With the growing number of radios that exist nowadays, it can be difficult to set your station apart from the rest. The content of your radio plays an important role in attracting new listeners and keeping them coming back for more. Your choice of music is crucial, but knowing how to classify that music to create great radio playlists to broadcast on your station can be much harder than it seems.

1. Stay loyal to your radio branding
2. Radio playlists with a genre or purpose
3. Avoid repetition
4. Think about rhythm
5. Take your listeners’ taste into consideration
6. Help your listeners discover new music
7. Go further than the music

Once you have all of your music in front of you, it can be difficult to decide what to do with it all in order to create radio playlists that your listeners will enjoy. There are many different ways that you can organize your music, whether it’s via genre, keyword, speed, etc… Today we’re going to take a look at how to create great radio playlists that correspond to your station and will make people want to listen!

Stay loyal to your radio branding

The first thing to remember is that your playlists should correspond to the branding of your radio in order to stay coherent with your image.

What is radio branding?

Radio branding refers to anything that makes your radio station what it is, such as genre, theme, values, tone, etc… It’s essentially the identity of your radio station and will help people understand who you are! By creating your radio branding, you help define the type of content that is broadcast on your radio station (by genre, theme, mood, era, or language for example.)

This will also help you reach people who are attracted to your branding, and therefore, are more likely to become regular listeners. So if you have a Rock ‘n’ Roll radio station, don’t include Country or Rap songs in your broadcast as it’s probably not what your audience wants to hear when listening to your radio.

Why is sticking to branding important?

Staying loyal to your branding shows people that you are honest, and stick to your values. You have a higher chance of creating true connections with your audience who probably share the same values as you. If your listeners tune into your radio, it’s most likely because they feel a connection with it. By choosing a specific theme or angle for your radio station, you want your radio to become a well-known reference in that area, so it’s essential that you stick with it. 

Don’t disappoint your Jazz fans by broadcasting Cardi B just because she’s ranked highly in the charts. Remember, broadcasting popular music isn’t the only reason that will make people want to listen to your radio! 

Radio playlists with a genre or purpose

Classifying your music according to a genre or purpose is also a great way to organize and create great radio playlists.

Playlists based on a genre

This method is one of the simplest, especially if you have a generalist radio station that broadcasts many different genres of music. This method simply refers to the creation of radio playlists based on the musical genre of the music. 

For example, you can create separate playlists for various genres such as: 

  • Rock
  • Electro
  • Hip Hop

You can go even further and create sub-categories for each genre in order to narrow down the selection, for example: 

  • 80s Rock
  • 00s Electro
  • 90s Hip Hop

This is a great way to let your listeners know what they can expect for the next hour on your radio! By announcing the upcoming playlist, they can decide whether the upcoming programming corresponds to what they want to listen to. Don’t forget to let them know what will be following that playlist so that they can tune back in later when another genre will be playing. 

Top Tip: The Radio Manager allows you to tag your songs by genre and facilitate the creation of automatic playlists. For example, add an “Electro” tag to all of your electro songs. Once your titles have been tagged, you can transform them into an automatic playlist in a few easy clicks. Plus, when you add new songs to your media library with the “Electro” tag, they will automatically be added to that playlist too!

Playlists with a purpose

Instead of creating radio playlists based only on genre, you may want to go a step further and curate content with a precise purpose. There are many different ways to go about this and the possibilities are endless! Here are a few examples that correspond to actions or events in your listeners’ day: 

  • Monday Motivation: get your listeners ready for the week with a motivating playlist that you broadcast on Monday mornings. 
  • Concentration: a playlist that can be kept on in the background to help your audience concentrate on a task at hand.
  • Workout: create an upbeat radio playlist for your audience to listen to whilst working out.
  • Relaxation: help your listeners unwind with a selection of relaxing music.

These radio playlists may take more time to create, as their purpose is generally more specific than a “genre playlist”. For these playlists to be effective, it’s important that you know your audience well so that you can provide them with the content that they want and need.

You can also base your radio playlists on a specific word to help create a particular mood. The Radio Manager allows you to generate an automatic playlist with the songs in your media library that have a defined word in the title, such as:

  • Love: regroup the songs in your media library with the word “love” in their title.
  • Dance: regroup the songs in your media library with the word “dance” in their title.
  • Summer: regroup the songs in your media library with the word “summer” in their title.

Avoid repetition

Repetition is one of the fastest ways to lose listeners. There’s nothing worse than tuning into your favorite radio station, only to hear the same songs or artists being played over and over again… There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure that your radio playlists remain fresh and relevant.

Update your radio playlists

Creating a great radio playlist isn’t enough to ensure your content pleases your listeners. You may have created one great playlist, but once your listeners have heard it, they’ll want something new the next time they tune in. That’s why it’s essential to regularly update your playlists in order to keep them fresh and relevant. 

We’re not saying that you need to completely re-create your playlist every day, that would be a never-ending task. However, it’s important that you take the time to renew the content often enough to make sure that your listeners don’t get bored. Adding songs, removing others, and even rearranging the order each week or so is enough to keep your radio playlists updated.

Radio playlist rotation

Playlist rotation refers to the number of times a song or artist is played. If an artist is on high rotation, this means that they will get played a lot on your radio. Oppositely, if an artist is on low rotation, they are not regularly broadcast. It’s important for you to have a balanced rotation in your radio playlists. You may be tempted to broadcast multiple songs from the same artist if they have just released a new album that is getting positive reviews. You can, of course, have certain artists on high rotation, however, we suggest that you avoid playing more than 1 song from them in the same hour.

