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Exploring Curated Playlists

They’re a great way to expand your palette of music … and possibly to get discovered.

Covering virtually every genre from country to rock to jazz and hip-hop, curated playlists on streaming services are a hot new trend. Not only do they satisfy musical cravings, they can expose listeners to new and exciting music that they may not otherwise have found on their own — and can also help emerging artists get discovered.

Simply put, a curated playlist is one put together by a person, as opposed to a computer algorithm. (On Spotify®, the latter are called “personalized” playlists.) Curated playlists are created and maintained by individual users or editorial teams, driven by their personal tastes and preferences. They allow you to take your listening experience to a whole new level, and best of all, anyone can create one!

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how curated playlists work and spotlight some of the best ones out there.

Playlists that are Style-Driven

Many of the most popular curated playlists are genre-specific — think Spotify’s “RapCaviar” (which has over 14 million users and is credited with launching the careers of several new artists), “Todays Country Hits” or “Canal Off – Surf.” Others are more context-driven, such as “Bollywood Curated,” “Sad songs for the boys” or “Study Beats.”

Personally, I love curated playlists and use them almost every day. Instead of taking time to hunt around for particular tracks, I can just identify a style that I’m interested in hearing at that very moment. For example, when I want to listen to some jammin’ reggae on Pandora®, I simply type in “Bob Marley” and then navigate over to “Playlists.” I then get results such as “Bob Marley A-Z,” a 20-song playlist of Marley’s best tracks, along with “Deep Cuts: Bob Marley” (similar, but with 29 songs). On Spotify, a search for “Bob Marley” returns curated playlists like “Bob Marley Radio,” which includes a diverse selection of artists from Damian Marley to Musical Youth, Anton Ellis, UB40, Toots & The Maytals and more. That way, I can stay either on the artist that I specifically want to hear, or expand my musical tastes with other artists working in the same genre.

Playlists That Reflect Personal Taste

Don’t think that curated playlists just stick to a certain style, however. Often they are designed to reflect the diverse personal tastes of the individual or individuals who created them. For example, check out the Spotify “Music For … Inspiration” list put together by Robin Pecknold, frontman for the indie band Fleet Foxes; it will give you an interesting insight into the music that influences him and his fellow bandmembers. In a similar vein, “Wilco Recommends” (also on Spotify) includes tracks recorded by the band themselves as well as favorites by other artists such as Tweedy, Billie Eilish, Beyoncé, Lizzo and others.

Summer Day, Summer Night,” a playlist on Amazon Music curated by Tae-EM, harkens the sounds of summer, which might just be the thing you need to get through a cold winter night. Then there’s  “Uninterrupted Radio” playlist on Pandora, which provides stations curated by sports stars like Lebron James, Trae Young and others. Perhaps the most intriguing of all is Apple Music’s “A Playlist Curated By Deaf People,” which features songs by artists like Rupert Holmes, Etta James, Eminem and Keith Sweat, demonstrating that music does not have to be heard to be felt.

Build Your Own

As mentioned previously, you can easily create your own curated playlist and share it with friends and family. If you’re looking to pitch your playlist to one of the major streaming services so that the general public can access it too, here are some useful hints:

  • Be on the lookout for new music
  • Select a variety of tracks that you love
  • Give the playlist a theme and a purpose
  • Aim for a total of 30-50 songs
  • Include just one song per artist
  • Update your playlist regularly

Curated playlists also provide a great way to hear emerging artists who may have never gotten exposure, not because of any lack of talent but simply due to the overwhelming amount of music we all now have access to. It can be hard to discover some of these unknown musicians unless we are pointed to them … and these playlists do the pointing.

If you create your own original music, consider putting together a curated playlist for use as a promotional tool. Spotify accepts direct submissions from musicians; simply sign on through the Spotify For Artists website. And Amazon offers a new feature that allows artists to pitch their music to the company’s playlist curators. If they like what they hear, the editorial team places your song on a playlist in that genre of music. With these and other initiatives, it’s becoming increasingly easier to share your music with the world!


For some great tips on how to get playlists of your music posted on a major streaming service, be sure to check out this blog article.

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