Your Questions: How Do I Organise My Music Better in Traktor?

With all its other features, there's little physical room for browsing and sorting music in Traktor.

With all its other features, there’s little physical room for browsing and sorting music in Traktor.

Reader Tony Corless writes: “I moved on to Traktor Pro and Kontrol X1 a few months back. I like it but I find organizing my music a pain. I don’t use iTunes but have my music separated into folders of old skool / rnb / party / rock / dance etc. The main box of recent stuff has about 600 tunes in now and it’s hard to manage – even some of the playlists with about 60 tunes can be a pain. I used CDs for ages and used to burn best of CDs and it was easy just to go straight to the CD that I wanted. I don’t like having to scroll through loads of stuff to find what I want and I don’t want to spend loads of time starring at a screen or typing on a keyboard.”

“Any advice you can give me to make things more user friendly would be appreciated.”

Digital DJ Tips says:

There are going to be lots of answers to this and it will be good to see what everyone else thinks, but for me the key is going to be duplicating your “best of” CDs (or something close) in Traktor. The simplest way would be to set up a number of Traktor playlists called “Best of RnB” etc and simply prepare beforehand by dragging 15 or so best-of tunes to each folder. Then you have the equivalent of your best of CDs ready and waiting for you. Traktor is not the best place to be organising your tunes though, and because it happily reads playlists and smart playlists from iTunes, it means you can more easily do the sorting there, with many advantages.

iTunes

iTunes is made for file organisation, and so is a more friendly place to do your browsing and filing than Traktor.

As iTunes supports smart playlists, you could set up special “best of” playlists that automatically include any tune you’ve tagged “best of” from that particular genre. You can tell the smart folder to only show you the most recent 15 tunes, so you automatically have a “best of” CD in a playlist that consists of your 15 latest favourites, but if you wanted to see them all, or a year’s worth, or whatever (say, on New Year’s Eve), you could quickly do so by changing the rule on the smart folder.

Alternatively, you could just tell the folder to show you everything and remove the “best of” tag when you tired of a tune and had a new one to replace it.

Making a smart playlist

Smart playlists in iTunes are simple but powerful, and doing the work here saves you having to do it manually in Traktor. (Click to enlarge.)

If you think of what you do in iTunes as the equivalent of burning your best of CDs (or packing your record crates), and what you do in Traktor as the equivalent of flicking through these CDs, you’ve then got your metaphor for your old way of working, and you won’t find yourself with your nose stuck in Traktor’s files and folders while DJing.

I suspect that once you get into smart playlists in iTunes as well as its other music library benefits, you’ll wonder why they’re not in Traktor, and won’t be able to live without them.

What would your advice to Tony be? Would you use iTunes or do you have a method for sorting your tunes in Traktor that saves scrolling and searching? Please join in by adding your answers in the comments below.

Comments

  1. Chris Jennings says:

    God bless iTunes and smart playlists. There’s tons of options in making them that make keeping your music organized all that much easier. I use them mostly to keep track of new stuff and to make sure it’s not forgotten (curse of digital), but I like the best of idea. I do have one smart playlist that’s four star and up but I might just make a few genre specific now. If Tony’s completely against using iTunes he could always make best of folders inside the other folders, but that would require a lot of work.

  2. …bkz rclick->New->folder is so much mouse movement.
    Really, traktor lacks file operations but you can do all that prior to starting it. One would really benefit from copy/move/delete actions but if you are unable to “sort first, play later” than you should work on your organization.
    It is software world now, and sometimes it feels that traktor (versions 2 & 3, fuck TraktorPro) was written (like Fallout) “by programmers, for programmers”.

  3. I started using iTunes to organize stuff after some of Phil’s previous posts, although this is mainly to find stuff on my hard drive. Not tried the smart playlist thing yet something I need to look at by the sound of it though.

    In Traktor itself I find it easier just to put things in various playlists as each track can be assigned to multiple playlists.