Generally speaking, songs or artists with high rotation are: 

  • Popular
  • Current
  • Requested by listeners

Top Tip: The Radio Manager allows you to configure broadcasting constraints to make sure that titles or artists in your library are not repeated before X minutes have passed. It’s a great way to ensure that your radio playlists vary songs and artists, all whilst making sure that your listeners don’t get bored.

Think about rhythm

Rhythm is another factor that can hugely influence how you organize your radio playlists. 

Understanding BPM

The term BPM (beats per minute) refers to the measurement of the tempo or speed of a song. Music with a higher BPM has a faster rhythm, whereas tracks with a lower BPM will be much slower. There are various online sources that allow you to calculate the specific BPM of a song. The RadioKing Radio Manager will automatically calculate the BPM of each song uploaded to your media library and include it in the song’s metadata.

radio playlists

radio playlists

Knowing the BPM of the songs in your media library, and creating radio playlists according to tempo can be another great way to organize your broadcast.

Building the rhythm

There are various ways to use the BPM of your music to create your playlists. For example, you can match the BPM to specific moments of the day, gradually increasing the speed as the day goes on. Start your morning broadcast with slow songs and build speed throughout the day to accompany your listeners. By arranging songs that start with a lower BPM until you build up to a fast tempo, you also create a structure for your daily broadcast.

Again, you can use the automatic playlist feature of the Radio Manager to create your playlists according to the BPM of your music:

radio playlists

radio playlists

Take your listeners’ taste into consideration

Allowing your listeners to be a part of your radio programming is essential to creating a loyal fanbase!

Play music people love

A sure way to make successful playlists for your radio station is to include music that you know your audience will love. But how can you find out which songs will please your listeners?

In a general matter, you can use various online sources such as Album of the Year to view scores attributed to new releases by music critics, and by listeners themselves. The higher the score, the more successful the release. You can also base your choices on the top charts for example, however, this will inevitably lead to you broadcasting popular music, which may not be the angle you’re looking for. 

RadioKing provides a simple way for you to find out precisely which songs your listeners appreciate, as well as those that are less popular with your audience. Your listeners have the possibility of voting for the tracks that they “like” and “dislike” via your:

The votes made by your listeners appear directly in your Radio Manager, under Statistics > Music. Thanks to these votes, you can see which songs your listeners love, and maintain them in your playlists. On the other hand, you’ll also see the songs that are less liked and can therefore be removed from the rotation. This is the perfect way to understand what type of music your listeners enjoy and adjust your playlists accordingly.

Take song requests

Allow your listeners to participate directly in selecting some of the songs that are broadcast on your radio station! You could have a whole playlist dedicated to listener requests for example. This content would be purely based on suggestions made by your audience.

You can use social media to gather song requests:

  • Twitter: Create a specific hashtag for this purpose and get your listeners to tweet their request with that hashtag.
  • Instagram stories: Use the “Ask me anything” feature to get your followers to submit their suggestions.
  • Facebook: Create a Facebook post and tell your audience to comment their song request directly.

If the same song suggestion appears multiple times, you can be sure that it will please multiple listeners. Not only is this a fantastic way to ensure that you broadcast content that your audience will enjoy, but it also allows them to participate in the life of your radio station. This can help create a close connection with your fans.

Help your listeners discover new music

Your listeners enjoy the same music taste as you do, which is why they choose to listen to your radio station. It’s also an occasion for you to introduce them to new music!

Educate your listeners

Of course, everyone loves to hear songs that they already know and appreciate, however, your listeners will always come back for more if you introduce them to new songs that they like. If they choose to listen to your radio, it’s probably because they like your style or taste in music. The chances are that they will enjoy what you’re offering, even if they haven’t heard it before. 

Introducing your audience to new music and artists can help set your radio apart from other stations. However, be careful not to overdo it. We suggest that you don’t play multiple “new” songs in a row, but alternate with better-known music (1 new > 3 old). People might start tuning out if they hear too much unfamiliar music in a row.

Where to discover new music/artists

Keeping an ear out for new music is an important part of having a musical online radio station. You need to ensure that you’re staying up to date with new releases and emerging artists. There are many different ways that you can discover new gems:

  • Music map: enter the name of an artist and this website will give you the names of similar artists or musicians from the same universe.
  • radiooooo.com: dive into this musical time machine to discover music from all around the world, from different time periods. 
  • Streaming platforms: platforms such as Spotify, Deezer, etc, use an algorithm to suggest music that you are likely to enjoy.
  • Audio distribution platforms: platforms such as SoundCloud, Bandcamp, etc, offer independent audio files that aren’t linked to major record labels. A great place to discover new talent.

You can check out specialized websites such as Rolling Stone top 100, or the Billboard charts for inspiration.

Go further than the music

Now that we’ve given you all of our top tips to help you create the best radio playlists for your station, we’ve got a few more secrets to share to take them to the next level:

  • Song intros/outros: Use your radio hosting skills to introduce song titles with flare! 
  • Fun facts: give quick fun facts in between tracks about various artists that you broadcast.
  • Come back strong: if you’ve just broadcast a rather boring advert or announcement, come back strong with an upbeat song.
  • Share your enthusiasm: show your listeners that you’re having a blast, and you can be sure that your positive energy will pass on to them!
  • Teasers: don’t forget to do quick teasers about the upcoming tracks or artists to keep your listeners tuned in.

Ultimately, you are the person that is best suited to know what your listeners do or do not want to hear in your radio playlists. Let us know how you create your playlists in the comments below!

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