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.
Step 1: Choose a Service
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.
Step 2: Embed the Playlist
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.
- For You Tube, use the “Share” button below a playlist and copy the embed code. It’s explained step by step here.
- Vimeo embed instructions are here.
- Spotify playlist embedding instructions are here.
- Playlist.com embed instructions are here.
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.
Step 3: Play away!
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.