• August 2, 2009
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How To Make a Good iTunes Playlist

Some valuable points and important techniques to help you make that epic playlist!

iTunes playlists are important for so many occassions. They allow the host of any party to become a DJ for a night, make holiday memories, and help you finish that looming assignment. Yet, creating the perfect playlist is often a complicated event, which involves certain sacrifices in order to appease differing music tastes of your guests. This post will provide some important points to assist you on your way to becoming your home’s DJ.

Get Creative!

As a starting point, good iTunes playlists allow you to entertain guests with differing music tastes, while getting a chance to hear the stuff you like at the same time! So get creative, experiment and pick songs which you like; your guests know and like; and songs they havn’t heard, but you think they should like. Unless your friends all share a pretty similar, static music taste; take the time to compile lists with ranging, different artists, without focusing on one particular artist for too long. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? But wait, before getting too creative, there are certain boundaries that you should bear in mind.

The Event

Playlists should be guided by the event for which they are intended, and should aim to complement the occasion. Dinner parties deserve different playlists to dance parties, or 21st parties. The office calls for a different playlist to what is appropriate for the gym. So get thinking. What music would suit your dinner party on Friday night?

Pick a Central Theme

This is perhaps the most important consideration in making a really good playlist. Once you know what event you are making a playlist for, it is very important to choose a central theme. So for instance, your dinner party on Friday night may require something chilled, but cool enough to impress your friends. One theme which may complement this event, is an acid-jazz theme. The key element in the selection of any theme, is that you need to stick to it! Go ahead, get creative, but make sure that people remember your playlist as “that epic [insert theme name] playlist”. “Oh Wow, Sandy’s Acid Jazz playlist on Friday was awesome!” So make sure that most tracks on your playlist somehow relate to your central theme.

A Playlist For Any Occassion

Once you become aware of differing playlist needs for different events and themes, your next step is to get making them. Go wild, have a different playlist for different occasions. Make one for the drive to the office, your dinner party on friday night, your spinning class etc. Let your mind wonder and make sure to title each one appropriately. Remember to limit each playlist to a theme, but get as creative as possible within that theme.

Edit and Repeat

Make sure that you keep your playlists as fresh as possible and don’t be scared to delete/edit elements which havn’t been a success with your friends. Keep your playlists interesting for yourself and your friends. Finally, make sure not to repeat the same playlist every time a group of friends come over. There is nothing more annoying than being able to predict the track following the last, as a result of an overplayed playlist.

Stand Your Ground!

Try to avoid repeating tracks, skipping through a playlist and allowing requests. Let your playlist play from start to finish and don’t let anyone disturb it, not even yourself. Hell, if your playlist is really not working, then move onto a different playlist. The aim of a playlist is to complement a certain theme and event; not act as a request list which people argue over.

Is Your Playlist Smart?

When it comes to the process of actually making a playlist, iTunes offers 2 options. A normal playlist and a smart playlist.

Normal playlists are static playlists which require the manual addition of each track you want to listen to. Smart playlists on the other hand, involve the setting of parameters in the creation of a ‘smart’ playlist, which has the ability to automatically update itself amongst other things.

The following example will teach you how to make a Top 100 smart iTunes playlist.

1. So you like the Top 25 playlist, but there just are not enough tracks to keep you interested? No problem, let’s create a Top 100 playlist. Start by clicking on ‘File’ and select the option ‘New Smart Playlist’.

2. Once this option has been selected, you will be presented with a box which defines certain parameters and queries.

3. Begin my making sure that “Match the following rule” is checked. Then in the first down arrow field box on the left, select “Play Count”.

4. In the down arrow field box just to the right of the one mentioned in point 3, select the option “is greater than”.

5. In the field box just to the right of the 4th step in this example, type in the number “0”.

6. Now, moving down to the next line, make sure that “Limit to” is checked, and fill in the number “100”.

7. In the down arrow field box just to the right of it, which is preceded by “selected by”, make sure to select “most often played”.

8. Finally, make sure that “Live Updating” is checked.

Now you have an automatically updating Top 100 playlist. :) Remember to give it a decent title. ;)


With the ability to create ‘Smart’ playlists and ‘normal’ playlists, make sure to experiment thoroughly until you have a playlist that suits every occassion!

I hope you found this post helpful. Have you made any decent iTunes playlists which have been the talk of the town? Drop a comment and let me know about it. :)

Written by Bret Dugmore

Bret is MusicReview's founder and editor. He has an eclectic taste in music, but has a particular soft spot for prog rock, punk and alternative. When not listening to music or working, you will most likely find him on his PS3 or cooking.