Imagine that you are asked to DJ at a party, but don’t have any of your own music with you. All the tunes at your disposal are stored on a hard disk drive that the bar/club has provided. You have been told that it has music from a variety of genres, and that you should find and play music you are familiar with.
Obviously this hypothetical scenario is unlikely to occur, but what would you do? Would it stop you from DJing? How would you find the music you know well enough in order to play a set? When it comes down to it, it would all depend on how well the music was organised.
If the file names and folders were structured in a logical manner, easily directing you to different genres, artists, or time periods of music you are familiar with, you’d probably have a chance. But what if you found it to be a vast collection of obscurely named tracks in various folders that didn’t have any structure or metadata tags? How would you pluck out the tracks you wanted to play then? No so easy, huh?
This illustrates why putting the effort into organising and managing your music library can be a lifesaver for you and the DJs you work with. And while the word “organisation” can conjure up negative feelings about putting in effort for something that doesn’t appear to bring much benefit, smart DJs know it’s effort well spent.
As a bonus though (as with most times when you choose to put effort into something to do with your DJing) there are benefits past the obvious. So if you’re sitting on the fence about spending a weekend (or longer) hammering that disorganised collection into shape, here’s five great reasons why you should do this:
5 Reasons To Get Organised…
1. You get to know your music better
Listening to and learning how tracks sound is a major part of knowing your music. By working with the metadata, adding supporting information and sorting your tunes into logical groups, you add meaning and context. For example, adding album art can help you to instantly recognise the track and associate it with a memory or time of the night that can aid your set planning.
2. It helps you find tracks quickly in an emergency
Need a particular genre, tempo, artist, key or sample size? Even with a flat folder or grouping structure, accurate and consistent metadata make sure that you always find the track you need quickly. If someone requests a song that you know you have but you’re not sure where, it’s so much easier to find it if your library is well maintained.
3. It encourages you to value the music you already have
There is so much music out there that to find good new stuff that you can manage is a challenge. Why make it more difficult with your existing collection? A well organised music library can ensure you don’t forget great old tracks, and can constantly keep your DJ sets innovative by bringing some of those treasured classics out once in a while (through the use of dynamic playlists, for instance).
4. It makes music look and feel better to work with
Consistent metadata and a structured library make it a joy to find and use your music. Not only will musical discovery be more productive but you’ll enjoy listening to your existing music because it’s arranged neatly and makes your DJ programming cleaner.
5. It sets the foundation to keeping your DJing and music collection lean
Over time your music library grows from a few hundred to thousands of tracks. No matter how hard you try you will not be able to recall the names and musical form of every track in your collection – but with good organisation, you don’t have to. A well organised library retains this information for you and gives you access to what you need when you need it. It also helps you to be disciplined with what you keep as part of your collection, which is never a bad thing.
It’s more important with digital…
With physical records or CDs, organisation is both natural and less important at the same time. You are forced to pack a “box” or two and in doing so you’re organising for the most important job in front of you – a night’s DJing.
With digital, you have your whole collection with you, and that collection is likely to be both bigger and (if you’re not careful) harder to navigate through than physical CDs or records. Hence the need to organise becomes doubly important if digital is to assist, not hinder you when it comes to using your music library.
• André is a UK-based part-time mobile DJ with over 15 years’ experience.
Check out the other parts in this series:
- How To Get Started Organising Your Music – Part 2
- Choosing The Right File Formats For Your Music Library – Part 3
- An Essential Guide To Organising Your Music Library – Part 4
- Tools & Workflow Ideas For Organising Your Music Library – Part 5
Have you had any bad DJing experiences through not being properly organised? What other reasons are there for making sure your music is well categorised and sorted? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.