8 Tips for Making the Perfect Party Playlist

These experts know all about crafting the right sound for your party.

8 Tips for Making Party Playlists
Photo courtesy Jake Rudh
Music is a must-have at any party, but where do you start? Which genre or artists are best? Do you stick to mainstream or throw in some unknowns? Can bad songs actually make your ears bleed? That’s why we've enlisted these local music experts to help.

Our experts: 
Jake Rudh: DJ extraordinaire with more than 18 years of experience, winner of several “Best DJ” awards; host of “Transmission” club night and radio show on 89.3 The Current.
Keri Noble: singer-songwriter, best known for songs “Hey Lover,” “Talk to Me,” and a self-produced holiday album; Cities 97 morning show co-host.
Holly Henry: 19-year-old contestant on “The Voice,”  (as a member of Team Blake) who made it to the knockout round; been singing since she was three years old; Hopkins High School graduate.
Bobby Z.: played with Prince for eight years as the drummer in the Revolution; grew up in Minneapolis; runs My Purple Heart (which raises funds and awareness for heart disease); hosts his own radio show on K-TWIN 96.3 every Sunday.

1. There’s no “one size fits all” playlist.
“It's knowing your audience and getting a good feel for the room before you begin," says Rudh. "Your playlist is always contingent on who your crowd is."

2. Don’t make it you vs. your guests.
“The key is not to force what you like on them, but think about the group, the time of day, the volume, and the intended outcome,” says Noble.

3. Branch out.
“Get some music together that has some unique artists in there," Henry suggests. "Something with a beat, something that’s catchy, but nothing that’s too popular so people you share the playlist with won’t know all the songs that are on it."

4. Check YouTube for new artists.
Says Henry: “If I’m looking for new music, I’ll go on YouTube and find one of my favorite artists and then look at the YouTube suggestions videos and start finding artists through that. It’s super helpful."

5. Let your fellow listeners have a say – if it fits the party’s vibe.
“Be open to requests, but at the same time don't be afraid to say 'no' to a song that doesn't fit the vibe of the event," says Rudh. "Scandinavian Death Metal typically doesn't work either."

6. Give it a complete listen ahead of time.
“I’ve made playlists where I didn’t notice super loud guitar solos that go on forever, or songs where, after a few minutes, the bass is mixed so loud that it becomes punishing," says Noble. "Also, once the party begins, the last thing you want to do is be in the middle of a conversation with someone, and realize that the lyrics to the song playing are offensive. Make sure to keep that in mind when choosing songs."

7. When in doubt, play Prince.
“My go-to song is ‘Let’s Go Crazy,' Prince can resurrect any party," says Bobby Z, though he also cautions: "No goofy songs.” 

8. Finally, no playlist is complete without … 
“A touch of the ‘80s,” —Jake Rudh
“Michael Jackson,” —Keri Noble
“A nostalgic song,” —Holly Henry
“Prince,” —Bobby Z.