Remember back in the day when you made a mixtape for a good friend, a long car ride, or a guy you liked? It was our way of personally selecting songs with meaning that told one larger story. Now it’s all digital when we make playlists. That means we can share our playlists with many more people and we have so many more options for creating playlists.
For authors, playlists are a fantastic tool to offer an “extra” to readers on their blog or website. Extras are one way to engage the reader and hopefully keep them coming back to visit.
Writers like to listen to music. Sometimes we refer to it heavily in our stories. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could offer readers a whole list of the songs we were listening to while we wrote? They’re like a mini-album of our novels and it’s uniquely yours to offer. Or, maybe there are songs your character sang or was inspired by or quoted. You can offer readers a special holiday playlist, a book-by-book playlist, or even a character playlist. The possibilities are endless.
Okay, so now you know playlists are fun to offer—so let’s get to how you offer them. You might be worrying that you need to know coding, and you’re right this minute starting to sweat. Nope, it’s much easier than that. I’m here to give you a few things to think about and a few solutions, which I’ve gleaned from trial and error.
A word of warning…
Before we get started, I want to make the important point that music should not play automatically on your website or blog. When my company designs websites for authors (http://www.wordpressbusinesswebsites.com/author-website-design/), authors will sometimes ask for auto-play and we educate them on why it's a major design sin.
Auto-start music is a huge turn off to visitors, and even if you think your website won’t be the same if people don’t hear it as well as see it, please don’t. I promise you that no one wants to hear your music without permission. Some people have their speakers turned way loud, are in a public place, or at work. Or they will hate what you play. Please trust me on this.
So let’s get to it. There are a few different ways to implement a playlist, and there are pros and cons with each. I’m going to cover some of the more obvious (and easy) ways of getting music on your site.
1. Upload the music yourself
This is a relatively easy thing to do, but I don’t recommend it and I’m not even going to describe how to do it. The reason? You’d be providing free files of music and you legally don’t want to go there. Uploading your own files would work if you’re a musician and the music is yours – but that sort of defeats the point of a playlist. So let’s cross this one off and look at legal ways.
2. Stream from You Tube or Vimeo
You Tube is great – you can create a playlist and it’s fast, and you can easily embed them on your page or blog by using their embed code. Personally, I prefer it because it’s easy. Vimeo also offers this. But be warned-- if the owner of the song removes the video from You Tube, then it goes from your playlist, too. Check it periodically.
3. Set up a Spotify list
Spotify isn’t, I’ll admit, the easiest thing to work with when selecting a playlist. But the actual playlist on a website is nice looking and friendly to users. And Spotify pays royalties to the musicians and in this fast world of ripping stuff, that’s admirable. Check out how author Roni Loren does it here.
4. Use Playlist.com
Playlist.com is “commercial –free radio.” Like You Tube, it’s not perfect. It has its share of broken links. But it’s free and easy. You can get it here.
With all of the above methods, you’ll need to embed the playlist into your HTML. Don’t run screaming. This isn’t real coding. This is just copy and paste. Are you still with me?
Depending on how your blog or website is set up, you’ll need to access the code view –except for Blogger blogs. (For Blogger, see below.) For WordPress, click over to the Text view and paste in the code from your playlist provider.
Note: If you have a Blogger blog, you can add a Playlist.com list via a widget. Go to Design, then Edit Layout, and then click Add a Gadget anywhere in your blog layout. Type "playlist" in the search field. You will need your Playlist.com number in order to connect it.
Remember, make sure that any service you use doesn’t play the songs automatically on the page and that you enjoy the process of making a playlist with the service. Good luck and have fun putting together songs!
(And if you want to see how the You Tube playlist looks embedded, check my master writing playlist out here.)
So what do you think? Do you use playlists when you write?
Do you want to share?
Sierra writes fiction that features strong heroines who grow from the challenges they face and always get the guy in the end. A graphic designer by day, she lives in the swampy yet arid wastelands of the San Francisco Bay Area with her family. She has zero will power when it comes to chocolate. In fact, she is the inventor of mix-less trail mix -- just leave the chocolate chips.
You can find more of her sass at www.sierragodfrey.com.
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Sierra, I am not sure about adding a fixed playlist, but I frequently either add a You Tube recording to my posts or several times a year, connect You Tube recordings as links in a theme chain. You Tube on Word Press gives the reader the option to click on the link or not . I truly do not like auto play music when I visit a web site or blog. Thanks for the tips on adding music to the words 🙂 BTW ... your list of music s quite "interesting."
Hi there -- the instructions above are for adding a fixed playlist but you can add a single song easily too with You Tube and Vimeo with the same general embed instruction -- just from a single song rather than the playlist itself.
Wouldn't it be cool to add a year-end post with a playlist of all your You Tube songs that you put in posts throughout the year?
Thanks, Sierra ... that's a good idea I will file away for the end of this year 🙂
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I use playlists and I try to mix in music from the era, so it's a discombobulated mess. And I totally agree...autoplay is a no no.
Fantastic post, Sierra! I just shared it widely. 🙂 I agree that very few authors incorporate music better than Roni Loren, and it really helps her connect with readers. It also adds a hip edge to her author brand.
Thank Jenny and you're right! Roni does it well. I would be amiss if I didn't admit here that I've asked Roni about playlists over the years!
This is new news for me. I really like the idea.
I'm so glad, Sharla. I hope this opens up a whole new bag of ideas for "author extras"!
Great post, Sierra! I love when I come across a playlist in a book or when an author has something on their website.
I rarely listen to music when I write though. Once in a while classical or jazz. In one of my manuscripts, the mc had a thing for jazz trumpet - if I was stuck on a scene I'd get Chris Botti to help out a bit. 😉 But most of the time, the only sounds are the snoring cats and me muttering things to my characters.
Well, a You Tube playlist of cat videos wouldn't be amiss then 🙂
Am I the only writer that can't listen to music while I write?Pretty soon I am off in the music instead of in my story.
Luanne, you're not alone. I can listen to Classical, but that's it. Any words and I'm gone...
Word, too, are so distracting from the words I'm trying to form in my head!
No, I don't listen to music. I write mostly historicals and find modern music distracting. I once tried music from old western movies. Didn't work either.
That's a good point--that the music doesn't mix well with the subject matter.
Nope, I don't listen to music either, Luanne. It clashes with the stream of thought running through my fingers.
Exactly! I am always surprised when people find it helpful, but many do!
I love your suggestion Sierra! I think that may just give my website a little kick in gear! Thank you! 🙂
Interesting idea...glad you made the point that no one likes to be subjected to music without warning or consent.