The idea behind a playlist is simple:
Create a mood. Invite discovery. And be so in tune with your own musical soul that you’ll never think about skipping a track.
Ideally, it should be a set-it-and-forget-it process. Which is where algorithm-fueled services like Pandora and Spotify (via their Discovery playlist) don’t quite succeed. And as great as sites like 8Tracks are at sharing well-curated playlists, they still require you to hunt down people you trust.
So it seems that we need a mix of computer brains and ye ol’ human touch to reach our musical sweet spot. Thankfully, there are a few new apps and services here to help.
For creating a great playlist on the fly
Like a particular band? On the just-launched Fab.fm, just type in an artist’s name, then add suggested like-minded songs (each with 30-second audio samples) to your playlist with a Tinder-like swipe. Name the playlist, then save it to your Fab.fm and Spotify accounts for playback and sharing.
For “set it and forget it” parties
Designed by Serato, a professional DJ software company, the iOS app Pyro turns your jumbled Spotify collection into club-ready playlists. Using some proprietary algorithms, the app analyzes your music (preferably in the dance, hip-hop and pop realms) and then crafts seamless mixes, complete with smooth transitions and “intelligent” song recommendations.
For playlist collaboration (or starting fights)
Flo is a social music app that connects everyone’s smartphone into one central playlist, allowing you and your friends to fight over what’s coming next on your speaker — or your phones (you can play tracks simultaneously through all your synced devices). Bonus: You’re not limited to Spotify, allowing you to sneak in obscure SoundCloud remixes and downloaded songs from your own inventory.
For radio playlists without the radio
Here’s an odd, interesting proposition: say you think a particular radio station is the bee’s knees when it comes to curation. Recast will access those stations’ current song rotations and curate playlists, via Spotify, while stripping out the annoying stuff (like DJs and ads). Works best on highly intelligent stations, like Australia’s Triple J or England’s BBC 1, where you’ll get a nice mix across genres.