Organising Your Music Collection

I’m currently trying to organise my mp3 collection for the umpteenth time. The prior attempts always tried to include every track I own, but this time I am concentrating on creating a smaller library with just the good albums and EPs I own –  making sure they are consistently tagged (with album art) using a program called mp3tag.

I’m using iTunes this time, as it has the nicest user interface of all the media players I’ve tried. I’ve not used it properly before so any tips on getting the most out of it are welcomed. I don’t sync with an external device or use the shop. I also don’t let iTunes organise my files. I have a folder set up as follows

artist / year – album / artist – title

This is all simple, of course, but things get complicated once the albums are organised and I move on to individual tracks, compilations and dj mixes. I don’t want a library full of incomplete albums and singles/remixes, so I was planning a second library (apparently iTunes supports this). Sorting by genre seems the most sensible idea, but I did start that before with Windows folders and it was a real drag (literally). Until now my music has always been organised and browsed in Windows Explorer, but I’m starting to think it’s time to change.

I like this suggestion from the Serato community. It’s geared toward hip hop DJs but I think the system could be very versatile. It’s basically just self-generated ID codes inside the ID3 tags, but it allows you the freedom to assign multiple genres to one track, as well as any other information you want.

There’s also a very good read on digital music organisation here. It’s kinda long, in 5 parts, but definitely interesting. Make sure your read the comments on each article too.

I guess what it boils down to is how do you listen to your music collection, and how can you best organise it in order to get the most from it. At the moment, my listening is definitely skewed toward full albums, due to everything else being unorganised and inconsistently tagged.

How do you tag /organise / listen and how does it work for you?


8 Comments Add yours

  1. stevenger says:

    I find as a perennial computer user, any time your PC/player/whatever tries to do something for you “to make things simpler” it’s always useless, fiddly, entirely counter to how you want things done. Please stop trying to help me, software.


    1. stevenger says:

      Follow-up: most of my music is stored on my desktop/external drive, so I’m just as divorced from it by relying on the laptop/mobile as I was when it was solely on CDs in my metaphorical loft. To answer yr actual question though, I’m good with folder names vaguely representing the band + album with as little whitespace as possible.


  2. acidbearboy says:

    Old school, as anticipated. So you’re still using Windows Explorer for browsing and the media player strictly for playing?


    1. stevenger says:

      Worse, VLC (which is naff for music). Got an ooold version of WinAmp on the desktop PC which knows where everything is, but never bothered with rating stuff, turned off stat tracking I think, barely touched playlists except for burning CDs, etc.

      So yeah, super oldschool. Liked the [tagging] article one I got round to reading it, btw!


  3. acidbearboy says:

    Never really got on with playlists myself, either. Used winamp a lot in the old days, then moved on to foobar 2000. Both were fine, but iTunes looks nice on the big screen (PC is on main TV at our house) and the lack of a proper keyboard and mouse means typing is at a minimum.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Da22 says:

    This is why I hate digital media, things get forgotten about and it’s very messy. I rarely listen to mp3’s from my pc as it’s an effort. I’d rather pick a cd off the shelf and play that, no ordering needed,its just there. One caveat to this is my ipod touch however these are played via a dock and the library is organised by artist or album which is just easy. To much choice sometimes is a bad thing, it’s like Netflix you spend half an hour trying to find something good to watch! One thing I have signed up for is Spotify as I’ve bought myself a sonos play 1, I find this intuitive and easy to use. No organisation needed. So I haven’t helped at all just moaned lol

    Liked by 1 person

  5. acidbearboy says:

    I imagine your mp3 collection would be pretty easy to organise dazz – maybe 80-90% artist albums with a few compilations and soundtracks, amiright? Spotify was in fact one of the inspirations to sort my mp3s out. It’s not perfect – by a long way – but the user interface is clear and as you say, it just works. Since organising my own files and importing to iTunes, I find myself listening to lots more albums – some stuff I’ve not heard for ages! I’d say it will be time well spent once I’m finished – currently up to K in the alphabet, or as Cypress Hill so eloquently put it “A to the mother fucking K homeboy”.


    1. stevenger says:

      Ha! Mine’s more like Sheep On Drugs: “From A to H and back again”.


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