Playlist, Getting Started, Broadcasting, Tips, Advice

10 Tips for Creating Perfect Radio Playlists

Creating great playlists for your radio events requires careful consideration and a specific attention to detail. Engaging playlists need to be both diverse and cohesive, which is a difficult combination to strike a balance with. So, check out our 10 tips for crafting perfect radio playlists below!


1. Always be on the look out for new music.

Taking the time to look for new music and always keeping your eyes and ears out is important for creating extraordinary playlists. While you may have tons of music in your library, there is even more music out there to be discovered. And, that music is key for keeping your station fresh and interesting. So, regularly set some time aside to specifically look for music and take notice of music around you at all times. You never know when or where you'll find a new song or artist you end up loving!

Also, keep in mind that new music does not need to be "new" as in recently released, it can simply be new to you!

2. Variety is key.

Variety in your playlist is vital to creating a captivating playlist. Of course, cohesion is a priority, but you can have a diverse playlist that also flows nicely. Incorporate a variety of artists, genres, speeds, intensities, instruments, beats, etc. into your playlist.

3. Have a theme and purpose.

Having a theme and purpose can be an awesome starting point for creating distinct, yet cohesive playlists. Specifically, having themes and purposes for your playlists can be a great way to direct your song selection. You can choose to stick with a single theme or purpose, multiple themes or purposes, or even combine them.

4. Aim for 30-50 songs.

While you can schedule a single event up to 24 hours on the Live365 platform, the optimal length of a playlist is about 30-50 songs. Generally speaking, with this length, you can create an engaging playlist that hits your theme and purpose, all the artists you want to include, and all the best songs around your theme and purpose. If your playlist includes too many songs, your theme and purpose will likely be lost and it will be more of a big list of songs than a playlist. On the other hand, if your playlist is too short, your theme and purpose won't be conveyed.

5. Include one song per artist.

Due to the DMCA, you cannot play more than four different songs by the same artist, with no more than three of those songs consecutively, within a 3 hour period. However, aside from this, it is also in your best interest to only include 1-2 songs per artist in your playlist. You want your playlist to have variety, and playing the same artist more than once or twice will take away from that crucial quality of your playlist.

6. Keep it updated.

Making a playlist a recurring event on your station can be an effective tactic for scheduling, but that means that you need to keep it updated. You always want your playlist to be relevant and fresh for your listeners. That's not to say that you need to switch the majority of your songs every week though. Just adding a few songs, taking some out, and rearranging them each week or so can keep your playlist consistently updated.

7. Select music that you love.

Putting music that you love into a playlist automatically makes it more likely that your playlist will be engaging. Since music you love is what you are the most familiar with, you have a better chance at making a cohesive playlist with music you genuinely love.

8. Take your brand into consideration.

Your awareness of your branding and whether the songs that you want to add to your playlist fit in with your station's brand can truly make or break your playlist. There are many genre-bending songs out there and some genres are more connected than others, which makes it possible to include a variety of genres in one playlist. However, it is still important to consider your brand and use your discretion when selecting songs. It only takes one song that's too far off from your station's brand to take an awesome playlist to a mishmash of songs.

9. Think about structure.

The music itself is important, but so is structure. You don't want to play too many songs by the same artist or play too many songs that sound similar. You also don't want to play too many new songs or too many songs that you play often. Additionally, after you select your songs, you then need to arrange them appropriately for diversity and cohesion. Making a playlist is all about balance.

10. Be creative.

Getting creative with your playlists will always help with engagement. Whether you select a creative playlist theme or you go searching for some new songs and artists for your playlist, it will pay off to think outside of the box a bit when making your playlists!


Tip: Promoting your playlist using a schedule is a great way to develop an audience and communicate with them. While you cannot disclose the titles of specific songs, the names of albums, or the names of artists to be played due to the DMCA, you can title your playlist appropriately and give it a quick description to let your listeners know what to expect.

Note: When making playlists, remember that your playlists must be DMCA compliant. The Live365 platform checks your playlists for DMCA compliance, but it is always a good idea to be mindful of the rules when creating your playlist so that you can get right to the point of making a playlist that is awesome, without worrying that your playlist is not DMCA compliant. For more information on DMCA compliance, check out our help desk article here.


There's no disputing how difficult it can be to make engaging playlists for your radio station. Branding of your station, song choice, playlist length, playlist theme, and more are all considerations that make it tough. However, with these tips in mind, you should be on your way to making perfect radio playlists in no time!

Check out our article entitled How to Make Great Playlists for Your Radio Station to learn more about playlist theme and purpose, structure, and song choice. For 11 playlist theme ideas for your radio station, see our article here.


See how many stations have joined the Radio Revolution at https://live365.com/listen. Keep up with the latest news by following us on Facebook (Live365 Official and Live365 Broadcasting) and Twitter (@Live365 and @Broadcaster365)!


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About Michelle Ruoff

  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania