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M3U Playlist Maker Software - Playlist Files Explained

M3U and M3U8 are handy formats for making and transferring playlists in a single file. They have many different specific use cases, but they all revolve around the same process - bundling a bunch of audio files (or playlist information) into a single file, making it easy to send from one location or app to another.

These are often used by DJs to transfer their playlists from one software to another.

There are a few different software options if you want to make M3U-type files, and some are better than others. In this guide, I'll show you the best apps for making these files, explain the step-by-step process, and explain which DJ apps and music libraries are compatible with which type.

TL;DR - M3U Playlist Software#

  • M3U is a playlist format file, which can contain all the information needed to transfer a playlist

  • Many Playlist Creator Software Apps can create and import M3U files

  • DJ.Studio is the best tool for creating M3U8 files for use in DJ set preparation

  • DJ.Studio is also capable of many more handy DJ tasks.

What are M3U and M3U8 Files? What is the Difference?#

m3u v m3u8

M3U and M3U8 are file formats commonly used for playlists. These files contain lists of multimedia files or streams, allowing media players to organize and play content in a specific order. Here's a brief overview of each format:

M3U (Moving Picture Experts Group Audio Layer 3 Uniform Resource Locator)

Despite the long name, these are a pretty simple type of file.

This is a plain text file format that specifies the locations (URLs or local file paths) of audio and video files. M3U playlists have been widely used for organizing and sharing lists of audio and video files. They can be opened and edited with a simple text editor.

So, an M3U could contain all the information your machine would need to rebuild a playlist in another software.

M3U8

M3U8 is an extension of the M3U format, and it is specifically designed for UTF-8-encoded playlists (Unicode Transformation Format 8-bit).

This technical jargon simply means that while M3U playlists can support only ASCII characters, M3U8 supports a broader range of characters, making it suitable for internationalization and the inclusion of non-Latin characters.

The image below shows an M3U8 file opened in a text editor. You can see that these files contain simple information, just showing the file location and an order.

m3u in text editor

What Software Supports M3U/M3U8?#

If you've ever tried to use this audio file type, you might have run into confusion about which software can use it - and sometimes the answers aren't very clear.

I did some research to work out which file types work with which software.

Media Players

  • VLC Media Player - Can import and export M3U and M3U8 files, as well as several other formats like PLS playlists. As free software, this is generally the best out of music players/libraries.

    VLC Media PLayer
  • Windows Media Player - Can import M3U or M3U8 playlists, but cannot create them.

    wmp
  • iTunes/Apple Music - Can import and export M3U, M3U8, XML, and other formats.

    apple music export playlist

You can find specific instructions for each around the net, but in general: right-click a playlist > select Export Playlist, or Save List As... > choose a format and click the save button.

DJ Software

dj software

When it comes to DJ software, often it depends on which version of each brand you are using (for example, some Lite versions don't have support, but Pro versions do).

Additionally, when exporting these playlists, sometimes you are given the option of including audio files in the exported folder/file. This is generally required by most DJ software.

Here are the main DJ apps and their compatibility:

  • rekordbox - Can import M3U, M3U8, and .PLS playlists. Can export M3U8 and .txt

  • Traktor - Traktor Pro 3 can import M3U (not M3U8, but you can use the workaround below). Can export M3U and NMU. Traktor 2, and 3 Lite cannot work with any playlist type.

  • Serato - Can import M3U or M3U8. Can export M3U, .txt, or .csv.

  • VirtualDJ - Can see contents of M3U and M3U8 files in the browser, but cannot do drag-and-drop playlist creation from them. Can only create .csv or .txt playlist files.

Note - Because M3U and M3U8 files are very similar, you can simply add or remove the '8' from the file extension, and it should work in your software if its only compatible with one or the other.

How To Make M3U Playlists with DJ.Studio#

dj studio carousel

DJ.Studio is one of the better DJ apps for making M3U playlists. Not only can you export these files with a click of a button (with all the extra options you need), but you can also get in deeper with your playlist and mix creation. It also has several features which makes it more closely integrated with other DJ software.

Follow these steps to make your M3U DJ playlists in DJ.Studio.

  1. Open DJ.Studio

  2. Create a new Local File project.

  3. Import audio files.

  4. Make your mix, using the automix and timeline editor to refine your mix quickly, in high detail.

  5. Click Export > DJ Set (Learn more about How To Export A Playlist).

  6. Select the options and file type as required, and save the M3U to a memorable location.

  7. Import the file into your other software!

dj studio export m3u

This process makes it super easy to create M3U playlists. It can also speed up a DJ's workflow and open more creative doors for them. You can use it to quickly make Seamless Playlists on Spotify, and Convert Playlist to MP3: With DJ.Studio.

This only scratches the surface of what DJ.Studio can do - for example, it also works as a Playlist Converter for YouTube. Make sure you explore this website to get a taste of the other powers it gives you.

Find out more Tips on How To Make A DJ Playlist!

Finally...#

dj studio export m3u8

You now have a clear understanding of what M3U and M3U8 files are, what software works with them, and how you can make them.

With this knowledge under your belt, you'll have no trouble making playlists and transferring them from place to place.

If you want to improve the quality of your playlists, DJ.Studio is the only way to go. Find out more information about our app around the website, or check it out yourself with the Free 14 Day Trial!

Noah Feasey-Kemp
DJ/Producer
I started DJing when I was 15. Started a record label, residency by a club in Bristol. I’ve played at all the biggest clubs in Bristol (and the small ones) and have entertained thousands of dancers! I love writing about music, DJing, and technology. I've been blogging for DJ.Studio since the start of the project, and am always happy to answer questions and help fellow DJs out!

FAQs About M3U Playlist Creator Software

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