In my opinion, there isn’t a strict set of guidelines that determine what qualifies as a playlist and what doesn’t. They can be those massive four-hour-long compilations you never end up finishing or they can even be as short as one song. Playlists can also be a specific mood or just a collection of tracks you happen to like at the time. I made one recently called “Crab Music” because I thought it was music crabs would dance to (it’s only one song). The important part, at least for me, is an intention to convey meaning through the songs you include. I also believe there’s a fundamentally human element that comes with sharing the music we listen to, and that the playlist is an embodiment of that.  


In many respects, musical preference is a sort of digital fingerprint, with the nuances in our libraries all coming together to paint detailed pictures of who we are as people. Whenever I hear someone else’s music or listen to them talk about the music they enjoy, I feel like I’m seeing a clear reflection of their personality. Instead of writing an author’s bio, for instance, I probably could leave it at “ABBA, Doris Day, Whitney, Earl Sweatshirt, and Aubrey Huntsman” and you would get the idea. Musical taste is like a litmus test for personality which in theory is pretty baseless, but for some reason usually leads you in the right direction. And I think that’s cool.  


This ability to instantly cultivate deeper understandings between yourself and others in such a simple way is what makes music so interesting to me, and it’s the connections I’ve developed through mutual sharing of music that has had memorable impacts on my life. In this respect, the playlist becomes such a powerful medium for self-expression and also a valuable tool for getting to know others.  


Between my friends, it’s always been the collaborative playlist. If you have Spotify and haven’t used this feature before, it essentially lets you make one playlist that multiple people can add tracks to. In the past, it’s been that as soon as summer starts my friends and I create this shared playlist and every week add 2 or 3 of our favourite songs. By the time school starts again we have a huge list of songs that represent memories from our summers, and which taken together reflects our distinct personalities and tastes. Even as I’m writing this now, the songs “Misanthropulsar”, “Wake Up Jacob”, and “Can’t Stop (A Playa)” still call to mind summer 2018. That means nothing to you, but I guess that’s the point; it’s a shared experience between me and my friends that holds meaning to us uniquely. And isn’t it the culmination of shared experiences like this that form the basis of friendships?


By making playlists for someone else, you’re choosing how you want to be perceived through the songs you include. At the same time, you’re sharing a part of yourself with another person which is exciting because it’s intimate in a very accessible way.  


In a romantic setting, this conversation couldn’t be more relevant. Sharing playlists is an insight into someone else’s world, and you feel a sense of closeness and acceptance when the songs you suggested – and by which you self-identify – are appreciated by the other person. It’s also really cool to see how your respective tastes begin to overlap more and more as the relationship develops, showing that our musical preferences can in some ways be a proxy for the comfort we feel with another person.  


With all that in mind, I don’t think it comes with any surprise why we get all warm and fuzzy after seeing that “I made you a playlist” text. 

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