What about the end? The evolution from mixtape to playlist.
With over 5 million playlists being created or edited every single day, just on Spotify alone — it is safe to say, Playlists are the most popular form of music listening today. Playlists are the mixtape of the 21st century.
Yes, they are a hell of a lot easier to create than a mixtape on those old cassettes. But this ease of use has made us a bit more complacent and we have lost something truly magical about the mixtape. The ending.
The perfect mixtape tells a story. It has a beginning, a middle and also very importantly, an end.
When we created a mixtape — real estate was sparse and we were bound by time (60/90 minutes), so we needed to choose our tracks wisely. We had to be cut-throat with our selection and make sure we put the songs in the right order. A lot of careful planning and editing was required. These restraints actually made for a better mixtape.
Sure, today we can edit the playlist a million times over, but because of that we are a lot more forgiving with our own track selection and more importantly, we don’t really think about the journey. We just throw a bunch of songs in a folder and hit shuffle, often losing out on what made a mixtape so magical in the first place.
Have you ever been to a concert, where the band or artist play for an hour, then just stop, stand up and leave?
No, “thank you, goodnight”. No encore! They just got up and walked out. How incredibly unsatisfying would that be?
At a concert, an encore prepares us, the audience, for the inevitable. The show is going to end. The encore (or 5 — depending on the artist) is our cue, that we better enjoy every second of this last song, because after that the curtains are drawn and the show is over.
Every great novelist or movie director, understands the importance of a great ending. We as consumers, expect it. We expect to be on the edge of our seat, right until the credits roll up. The culmination of a good story all coming together and the plot revealing the suspicions you had all along. That final twist in the story that made your palms sweat.
So why would it be any different with music?
The reason an ending is just as important as a start, when listening to music, is because our brain naturally wants to anticipate what will come next and when it is too predictable (there is no variation, linear) it switches off and the music becomes a background experience. Meditation playlists do exactly that. They help you relax, de-stress and get in a trance like state. You could skip 5 songs and still feel like you are in the same place. Now, that is great if that is your aim, but most of us listen to music with different intentions - when training, commuting to work or in a social setting. Every time our needs are inherently different, and the music experience should match that.
Today music streaming services focus on the start! Their curated playlists and stations are geared towards the beginning. “Pick a song or artist, to get started” — then they take care of the rest.
Sure, it’s easy and fast and gets the user to the music very quickly. But is that playlist fulfilling, is it telling a story, do the songs fit together and does it create something more for you than just music playing on the background?
Understandably the start is ever so crucial, but the end has been highly underestimated…
Below is a playlist I created a few days ago, using Muru. It was a Friday evening and I needed to eat some food before getting ready to meet up with some friends. I decided to cook which means music will be playing. I had 2 hours before I needed to leave the house, so I started with a bit of Soul and wanted to end on a high that would get me in the mood for a social night out with my friends, so I picked “Disclosure”.
“How the hell did I get from Aretha Franklin to Disclosure’s Latch?”
This playlist was providing me with some Soulful gems while I was preparing my meal and then it naturally progressed into something different that had automagically set the tone for the night out.
What’s important to note here, is that this playlist tells a story, it has an evolution with a natural progression and a clear end. It evolved as my night did as I was getting ready to go out. It provided me with what I needed while cooking (the start), it evolved into something more up tempo while I was having a shower (the middle) and by the time I was getting dressed, I was listening to some excellent Deep House. As “Latch” came on, I was ready for the night ahead.
The end was important because it reminded me, why I was listening to the music in the first place — I was going out. This might seem trivial, but I dare you to create a playlist like this and see for yourself. Having your playlist create a journey, just like a great DJ — is incredibly powerful.
Who knows what future tech will allow us to do with playlists. What I do know is, that personalisation needs to be brought back to music listening. Perhaps this is a very good step forward.
for more information, visit www.murumusic.com