There are few things more hotly debated at a Fourth of July get-together than the event’s playlist, and who should be in charge of it. A party soundtrack is an important responsibility and one some people simply can’t be trusted to handle. (Look, we all have our strengths and shortcomings.) I found this out the hard way over the holiday weekend, when a friend kept shouting “Alexa, play ‘Despacito’” at her barbecue... five times in a row. That was followed by a family boat ride where my mom decided to abruptly ruin each song by cutting them short. Mom also bafflingly put on Boyz II Men’s “I’ll Make Love to You” as the fireworks started later that evening. (If you’re reading this mom I love you, but your playlist duties are revoked!)
Simply put, there’s a better way to democratically maintain your event’s vibe rather than just switching who’s in control of the Bluetooth, having a tipsy aux cord battle, or who can yell the loudest at Alexa or Google Home. In particular, both Spotify and Apple Music offer ways for multiple people to pitch in and share playlist duties on the fly, ensuring everyone gets to put their flavor on the party.
There are two options for teaming up on playlists with Spotify. One is the traditional collaborative playlist, and the other is Playlist Potluck.
To turn collaboration on for a playlist on desktop, right click (or Ctrl-click on Mac) the playlist in the left hand column and select Collaborative Playlist. If the playlist is currently playing, you can also select Collaborative Playlist by clicking on the three dots icon next to the play button in Spotify’s main screen.
On mobile, select the playlist you want to share, then click on the three dots in the top right of the screen to select Make Collaborative.
You can now copy the link to the playlist and send it to friends. When a friend clicks on the link, it will open in Spotify and anyone with access can not only alter the playlist, but also pass the link on to others. All changes will appear on everyone’s screens instantly, and collaborative playlists will be identified by a hollow circle icon next to the playlist’s name.
There’s isn’t a way to only give specific users access, but you can always turn off the playlist’s collaboration the same way you turned it on. (People with the link will still be able to view and play the list, they just won’t be able to alter it.)
Playlist Potluck is a collaborative feature launched with Sonos as part of a promotional campaign. The difference with Playlist Potluck is that it encourages playlist creation ahead of the event, essentially making it part of the invitation. To initially set up the playlist on the Sonos website you’ll have to authorize Sonos Playlist Potluck to access your Spotify data, give some personal information like location and age, and then agree to terms and service.
Once this is done, you’re given a link which can be shared with guests. When clicked, people are taken to a landing page where they can log into their Spotify and add a maximum of five songs. A section at the bottom of the page also shows recommended songs to add based on what’s currently in the playlist.
While there’s currently no way to collaborate on Apple Music playlists (this will be coming in the fall with iOS 11), there is a way to share your playlists with others.
On desktop, open a playlist, then right click anywhere or click the three dot icon and select Share Playlist. From there you can share the playlist directly to Twitter, Facebook, or Messages, or copy the link to share in another manner of your choosing.
On mobile, tap the icon with the three dots at the top of the playlist to select Share Playlist. Again, you can now share the playlist directly to a number of sharing services enabled on your phone or copy the link.
Any changes you make on shared playlists will show up wherever it is shared. To make the playlist private again, select Stop Sharing under Share Playlist on desktop, and on mobile, tap the Edit button at the top of the playlist, then toggle Shared Playlist to off.
So, with Apple Music, while multiple people can’t change the same playlist, a host could aggregate playlists from multiple guests on a single device.
Congrats, you should now be armed with the tools to make sure the music at your Fourth of July party is a vibe enjoyed by all. Sharing is caring, y’all.