    With Traktor I think it’s really a case of how you use a combination of playlists and sort functions to find stuff easily. Usually I have several playlists I’ll use in a night, for example I might have playlists for the recent stuff, e.g. ’2010 Oct’, genre playlists, archived playlists from a while back, etc, etc. Then I’ll compile those into a new playlist of potential tracks I want to play on that night (there is another article on here about that preparing for a night).

    When I start playing I use the sort functions on the new playlist, (having tagged the tracks already) my own preferences are to click in the order of BPM, then key, then rating. That won’t necessarily be the order I play the tracks in, but I find it helps me to see what tracks will potentially mix together well. Obviously that could be changed so you could include things like genres.

  4. Phil Morse says:

    As we’ve said before on here, it’s the discipline of organising your tunes beforehand, just for that night, that’s important. It harks back to the old days of only being able to carry 80 records (1 box) or 160 (2 boxes) – you had to think about every single record you took with you, and that “homework” made the “exam” of the DJ set that much easier.

  5. I have never been an iTunes fan. Dont know why,just dont like it.
    I use media monkey for the leg work and tagging, and Trainspotter http://www.tspotter.net for smart playlists and key tagging. It works directly with the Traktor collection so saves a bit of mucking about.
    Getting you tagging right is so critical in the digital age. I have spent many hours sorting out tags, it pays off when you are searching through thousands of tunes looking for that special one you know goes with the one that has 30sec to run.

  6. I’m presently looking to make a switch from ssl to tracktor because of the NI s4 i wanna purchase…and of course making crates in serato is much easier(to me) so would i have to go bk and re-organise my folders too suit tracktor? help on this please

  7. Phil Morse says:

    Yes you would as Serato crates won’t be recognised by Traktor. Good time to start arranging your tunes in iTunes, maybe?

  8. lo.definition says:

    Giving away tips is painful but, I import the tunes after processing them (.mp3 to .wav in platinum notes[don't bother telling me that conversion is useless, I've heard that before], Mixed in Key) then comes the hard, time-consuming hell hole… Sort albums into their own genre(complete albums), from there input into the comments all the sub-info (secondary genres, the “hook” of the tune, WARNINGS IN BIG LETTERS, and finally the mood peak-time, opener, for the mix) then finally the Main Genre in the genre column. Smart playlists to track the sub-info I need, regular playlists for the special nights. 10 years of organizing tunes and I think I have it licked.

  9. OK, I’m a professional musician and new to Traktor and DJing.
    My problem organizing in itunes is that I have thousands of songs, meditations, live recordings etc that I will NEVER use to DJ. Even if I did organize all my dj music nicely, which I have, I still spend way too much time scrolling thru songs to get to the folders that I’ve organize. All of my music is on a external hard drive because it’s safer than keeping all that music on my computer.

    Does anyone had this problem or have any suggestions.

    Thanks so much!!!

  10. My problem with ‘Best of’ folders is that you can end up playing the same tunes each week. I play two different nights. A rock night and a general music night. they cross over a little bit, but not much. I have so much music now and i keep up to date with new releases. It’s getting way too much now and i don’t know how to sort them. I think i’ll have to start keeping singles and ditch the rest of the album or else someday i’ll be carrying around 3/4TB of digital music and that’s just insane.

  11. 1 month ago i moved to organize my music collection from iTunes….1 thing i will say about organizing with iTunes…
    HEAVEN!!!!!!!

  12. Why does it rearrange my music out of the folders which was already organized? How annoying, I have over 500 gigs of music. I’ll try another program which i dont have to hunt for my music.

  13. The simplest way would be to read the music directory by folder! I don’t have time to look for a specific song.

  14. Oussama El Geuzbari says:

    I do use Itunes to sort out my music – I dont like a lot of stuff about it, but it’s better then sorting music inside traktor, and it has some cool features when you get used to it..

    to oracle, I have a one huge sub folder called “genres” I basically dont leave that folder when im out performing a club, party or whatever.. then stuff i would use in private only can be outside that folder..

