The Do’s And Dont’s Of A Perfect Party Playlist


During the holiday season, it feels like everyone is throwing some sort of party. While a savvy hostess can handle most things, from the florals to a festive punch, one area that can be often overlooked, but is crucial to an event’s success, is the music. Having a lively and engaging playlist is just as important as a delicious spread of beautiful appetizers. No one knows this more than the team at Rockbot. The Oakland-based company is the fastest growing commercially licensed music service provider in the nation. Think of it as a music streaming service for businesses.

Dallas Osborn
Dallas Osborn

With backers Google Ventures and Universal Music Group and clients like Gap, Hilton, Salesforce, LinkedIn and JetBlue, Rockbot is killing it. What many big name brands don’t realize is that using Spotify to broadcast tunes in their stores is technically illegal. Rockbot is helping businesses understand this by offering them everything from curated Christmas playlists to customized musical background noise. Since these guys know playlists, we reached out to Brandon Ancier and Dallas Osborn, the head of growth and head of music curation, to learn the right way to curate a proper party playlist. Here is what they had to say.

Do make a list of A LOT of songs.

Osborn’s playlists ideally have between 200 and 300 songs—that’s about 13 hours of music and a good range of songs where guests won’t hear repetition. For a evening event that lasts several hours, make sure you have 100-150 songs.

Don’t overlook the age range of your guests.

Consider the demographics of your friends and family members. For a group of people in the 25 to 40 age range, go with a pop and electronic dance music (EDM) focus.


Do look at top 40 charts for inspiration.

Select songs that are doing fantastic in the mainstream market or those that stream live on Spotify. Spend time looking at the pop charts, the Top 40 charts, the rhythmic charts, and the dance charts. Grab songs that are in the top 20 or top 30 of those charts.

Don’t stray from familiar.

Choose songs that you’re hearing on the radio or songs you’ve stumbled upon on Spotify. Songs that perform well show up in more playlists here and there. You want songs that are familiar so when they come on, your guests will think, ‘hey, I know this song!’ and they can sing along, are happy to hear it, and may even start a dance party.

Do add discovery songs—if you’re on top of the music game.

If you feel that you have trendsetting taste, there’s no problem throwing in something that guests might not know yet, but when it comes on, they are going to be bobbing their heads and asking about the song’s title and artist. Sprinkle in some songs for discovery purposes. The fun aspect of discovery is something that shouldn’t be ignored.

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Don’t forget the order.

It’s important to think about your party’s segments. Divide your event into two or three styles and try to have that create an energy vibe and flow to the party. If the party is for New Year’s Eve and goes from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., break it down like so: guests arriving between 9 and 10 p.m. one type of music, then between 10 p.m. and midnight, you want a different set of songs that’s increasing the vibe. From midnight to 2 a.m., will be the come down of the party, so play songs that are more chill during those hours.

Do edit the playlist during the party.

If your playlist is going well, let it flow, but if you notice people aren’t really feeling it, change things up. If you were going for modern party vibe and the new Pink or Odessa songs aren’t working, then shift towards the 90s. Throw on a Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera song or depending on the demographic, head to the 80s.