Reader Dan writes: “I have an external hard drive of 14,000 tunes. The problem is it is in so many different formats: MP3, WMA to just name two. I have a Numark controller, which doesn’t read half of them. Is there a program or software than can organise them or convert them all to, say, MP3?”
Digital DJ Tips says:
You need to understand the music formats you’re speaking of before doing something like this, because you don’t want to spend ages doing it and realising you’ve made a mistake or made your files sound worse. Read What Every DJ Needs To Know About File Formats for a primer on bitrates, compressed vs uncompressed etc. (And by the way, it’s your software that doesn’t read them, not your controller; the controller is just a box of buttons…)
My advice in this situation is always to first decide what you want to keep and what you want to get rid of out of that music. If you have illegal downloads, poor-sounding files, stuff you’ve ripped from YouTube, stuff you’re never hand-on-heart going to use (or use again) in your DJ sets, be bold: Delete it. Once you’re down to a core of tunes, that all sound good, that are all genuinely going to be of use to you in your DJing, but that are all jumbled up and not organised as you’d like, it’s time to get to work.
The program I recommend for this situation is Platinum Notes. It gets your music all to the same volume, to start with, and also corrects lots of audio issues at the same time. It generally ends up making tunes sound better, with the added bonus you get them all in the same format at the end. It’s not a magic solution, and it certainly won’t fix all the bad-sounding, illegal, ripped etc music I told you to get rid of earlier, but as long as the incoming tunes are good quality, I recommend it.
Next, you need to organise your music. We have a recent series on that by a guest writer, starting with 5 Reasons To Organise Your Music Properly, but the bottom line is that everyone has their own way of doing this. I recommend organising in iTunes, because of its smart playlists and the fact that all the work you do there is accessible in all major DJ software, but as I say – everyone has their own way. One thing I don’t really recommend is the total automation tools like TuneUp, but having said that I think BeaTunes is worth a look for helping with this.
My advice after years of this is make the steps you take to introduce new music into your collection as simple as possible. The more complicated you make it (even with the best of intentions), the harder it will be to stick to it down the line. And from now on, be very particular about how you introduce new music to your collection, so you don’t get in this mess again! (By the way, you’re not the worst: Read the “confessions” post linked to below…)
By the way, there’s a whole section in our forthcoming Digital DJ Masterclass course dedicated to how to do this properly, but for now I hope this helps. Every member of Digital DJ Tips will be offered the course first, so join up if you think that may be of interest to you.
What advice would you give to Dan? Have you been in this situation? How did you tidy things up? Please share below.