    Then under that folder I have different folders like 80′ies & 90′ies, house, down tempo,

    under there i have again electro house under house as an example and hiphop under down tempo ..

    I do not like small short uptodate playlists that acts like the newest cd you burned.. since the cool thing about the long playlist that gets updated with new stuff lets me scroll around and find stuff i havent played for quite some time.

    So I dont play the same stuff all the time, I get to re explore my ever growing collection. and by doing that i find new mixes on the fly..

    Traktor even lets me sort the lists by key, bpm or such so i can have those things in mind also .. that is hard to do across a lot of small lists anyway.

    Sorry for my bad english and even worse grammar.
    Yours faithfully :D

  15. Possibly not what all would recommend, but I am a little averse to the control of my media that programs like iTunes have.

    The 50,000 tunes on an external disk exist in my own, personal “directory tree”. I aim to have (more or less) one “screen’s” worth of information each time I work down the tree. I like trance and 70′s prog rock, so these are split into many directories. Under rock, I have modern, hippie, folk, classic, metal etc. I can’t use an alphabetical list this long!

    The important thing here is to remember where you put ya stuff! Traktor then can read your directory tree, and its a few clicks to your tune. Also, similar music will always be nearby in the “tree”.

    If I have time, and can’t remember where I put it (or if I have it), then I can use a search function. In practice, I rarely consider this when out… Generally, if I can think of a tune, I can usually find it within a few clicks.

    It is true that working on this directory tree has taken some considerable time, but it is my own personal take on where the music I know and have should be stored.

    Maybe I’m older, showing futility in attempting to resist (Apple Inc’s) New World Cloud, and all the digital control that inevitably brings….

  16. @ Alienical: I work the same way as i started with Traktor in 2004. I have folders with names like: House, Rock, Party etc. I copy the tracks to the specific folders and go to explorer to manually add them to the collection. Then i go to my collection where all my tracks are sorted on Genre, like Rock 2012, Rock 2013, House progressive etc. So i work with Genre, if i want a track to put to another folder in my Genre list, i just change the Genre type.
    I don’t understand the use of iTunes, when i open a track in iTunes, it copies the file to the iTunes library..why? Then the file is double on my HDD.
    The only thing that i’m looking for is a way to sync collection with my ‘backup’ laptop, now i have to copy a file of 40.000 stripes every 2 weeks and then my whole collection to an external disc and onto my ‘backup’ laptop. But maybe iTunes has a workaround……. Thanks for any help.

  17. re iTunes library.
    You have to unselect “copy files to iTunes library…” http://cl.ly/image/1V283h1d2A1l
    Then you can save your files on your HDD where you want, and organize in iTunes how you like.

    You could store all files in one folder, all organizing in iTunes. I don’t see much point in doubling the the sorting. I just store separately albums, shows/podcasts, and other folders that needs to be cleaned maybe ones in a while. The “keeping” stuff is sorted just by year, sometimes month of download, so I can track how much music I am getting every month.

    But its really interesting to learn how others do, and here are some good tips. thanks!

  18. “I don’t use iTunes but have my music separated into folders of old skool / rnb / party / rock / dance etc.”

    And then the answer goes on to say how to use iTunes to sort your music. I also would like to know how to best sort music WITHOUT iTunes. I do use iTunes, but its more for my personal music collection (full albums) than the often single tracks imported into Traktor. One thing I have done which some may find useful is to set up a folder for your specific DJ music, and then go into Traktors settings and change the music storage location. I’m away from my laptop at the mo, so can’t remember the setting. But when you have hundreds of single tracks, management does become a bit of a pain. I’ve started to set up playlists based on mixes, sessions and should ally get into the preparation mode a bit more.

  19. Alan Reno says:

    Hate iTunes slowest clunkiest program out there. A lot of you are way overthinking this sorting thing. Going around your elbow to scratch your back. Keep it simple stupid is the best way. Always has been.

    • I agree that something simple enough for you to stick to is best but assuming you can do that, the system you use had to be complex enough to suit your needs.

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