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My husband says I'm anal about the way I organize my music collections. I have them organized in 5 different categories based on my music interests. I then put them all in alphabetical order by artist then title. My five categories are Rock, Country, Childrens, Christmas, and other. My other contains mostly compilations, for example, one CD is Traditional Wedding Music.
By Brandy J. from Bowling Green, MO
Organizing your music collection depends on the type of collection that you have. If you're dealing with CDs then your best bet is to organize by genre. Try not to get too carried away with genre, either. Although you can have sub-genres within genres (and even sub-genres within sub-genres) you want to keep it as simple as possible.
For instance, while you might want to separate mainstream country from Americana, you don't necessarily have to break it down into Cowpunk, Grungegrass, Rockabilly, Texas Country, and so on. On the other hand, if you have 20 CDs that would be considered Deathcountry and another 46 that would be considered Psychobilly, yet you only have 3 CDs that would even be considered outside of the Americana genre altogether then breaking down that genre into the different sub-genres would make more organizational sense.
You might also want to consider organizing your music by time period. For example, current pop might be separated from 80's pop and 90's pop. Modern country might be separated from classic country.
The organization itself should really depend on how much of one genre that you have. Having lots of different categories makes more sense if you possess a lot of CDs that are all across the board.
When it comes to your digital music files then you want to use the same idea, only you'll want to apply the organization to your tags. It's important to tag your songs and collections as soon as you download or copy them. Figure out which tags work best for you (heavy metal bluegrass, instrumental music, British pop, modern flamenco, etc.) and stick with those. If you're able to add more than one tag then do this but make sure that you remember the different categories that you are using. Some people use Grungegrass and heavy metal bluegrass to mean the same thing so you don't want to use both terms interchangeably, find one you like and stick to it.
Even if you download 100 songs in a day, take the time to tag all of them. In the long run, you'll appreciate the extra time you spent doing it. It's easier to tag 100 songs at once then it is to tag 5,000 songs later on.
I have well over 100,000 digital recordings. I can't see the benefit of tagging them. I went through a 'tagging' period. I also made icons for each artist's name and a thumbnail picture for each artist's folder. I downloaded three different tagging software to add all sorts of meta data to each file. All these things consumed a lot of time and didn't help me enjoy the music any more.
Here is how I organize my digital music:
Each artist has his/her own folder, and those folders are arranged in alphabetical order. With exceptions, all music by a single artist goes in one folder. It's not important to me whether a song was on this or that album, or whether it was recorded in 1998 or 2004.
Some of my exceptions include a change of style. I separate 'Early Marty Robbins' from Marty Robbins. I do this because his style was very different during his early years of recording. He also did an album of romantic mood music, which is totally uncountry. I separate that, as well.
Another exception is special recordings and seasonal music. All my Johnny Mathis music is in one folder, with the exception of his Christmas albums which get their own sub folder.
I know my music. Rimsky-Korsakov is placed after Ricky Nelson and before Roberta Flack. I know he was a classical composer, and when I want to hear 'Scheherazade', I don't have to rummage through a 'Classical' folder to find him.
The first picture shows how my music collection used to look. (You'll have to imagine each folder closed and a picture of the artist on each folder). It took a while to scroll down to what I wanted.
In the second picture, the view has been changed to 'Details'. I can find what I want almost instantly.
When you are in the mood for a particular type of music, don't forget 'Search'. As shown in picture three, I have brought up every song with Blue(s) in the title, regardless who is the artist. I can now hit the 'Play All' button and listen to every one, or I can highlight certain ones and drag the lot into a player and listen to just those few.
If you have songs by different artists which you would like to group together for an evening of listening, make 'Play Lists'. Most media players including Windows Media Player and my two, free favorites, VLC and Media Player Classic, give you the option of making Play Lists. They can be kept for playing at any time. These playlists are just short cuts to the actual music. You wont be making copies which take up precious hard drive space.
I could give you many more tips on your digital music collection, but I will leave you with this important note. If you truly value your music collection, and all other documents and files stored on your computer, please invest in an external hard drive to back up these files. External hard drives are better and cheaper now, than they ever have been. Once your computer's hard drive dies, all on it is lost forever. I've read that there are specialists who sometimes can recover data from dead hard drives. Their fees can be around $20,000. Makes a $100.00 external hard drive sound real affordable, doesn't it?
Ever wonder how to re-use the containers that you buy your CDs or DVDs in? Well, we use them to hold our music CDs, instead of going out and buying a CD case of some sort!