fade out or have codas. Try to make sure the tracks blend and make sense flowing into each other.
  • Test it out.
    Take your playlist to the appropriate place/scenario/occasion and play it! Does it do what it says on the tin?  Are others responding as you would have hoped?  If so, great!  If not, adjust accordingly.


  • You can rip CDs to make MP3 files for your playlist.
  • The length of the playlist is totally up to you.

Some apps like Spotify / YouTube will offer suggestions based on what you are already playing/compiling as you’re doing it.  

This helps you increase your pool of new tracks and remember ones you’d forgotten about.

Stuff you may need

  • A PC/Mac/Tablet/Smartphone
  • An app like Spotify, iTunes, or YouTube

Links to other articles on the web,,,,

Links to apps


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