As a child of the ’80s and ’90s, the mixtape was crucial to my upbringing. Before we were married, my husband, bandmate, and best friend would regularly make me mixtapes; the tradition continued after we got married (and evolved along with technology) as he would make me mix CDs and leave them in my car for me to find. These days, the new mixtape/mix CD is the Spotify Playlist, and during the Advent season, I decided to give it a try and made one to go with our Advent in a Bag (an advent at-home kit for children in our parish). It was fun to put together, so I created another one for Lent, and now one for Easter.
Playlists Ground Us in the Season
In our pandemic-y weird space of ministry, we find ourselves in these playlists. They have been a way to connect and create something to guide us through the season together. If nothing else they have helped to center me in the season. Creating them is fun and cathartic. Just this past week, Dolly Parton and I had church in my kitchen as she sang “He’s Alive” from my Easter playlist while I made chicken fajitas. Funny how the seasons get a bit jumbled when you’re in ministry. Always prepping in advance gives me more time with each season.
Here’s how I make a playlist:
- Get Set Up with Spotify: First, you will need a Spotify account, which you can get for free or pay a fee and upgrade to a premium account. We have a family account, and it is well worth the money both to avoid the commercials and to have multiple users. (Don’t get me started on the shared account wars!)
- Create a Playlist: After making your account you can start your playlist by going to Your Library and selecting “create a playlist”.
- Give your playlist a name. Typically I use our parish name and the season.
- Now you can begin adding songs to your playlist by selecting “add songs”. This will bring up a search bar where you can type in your songs of choice.
- Use Suggested Songs… Sometimes: Spotify’s algorithm will also suggest songs based on your playlist title and the songs you add. I find this to be helpful to a point…but it really depends on what you are looking for in a playlist.
- Because musical tastes are so diverse and I want to honor that as much as possible (since I’m creating a playlist intended to be used by everyone in our parish), I like to create diverse playlists. My process takes several weeks of me listening to lots of different music and curating the playlist from these listening sessions. I take suggestions from Spotify, my own musical library, my husband, and even other playlists. I like to make sure I have Taizé, Choral, Acoustic, Country, Rap, and Rock, or at least one from each of these categories.
- Diversify The Playlist: I try not to add too many songs from one artist, keeping it to one or two from each of my favorites (an exception to this would be times when a song has been recorded by multiple artists).
- I also make a point to find songs from different eras, but try to keep the majority of the music fresh by choosing songs from 2018-2021.
- Work From a Theme: Find a theme that supports the season and what you are learning together (for Lent, it was Social Justice; for Easter, it’s Hope), then choose songs according to that theme.
- A Note on Sequencing: The order of songs is important (sequencing is a lost art!), but don’t spend too much time on this as many of us shuffle our playlists, so yours will probably not be played in order anyway. That said, I am intentional about the opening and closing songs on my playlists.
- To edit your playlist on Spotify’s mobile app, tap the three dots to the right and select “edit playlist”; change the order of your songs by tapping the three lines next to the song you want to move and drag it to your chosen location. On Spotify’s desktop app, you can just click and drag to reorder your tracks.
- Customizing: If you would like to add a custom cover, you can do so in this space as well by selecting the three dots on the right top of the screen at the top of your playlist, selecting “edit,” and then follow the prompts to change the image. Your image will need to be a square, as you cannot edit it once you have uploaded it. (If you choose not to add a custom image here, Spotify will use the cover art from your first four songs on the playlist.)
- Share, share, share!! Now your playlist is complete and all that’s left to do is to share! I do this a few ways and Spotify makes it easy! Make your playlist public and use the “share” button to get a link to your playlist. I have also used a QR code on publication to share playlists. I then uploaded the QR image to Canva and made a design to use in publications.
Enjoy! He is Risen!