Once upon a time, there was a great philosopher. Her name? Madonna.  Before she began seemingly hobbling down flights of makeshift stairs on one of the world’s grandest stages, the Super Bowl, she lyrically declared: “Music makes the people come together.”

Well, ain’t THAT the truth?

With the sophistication of technology, the modern versions of the “Blue Lights In The Basement” parties have encountered a comeuppance. Though very little will likely ever replace an actual DJ on the 1s and 2s, our ability to craft our very own occasion-centric playlists from applications like iTunes, Pandora or Spotify lend a branded ambiance to whatever the occasion might be.

Having friends over for weekend brunch? Need a little Hump Day inspiration in your office to carry you to the other side? Grab your laptop, MP3 player and/or a nice set of speakers and consider the following tips:

Consider your audience (and it might just be a playlist that is designed to self-motivate).  If your guests vary in age, make selections that speak to everyone. There’s very little more satisfying than seeing someone’s eyes light up when as “their” song begins to play.

Go against the grain. Mix in a little Fela between traditional pop or R&B. Having the girls over for a cocktail party? Some of country trio, The Dixie Chicks’ anthems also scream “I am woman. Hear me roar!” just the same as Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable.”

Keep your ears primed for new music at all times. As you enjoy Pandora’s channels created specifically for your taste in music, make note of the songs that you enjoy and add them to your library for future use.

Just do it. Create lists. Legions of them even. As a novice DJ of sorts, you should ready on-demand playlists for a cocktail party, holiday party (“Monster Mash”, anyone?), jazz brunch, dinner party, family reunion, college friends’ gathering…and the list goes on and on. Challenge yourself to build a playlist per week that is, for example, event/genre/period-specific and can be pulled from your hat at any given soiree.

Let the music play on, and have a dance for me!

Shameeka Ayers is an Atlanta-based lifestyle blogger and author who dispenses entertaining, shelter and food & wine anecdotes and advice via her alter ego, The Broke Socialite. She also produces a national tour of curated dessert-tasting experiences, Sugar Coma Events™.  Her first novella, Instantly: How Quickly I Realized I Hate My Job will be published in 2012.