How to Make the Perfect Spotify Playlist

If you’re gonna express yourself through a playlist, make it good.


The creative process of developing a Spotify playlist requires extreme diligence and the utmost respect. As you can infer from my tone, I do not take this matter lightly. Music is the universal medium of emotional expression, and what better way to organize it than through an immaculate playlist? Fortunately for you, dear reader, I am a qualified expert on the subject. Allow me to take you under my wing and show you how I create my playlists.

Acknowledge and understand your feelings.

All music playlists stem from an oddly specific mood/emotion/memory. Whether they be inspired by the grogginess that follows a long nap, the sadness that pairs with the departure of a beloved pet, or the happiness spurred from partying with friends, every playlist indicates an emotional sensation. Thus, the first step in this process is to understand how you’re feeling, or what feeling you aim to express with music. For example, my playlist “10th st” (shameless self-promotion), reflects the exact mood that I typically have when en route to Folly Beach, hence the title, which is a reference to a street on the island. Featuring upbeat rock, indie alternative, and several Elton John songs, this compilation accurately conveys my mood, making it my go-to playlist for a majority of my summer.

Create a title. This step has a tendency to be quite frustrating and tricky. My personal method for naming my playlists is to focus on either 1) an inside joke/phrase or 2) a subtle innuendo with hidden meaning. My playlist, “oyster & pearl”, refers to the phrase “the world is your oyster and you are the pearl”, subsequently indicating that the playlist illustrates my personal feeling of success and optimism. Another example would be “crack my back” — a nod to a former schoolmate that would always crack my back for me. Shoutout to them.

Choose between fast or slow tempo.

Once you have chosen the exact feeling you wish to express, it is time to visualize the music genres you wish to use. If you’re feeling sad, I would highly recommend slow songs deprived of energy, just like you. Conversely, if you are looking to create a fun, dynamic playlist to pump yourself up before a sports game/party/rendezvous, definitely lean towards songs with fast beats and variated sounds.

Prioritize specific artists.

This is the fun part. This is where your playlist truly becomes a personalized representation of your being. Keeping the aforementioned mood and tempo in mind, you are now able to choose your favorite artists and the songs they have produced. If you aren’t particularly driven or inspired by a specific performer, I have provided a helpful list below, all of which correspond with unique emotions. Enjoy. Some of the artists overlap because they are musical geniuses that are capable of spanning across various feelings/moods.

  • Sadness: Keaton Henson, Bon Iver, Damien Rice, The Neighbourhood, Elliot Smith, Young the Giant, the Avett Brothers, Rainbow Kitten Surprise
  • Pregaming: M.I.A., Kendrick Lamar, (a very small, selective amount of) Drake, Mac Miller, Felly, Bobby Shmurda 
  • Anger: Kelly Clarkson, All American Regrets, Nirvana, BROCKHAMPTON
  • Early 2000s: Far East Movement, Enrique Iglesias, Britney Spears, Cascada, Ke$ha, Taio Cruz, Usher
  • Classic Rock: Elton John, The Eagles, Lynyrd Skynyrd, George Harrison, Neil Young, Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, America
  • Romantic Rendezvous (hu): Two Feet, The Weeknd, The Neighbourhood, Daniel Caesar, EDEN, NoMBe, Lewis Del Mar
  • Relaxation: Young the Giant, Daniel Caesar, Glass Animals, Lewis Del Mar, Felly
  • Love: Frank Sinatra, Young the Giant, Mac Miller, Peach Pit, Hozier, The Avett Brothers
  • Miscellaneous: Rex Orange County, Public Safety, Amy Winehouse, Childish Gambino, Talking Heads, Kings of Leon

Take a break.

You’ve earned it. While there’s nothing wrong with building up momentum and embarking on a playlist frenzy, a nice step back from the situation is often an essential piece of the process. Fix yourself a coffee, enjoy the beautiful Charleston weather, maybe even purchase a wholesome book that reflects the human condition. Breathe. Perhaps look into some cheesy inspirational quotes on Pinterest.

Creating a Spotify playlist is not supposed to be mentally strenuous.

Take advantage of Spotify’s generated ‘suggested songs’ list.

If, and when, you run out of material for your playlist, but you still wish to develop your compilation, I would highly suggest approaching the ‘suggested songs’ list with an open mind. Often times, hidden gems are on that list, it’s just a matter of discovering them. Who knows, perhaps you will end up finding a new favorite artist.

Shop around for aesthetically pleasing cover art.

This is pretty self-explanatory. Being the *enlightened* and *cultural* individual that I am, I tend to lean towards images of artwork. Whether that be swatches of paint or Renaissance-esque œuvres d’art. Below, I’ve provided some examples, lifted straight from my Spotify account.


It’s finally time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I commend you for your persistence and dedication.

Overplay it for three months, delete it, and then repeat the aforementioned steps.


Follow me on Spotify for further guidance: @marygraceful