In this day and age, the majority of DJs rely completely on files and computers to store their music, so it is vital to understand how best to organize them. Check out these 10 tips for organizing your music library.
1. Have a system, any system!
As you will see in this article there are many options when it comes to organizing music. But even if you don’t use any of them, just make sure that whatever you do is absolutely consistent.
2. Divide your collection in a way that makes sense to you
This sounds obvious, but ‘you’ really is the operative word here. It’s all too easy to divide music by date or genre because you see music divided like that elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right system for you. The ‘’right’ system is one that works at the spur of the moment when you’re DJing.
You’d be amazed how organized something can look at home on your computer, but is no use at all when you’re playing a gig. So think of the things you need to do when you’re DJing, like stepping it up a bit, or keeping things chilled for a while. Your collection should be divided in a way that means you can adjust to these needs easily. That might be done by using date, genre or a combination of both, but always remember that no one else is looking at your collection. If it makes sense to you then it makes sense.
3. Don’t be afraid to save creative concepts
As well as organizing your files, you can use playlists to save what you’ve learned in practice. Let’s say you nailed an hour-long mix at home where every track worked well together… well, just save that as a playlist somewhere.
4. Don’t duplicate an existing filing system
If you’re exclusively using Serato or Traktor for example, there’s no point meticulously saving your files into folders labelled ‘2016’ or ‘New Music’. If you want to find music from that time period, you can just click the date filters inside the software.
5. ID3 tags are king
If you’re using mp3s, the actual name of the music file is not particularly important. If you think about it, you don’t actually DJ by looking through the folders on your computer - you use another piece of software that understands your music by its ID3 tags. It’s easy to neglect these but they’re vital when it comes to sorting through your collection. So make sure each piece of music you own is properly tagged. Editing tags differ depending on the software you use, but it is always very straight forward.
6. Understand the limitations of your equipment
If you’re using CDJ2000s, the readout is a lot smaller than the computer screen you will have used to organize your files in the first place. Don’t get too comfortable with advanced sorting features that you might not be able to use in a live setting.
7. Do not underestimate drag & drop
Yep, good old fashioned drag & drop can often work when transferring music/playlists between different pieces of software. If you want to move a batch of tracks from a playlist in Serato to Rekordbox for example, you won’t need to go through the hassle of saving and importing playlists. Just load them both up and drag them across. This works across most packages.
8. Consider using software add ons
If you have a folder structure that you really want to stick to and you are infuriated that whenever you add some new files to your old folders, Serato or Traktor doesn’t recognize them… well… fear not! There are packages out there that can help with this. Alchimie Zinc is one piece of software that does this (see screenshot below)
9. Question your hold habits
Just because you had a filing system that worked ten years ago doesn’t mean you should move hell or high water to make that system work with whatever software you’re using now. Sometimes, allowing the software to dictate how you sort your music is the best way.
10. Be wary of updates
Make sure you back up your system before doing an update. A recent Itunes update meant that all Itunes playlists were no longer recognized by Rekordbox, for example.