Willoughby’s perfect playlist
Willoughby Thom | Monday, August 24, 2020
Last week I decided to ask my friends on Instagram if they wanted me to make them a playlist. This idea was born because of two things: boredom and the love of music. Honestly, I didn’t expect many people to respond. Perhaps a few close friends would reach out in support. To my surprise, I heard from people I haven’t spoken to in a very long time and people I didn’t know very well.
My first thought was, “How am I going to make a playlist for someone I don’t know very well?”
Unlike some people, I take the process of making playlists quite seriously. It’s like an extreme sport for me. It must be perfect. These thoughts are what prompted me to write this piece and my secrets for developing the perfect playlist for anyone in your life.
One of the most important things when making a playlist is making it feel personal while still staying true to your music taste. In other words, you don’t just want to make a playlist that is filled with songs the person already likes — because then they might as well have made their own — so it is vital that you remain true to yourself while still appealing to their tastes. With that said, consider these following points to ensure you and your audience are satisfied with their playlist.
Questions to consider and answers to listen to:
Who are you making the playlist for?
When you begin to develop your playlist, determine how well you know the person. I know it may sound insignificant, but it’s important to know who you are working for so you can craft a list that is personal to the listener. If you know the person very well, then it should be a pretty easy task; however, it is imperative that you provide your close friend with new music instead of slapping all of your favorite songs into one folder. Use the fact that you have a close relationship with the listener as an advantage because it will be easier to find music for them. On the other hand, if you don’t know the person very well, that’s okay! It may seem like an intimidating task, especially if you want to impress them, but you must use this to your advantage. It’s a blank canvas and the Spotify universe is your paintbrush.
What is their music taste?
This question, in my opinion, is the most important. As previously stated, you want to make sure it feels personal. Of course, people reached out to you to make them a playlist because they like your music taste, but it doesn’t mean that you should shove it down their throats. With that said, it’s essential to take their music taste into account and adapt your taste to fit theirs, although this does not mean you have to completely change who you are.
For example, I listen to ’80s new wave, punk rock and classic rock and my friend who commissioned a playlist from me is into folk, indie alternative and classic rock. In this case, we have one thing in common: classic rock. But what about folk and alternative? Since these are genres not in my rotation, I must interpret them in what I like to listen to. Provide your version of folk and alternative music! Give your listener new music and expand their listening range by providing them with an interpretation of their taste with something that appeals to yours.
How long should it be?
This is simple: no longer than an hour. Around 45 minutes seems to be the perfect length — I don’t know why, but it works.
Should I put it in order for my listener?
This is entirely up to you. Normally, I like to put my songs into a specific order for my listeners, but I have realized that most people just click “shuffle” and move on. So I would say don’t focus too much on the order, unless it’s a playlist made for the love of your life and you want to convey a message to them. Otherwise, focus on the music.
The finishing touches.
Obviously, the most important part is the music. To make the recipient of your playlist feel extra special, title your playlist something clever, write a little message and change the playlist picture.
Overall, have fun while making playlists for your pals and acquaintances. You’re curating a soundtrack for a moment of time in their life, so enjoy the experience and make it one-of-a-kind.
Here’s an example of a curated playlist I made for the Observer’s Editor-in-Chief, Maria Leontaras.