Organizing the music for your next social event is one of the most fun parts of planning the event. Read the following steps for more tips and ideas on how to make your playlist really cool.
Method 1 of 2: Basic Strategy
Step 1. Start with numbers
Think demographics: How many people did you invite and how many do you expect to attend? Will someone bring a friend? Will there be strains? What is the age and general situation of your guests? 16-year-olds don't listen to the same music as 30-something professionals. Also think about how long you want the party to last. A three-hour mix and a six-hour mix, for example, need different strategies.
It is better to anticipate and think more than underestimate when it comes to time and the number of people. Think in terms of space rather than a specific number
Step 2. Learn what makes party music great
Generally speaking, good party music has a lively beat and doesn't need a lot of attention to be liked. Avoid songs with very complex or difficult structures, as well as songs that switch between rhythm / volume very loud to very quiet, and loud again. Sad and depressing songs, no matter how much you like them, have no place in the mix (except possibly at the end, but we'll talk about that later).
When you're unsure, look for music that has a happy beat and catchy musical hook. Some genres that usually offer this type of music are: modern R&B, R&B with influences of pop, dance pop, hip-hop, reggae, and pop-punk. Classical music, folk music, new age, and melancholic indie rock (like Neutral Milk Hotel and Modest Mouse) should be avoided, in most cases
Step 3. Put the music together
If your music collection is mostly digital, look for additional albums or songs that you think you'll want to use. If you work with a physical collection, put everything in one room. Either way, search through everything you have. Listen to bits and pieces of different albums and songs, and write whatever sounds good for your party, even if you're not 100% sure. The goal is to have a large enough song base to work with.
Step 4. Choose a balance
Most audiophiles have a need to share their new discoveries and lesser-known music with their friends, and a party mix is totally an acceptable place to introduce relatively "hidden" acts to people you know. The cardinal rule of thumb when making a great party mix, however, is that you should lean more towards songs that most people will recognize. Remember, being a good host is about making your guests happy, not satisfying your ego.
No more than 15-20% of your final mix should be unfamiliar music, as a general rule. This is flexible obviously, but it's a good drawer rule for most ordinary parties. Fill the rest of your mix with popular artists and catchy music both old and new, like Justin Timberlake, OutKast, Beyonce, Hall and Oates, Kendrick Lamar, The Doobie Brothers, Drake, and Michael Jackson
Step 5. Decide on a digital method
If you work entirely with digital music, you have two basic choices: random or non-random. A random playlist can be more fun, as you won't know which song is next, but it needs you to have a more careful balance in terms of songs, since you don't want multiple songs by the same artist to come out in a row. On the other hand, if you don't put it random, it allows you to arrange the songs according to the moment of the party (which would require a different list for each moment if you want it random).
Step 6. Decide on a physical method
If you use CDs, the options are a bit different. Users of physical media will have to arrange the songs in a certain order, but can change the CDs individually. Combined with the fact that each CD-R holds about 80 minutes of audio, it means that you can mix both methods and play the discs in a certain order but with the songs randomized, or if you have a CD player with space for multiple CDs. at the same time, you can select a random option among all of them.
Step 7. Think about the course of the party
Most party mixes can go one of two ways: loud and fun from start to finish, or mixed in a trajectory. Either method is fine, but if you are not going to select the random option, the second option is better. Generally speaking, you can choose the first hour or so to be quieter, and plan for a similar time a few hours later. The music should still be fun, but you can gradually build up to more energetic songs.
Step 8. Make a list to close
Regardless of which method you choose, have a list of calm and relaxing music of about an hour (in a separate mix, either list or CD). You can put this music on when the party is over, so people start picking up and leaving. The Pink Floyd song Dark Side of the Moon became very popular to end the party; other viable options include artists like DJ Krush, Belle and Sebastian, or the Replacements. Choose quiet and soft music.
Step 9. Gather your entire mix
Listen to the beginning of each song in order and make sure you are happy with it. (If you choose shuffle, do it anyway to make sure all the songs sound good together.) Once you're satisfied, save the mix (digital) or burn it to discs (manual) and you're done.
If you are playing music from a cell phone or mp3 player, make sure you have a cable to send the sound to your stereo speakers. You can buy the cable for a few dollars at most electronics stores
Step 10. Play your mix
There is an art to knowing when to start with music. You can start as soon as the first guest arrives, but if you wait half an hour and start when there are more people, you will have a better effect. The start time usually depends on the type of party you have and how many friends you are waiting for. Some variants and specific situations are mentioned below
Method 2 of 2: Alternatives and Special Situations
Step 1. Host a classy dinner
If the party is a small gathering for 4-12 people, there is no need to make a very large mix, nor to add music to dance. Instead, help everyone relax and feel classy by putting on some classic jazz. But not just any jazz album; Look for famous jazz artists, and look mostly for variations on familiar songs rather than original compositions (although these are also good if you add them in moderation). You will only need a few music albums at most.
- Don't randomize jazz; instead put on the full album to keep the mood you want.
- As for the era, stick to your 20s between 1951 and 1971. Jazz this time has a classic jazz sound that most people find relaxing and sophisticated.
Consider these albums as helpful starting points: Soular Energy, Ray Brown Trio with Gene Harris; Time Out, Dave Brubeck Quartet; Kind of Blue, Miles Davis; Idle Moments, Grant Green
- You can also try bossa nova albums (like Antonio Jobim's excellent Wave song) or other “relaxing” music, but be careful not to make your guests feel like they are listening to elevator music.
Step 2. Make your mix interactive
This works best if you have a collection of CDs or LPs, but you can do something similar with digital music. Before the party, separate each album that does not go according to the party, leaving only the good albums in the main area. Put one on the player as guests arrive, and leave the rest of the albums in a visible place for guests to see. Offer people to play an album or songs they want, one per person. Your guests will have another activity to entertain themselves with, and you can ensure that only the albums you have chosen will be played.
To be safe, don't leave behind any albums that can be difficult or expensive to replace in case it breaks. These accidents usually happen at parties
Step 3. Make a mix with a theme
Themed mixes are not only useful at themed parties, they are also good for displaying a collection that has some depth and can give additional structure to a more public event (such as a neighborhood party). Simply search your collection for your favorite songs of a certain genre or that interest you a lot for something in particular. You can even make mixes for more specific parties like a maritime or desert theme. People love that the music has to do with the theme of the evening.
- A mix of old rock, rockabilly, and bebop is great for a retro gathering.
- Classic '70s funk and soul adds a rich, decadent vibe to any warm summer night.
- Separate your mix between EDM (Skrillex, Tiesto, the Chemical Brothers) and IDM (Bonobo, Aphex Twin, Modeselektor) to create a mix for a rave. (You can learn how to mix and match the beats to make it feel even more authentic, but we didn't mention that here.)
- Especially when you are doing a random mix, be careful not to put too many songs from the same artist. A maximum of three songs per artist should work well for you in a mix of 250 or so songs (which is usually more than enough for most parties); If you are thinking of 100-125 songs, reduce the number to two per artist.
- Do not close yourself to the requests of your guests. It makes the party more fun for them. Feel free to take control of the mix again once you've played the requested song.