An important thing to achieve a flawless DJ set is to organize your music collection well.
If you are diligent – for example, giving clear names and organizing files in folders – you will find the right songs much easier. This way you will transition between songs faster. So it’s time to organize all your music!
In this article, we’ll give tips to beginner DJs on managing a digital music library.
First Step: Creation Of a File
First of all, it is important to clarify that this article is limited to digital music, as vinyls can be arranged in many ways and they are used a little less nowadays.
Nowadays, it is more common to have music in digital format. This is a quicker and easier solution to obtain than going to a record store. The very first step is therefore to create a folder on your computer (possibly with sub-folders) and to gather all your music there.
This way, you have everything centralized and you can work more easily. No matter the size of your library, small or large, this is a tedious job that will never be finished.
With Or Without “DJ”?
By having all your music gathered in the same folder, you will immediately notice small problems.
For example, if you have songs with names like 01. Infinity or _._ You_Will_Never_Walk_Alone _-_ Josh_Groban_ (remix) _ [explicit], you will understand then that the search for an artist or a title becomes quite difficult because you can have several songs bearing the title “Infinity” or 50 remixes of “You’ll Never Walk Alone“.
Your first priority is therefore to name all your music in the same way. For example, always starting with the name of the artist followed by the title of the song (Artist – Title).
You will encounter another issue regarding the spelling of artist names. Is it “DJ Hardwell” or just “Hardwell” and do you write “Tupac” or “2Pac“?
The most important thing is to keep constant, if you choose Hardwell (without DJ) always use this spelling for all his songs.
Collaborations or featuring (feat, ft…) also bring a new problem: what name to give them?
To stay consistent, it’s best to place the collaborator’s name after the artist’s name, like this: DJ Bob Sinclar feat. Salomé de Bahia (of course you can replace feat by ft. Or &). This is a fairly superficial and simple first way to bring order to the chaos of your music library.
It’s also possible to organize your music in even more detail by modifying the metadata, also known as tags or tags. On Windows PCs, you can edit them by right-clicking on a song, then going to Properties and entering all the necessary information in the Details tab.
With Apple computers, right-click on the song and go to Get Info, and fill in the boxes. If you have tracks that you don’t know what albums they belong to, search the internet, or using a site like discogs.com.
Other information such as the year of release, associated artists can be found here as well as the genre. You can choose a very broad genre like Dance or more specifically like Tropical Deep House Music Chill Out.
Folder And Sub-Folders
For your DJ sets, it’s normal not to want to take all the music you’ve saved on your laptop over the years with you.
You can select which ones you will probably use by putting them on USB keys that you then connect to the drives available on site. However, these are not always equipped with a keyboard, so you are at the mercy of the navigation buttons at your disposal.
If you have to browse 1,500 songs to find the right one, you’re not done! So it is better to already create folders from your bulk playlist. Suppose you have whole albums, you can put them in a folder all at once (with the name Albums).
If you have also digitized a whole series of albums you have at home on CD. You can then create separate folders for CD albums and albums downloaded in MP3. It may also be more convenient to place singles or individual songs in a Singles folder (possibly separating those on CD and MP3s).
In these folders, you can also make a distinction by artist, year of release, album, genre… Now you can (finally) use your DJ software. Many programs offer the ability to copy your entire library at once, including your subdivision into folders.
All your music will therefore be well organized in Serato / Rekordbox / Traktor / Djay / Engine Prime and in much other software.
Once your music is transferred to your software, the software usually starts to analyze all your songs automatically.
Essential information such as BPM and tone are added. You’ve probably spent several hours organizing your songs already, so it’s nice that the software does it for you.
However, although the analysis becomes more and more precise, errors can occur. After the automatic analysis, check the information obtained and that your beatgrid (i.e. the lines that indicate where the beats are in a measure) are correct and that everything is at the correct tempo.
If you’re smart, it’s best to immediately put hot cues and other edits on so you don’t have to go through all of your music a second time.
When Can I Do All This?
Of course, you lead a busy life and have obligations, so when can you find the time to do all of that? As soon as you have a minute, spend it doing a simple analysis of your music.
To do this, it is not necessary to always have your computer with you, it is possible to use your smartphone.
For example, rate your music: five stars for a hit, one star for a song you wouldn’t even play at a funeral. You can also create playlists based on a musical style.
Some software applications also allow you to create cues and loops! The advantage of working this way is that you get to know your playlist inside out. After a while, you will hear transitions.
Here are the steps to organize your music library:
- Gather all your music in one folder
- Name your songs correctly and consistently, including metadata
- Create clear subfolders
- Check the automatic analysis of your DJ software (beatgrid, BPM)
- Create cues, loops, and other edits
- Continue to listen and group your music!
You might be interested in: