How do you organize your Music?

Tips and techniques of the trade

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morte100
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How do you organize your Music?

#1 Post by morte100 » Mon Apr 21, 2003 1:19 pm

There are those gifted with the mental capacity to remember song titles, album names, artists, bpm's, etc. and DJ from their collection without aid beyond their own brains. I am not one of those. I'm about to change my format for organizing music for the millionth time, and I thought I'd seek out suggestions.

I DJ from CD's but I also have all my songs in MP3's on my PC. I use musicmatch, so some of my categories evolved from those suggested my the MM tagging system. I use the following:
Track Title
Artist
Album
Genre (i.e. Classical, Pop, Hip Hop, RnB, Blues, Jazz-Classic, Jazz-Modern, Jazz-Smooth, Jazz-Lounge, etc.)
Preference (i.e. Poor, Fair, Good, Very Good, Excellent)
Tempo (in beats per minute)
Mood (referring to the energy level of the song - High, Med. or Low)
Situation (balboa, groovy, lindy, charleston, etc)

The part that I'm probably going to refine is Genre and Situation to make sure that the two categories are more distinct. I'm djing more right now, and I'm learning more about the kind of information I want to have at hand when I dj.

Soooo...with all the DJ experience on this board, I'm curious - What system do you all use to organize your music?

_david
Last edited by morte100 on Tue Apr 22, 2003 3:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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yedancer
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#2 Post by yedancer » Mon Apr 21, 2003 1:38 pm

When I started, I just organized all my CDs alphabetically. Now, I don't organize them at all. I pull out a CD, play it, and put the CD I just played in it's place. That way, the organization of my collection is constantly changing. This makes DJing very chaotic and and spontaneous. The good thing is that I don't get stuck playing the same stuff in the same order all the time. The bad thing is that half the time, I can't find the CD I'm looking for. One of these days I'll organize it all. Maybe.
-Jeremy

It's easy to sit there and say you'd like to have more money. And I guess that's what I like about it. It's easy. Just sitting there, rocking back and forth, wanting that money.

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Lawrence
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#3 Post by Lawrence » Mon Apr 21, 2003 3:21 pm

I keep my original CDs alphabetical with all genres together for simplicity. All "swing" stuff together. I thought about segmenting it into genres, but doing so is too sloppy, especially with artists playing multiple genres on certain CDs. I also do have seperate Non-danceable "Jazz" and Non-danceable "Blues" books, but I'm finding that as my perception of what is "danceable" evolves, the lines between those books blur if not disappear. For instance, when I first started DJing years ago during the fad when I was focused on Big Band Swing Era stuff (1996-97), I had all my Oscar Peterson in my "Non-danceable Jazz" books alongside Coltrane and Rollins. Then we slowly realized we COULD dance to it even though the rhythm didn't knock us squarely over the head, and it became some of my favorite dance music and hopped over.

As for my DJ book (all burned CD-Rs), I have found that any purely systematic method will also have shortcomings or will become outdated as my collection grows. Moreover, there is no substitute for really knowing your collection, no matter how much disarray it is in.

Nonetheless, in order to make things easier to find. I try to organize my DJ CDs by genre, then by artist. Keeping track by artist, alone, was not useful enough: genres make it easier to DJ in those "mini-sets" and keep a good flow going. Keeping in mind the evolution of dance tastes, I also consciously try to re-organize every so often, which throws me off for a few weeks, but not horribly so.

Compilation CDs with more than one style of music go at the end of the book. I just remember where they are.

It also depends on the system you use to store your music. I would suspect that the best advantage of going all-laptop is that you can not only use multiple categorizations, but also throw different songs by the same artists into different categories. Ellington did some pure Jump Blues tunes, but I would never put an entire Ellington compilation CD in the Jump Blues section. I also would not want to keep the Jump Blues tunes completely seperate from the rest of my Ellington book. Breaking it down into songs would allow those Ellington Jump Blues songs to go into the Jump Blues folder/index, while also remaining in the "Ellington" folder/index.
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http://www.AustinLindy.com

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morte100
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#4 Post by morte100 » Mon Apr 21, 2003 3:43 pm

Lawrence wrote:Moreover, there is no substitute for really knowing your collection
So, you're saying I need to develop that whole memory thing, eh? Maybe ginseng or GinkoBalboa?

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#5 Post by GemZombie » Mon Apr 21, 2003 5:05 pm

In my CD Case I have them organized alphabetically by first name.

But all my CDs are in sleeves, and i have color codes on the sleeves that represent: Classic Swing, R&B (Jump Blues etc), New Bands, Neo, Modern Big Bands, and "Collections".

I pretty much keep my electronic organization the same way.

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#6 Post by main_stem » Mon Apr 21, 2003 7:37 pm

Currently I have them all organized alphabetically. However I am in the process of reorganizing my main case into classic swign era artists, post swingera and compilations. For my smaller travel book I'm going to keep them in alpahabetical order since it's a much smaller book and easier to control.

Regardless, it's still no substitute for knowing your collection.

-Kevin
"We called it music."
— Eddie Condon

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#7 Post by Roy » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:13 am

I have 5 seperate small CD cases 3 of them are listed alphabeticly. 2 are not.

I have one CD case for stuff I play allot
1 for CD compilations
1 for brand new stuff-non alphebtical just thrown in in the order I bought it
1 for stuff I play a little
1 for stuff I would never consider playing


About every 3 months I go in and move CD's between cases.
The first 3 CD cases listed above I usaully bring everywhere I DJ. Case number 4 I play if I am going to DJ many hours or I am not sure what the crowd is going to be like. I need more diverstiy.
My 5th CD case I never bring anywhere.

Each CD has marking on it. All songs that I consider good dance songs are highlighted. Then I mark a tempo range for each highlighted song S, M, F, VF. Slow for under 120, no mark is 120-150, M is 150-175, F 175-210, VF 210+. I also mark some song styles B for Blues, BW for boogie woogie, W for western sound, L for Lounge, I don't mark groove, main stream, small combo jazz of big band. I mark these particular because I don't play them as much hence I am not as familiar with the songs. I also mark how well Lindy Hoppers usually respond to a song by either nothing, + for usually having a good response , ++ for usually having a great response. I also mark sone songs as GE for good energy. This is for a song who's energy is pumping beyond the tempo. I try and keep the crowd up with high enery and then bring them down instead of concentration on tempos so much. I am also starting to add a FO for songs that have there own fade out at the end. I do not want to play too many of these songs in a night.

My system allows me to DJ all my music blind. That is I do not need to hear the next song prior to playing it. And it allows me to keep the music energy nice and diverse, not choppy between wide veriances in song energy or style. Of course I am not perfect and can remember some bad nights where things just didn't seem to work. But experience brings inprovement.

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Ron
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#8 Post by Ron » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:32 am

GemZombie wrote:In my CD Case I have them organized alphabetically by first name.
Thats bizarre! So do you file Basie under "Count" or "Bill" or "William"?

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Ron
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#9 Post by Ron » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:42 am

I DJ exclusively from compilations now, and I make a new one every month or so. The CDs I make I label "New and Featured for Apr03" for example, with the new songs I've gotten recently, and some other songs I want to feature that month. I have an index I created last year that I need to update soon, because I only remember my last few CDs.

On my 120 GB hard drive, I keep all the songs I've burned onto any compilation in .WAV. I organize them in these folders: Big Band, Modern Jazz Instrumentals, Jazz Vocals, Modern Pop, 50's R&B and R&R, Traditional Pop, Unexpected Swing, Slow Blues, Funky non-swing, and a few other minor categories.

Of course, its still hard to find songs: now did I put that Lavay song in Jazz Vocals or Modern Pop? (I chose Jazz Vocals), etc. And where the hell should I file Slim Gaillard?

If I lose things on my hard drive, there's always the windows search feature, which I frequently use.

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#10 Post by Nate Dogg » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:51 am

For anything that I might play.

For original Cds, I keep them in three ring binder CD books, sorted by last name with compilations and soundtracks at the back. The jewel cases, liner notes, etc... are not kept in the binders, they are in boxes in a storage room. I print copies of the track listing. I do this to keep the binder from streching to much and I do it for security reasons as well. The original books rarely leave the house. I am very concerned about potential theft. I learned that another Texas DJ lost his CDs recently, so it is not idle concern.

I have a separate book for burned compilations. I mostly DJ off compilations that I make. I log all my compilations into a Filemaker database. I print reports occasionally that sort the compilation songs a variety of ways (title-artist; artist-title; etc..).

I back up any MP3 I have onto CD, those are kept in additional three ring CD binders.

The rest of my CDs are on bookcases in a separate room in their original cases. Sorted the same way.

Of course, you have to make judgement calls, where do you put Ella/Louis for example (under Fitzgerald or Armstrong). There really is no right answer to such a question (even though I would not be surprised if somebody tries to tell me otherwise).

Nathan
Last edited by Nate Dogg on Tue Apr 22, 2003 12:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#11 Post by mark0tz » Tue Apr 22, 2003 12:02 pm

haha, I spent 3 hours last night (and several more the night before) just archiving my CD's onto burnt copies and putting the originals back in their original cases (or whatever cases I have for them). Ron, your method sounds like a good one and maybe someday if I can ever get organized I'll give that a try.

Rayned does something similar around here with compilations. No-way-no-how would I have enough harddrive space to save those files as .wav's; I'm getting low on space now with 100gigs of mp3s. Someday I'll get to the point of making compilations and cutting the fat out... right now there's a lot of fat on my harddrive (songs that aren't danceable, but are on a CD with danceable songs).

I also like the color codings to separate the genres.

Currently, I just have my books loosely organized by genre and then artist. I know where pretty much everything is. Next step is to begin making compilations... That is after I have everything archived.
Mike Marcotte

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#12 Post by GemZombie » Tue Apr 22, 2003 1:19 pm

Ron wrote:
GemZombie wrote:In my CD Case I have them organized alphabetically by first name.
Thats bizarre! So do you file Basie under "Count" or "Bill" or "William"?
Count.

I know it's weird, but it works for me. I think I just like having Artie Shaw towards the front of my collection. :D

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#13 Post by Platypus » Tue Apr 22, 2003 2:01 pm

One set of 3 ring binders with artists alphabetically by last name. ANother binder with compilations. Then, I have a smaller CD case that I take to gigs, with my burned compilations and new CDs that I want to feature, but haven't burned yet. That way, I won't worry as much about having my small case stolen (Which DID happen to another local DJ).

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#14 Post by Greg Avakian » Tue Apr 22, 2003 11:04 pm

In my book I have several sections
Compilations
Female vocals
'Groove' bigger bands
R&B/Jump blues
Modern bands (some immitaors, some neo, R&R)
Groove
Blues/R&B
Vintage
Westie stuff

catagories I like would also include:
Swingin' blues
Gospel swing
Big band blues
Vintage small groups
Male vocals
'Commercial' Swing -all the songs you love to hate; like "In the mood" by GM, although I would a lot of stuff I don't like (but that might be requested)

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Ron
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#15 Post by Ron » Wed Apr 23, 2003 10:58 am

Greg-
What are examples of "Groove" bigger bands, vs groove?

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