How to organize your record library
Tips and techniques to bring structure into your vinyl collection
Ah, organizing your record collection. Whether you’re a digital DJ trying to sort thousands of mp3s in a folder structure that still makes sense to you next week, or a vinyl collector wanting to find the best system to easily browse through your most prized records, everyone who’s ever planned on reorganizing their vinyl records, knows just how daunting of a task that can be.
But a good plan of action and a bit of preparation can really go a long way, so if you’re still looking for ways on how to organize your music library or your record collection, this article might be just for you.
Everyone does it differently
If you are deeply connected to the world of art, surely you have heard that everything done in it is governed by an eternal balance between chaos and freedom. And this statement is more than correct, but we cannot let chaos reign over our environment.
Organization is not only the key to success in many aspects of life, but also in job performance. Many people often overlook the importance of organizing your work environment, but the truth is that it can make a big difference in your career.
The term “subjective organization” refers to the way that each individual perceives and organizes information. While there isn’t a “correct” way to organize yourself, there are definitely some methods that are more effective than others.
Sometimes the most effective way to be organized is not always the most obvious. For example, when working on a project that requires a lot of creative thinking, it may be more helpful to organize in a less traditional way in order to encourage thinking out of the box.
In contrast, when working on a task that requires mainly data analysis, it may be more helpful to organize it in a more traditional way in order to easily compare and contrast different data sets.
So the key is to find what works best for both you as an individual and for the task at hand. So, in this two-piece series of articles, we will introduce you to a couple of organizational models that can be useful for pure pleasure purposes but also for the art of DJing.
The first part of this article will be aimed at organizing your vinyl record collection, focussing on the specific needs of record collectors and DJs alike.
Organizing My Record Library
There are many ways to organize your music library, and there is no one-size-fits-all rule. The best way is to figure out what’s best for you, knowing several ways of organizing and adapting them to your library, along with your subjective routine.
So here we will present some existing organization models and how you can apply them to your music library. In this way you will learn new ways of organizing, you can test them, and finally adapt them, finding what fits you best.
Organizing your record collection can be a scary task, but it’s well worth the effort. Not only will it make it a breeze to find the album you want to listen to, but it will also give you a sense of satisfaction knowing that your collection is in order. Here are a few tips to get you started.
For music lovers with extensive collections, a key question comes up when they pass the 1,000 vinyl record milestone: should I sort my records in alphabetical order?
This method, as you probably know it, consists of organizing your music library based on the first syllable of the name of the artist/band or album on the record. And we can see that collectors prefer alphabetical order because it is usually simpler to use.
It also allows any visitor or member of your family to select a record easily and put it back in the right spot. However, the major disadvantage of this method is that artists that are very different are usually grouped together, for example, the Beatles and Beethoven.
Mood, Genre and Sub-Genres
This is perhaps the DJ’s favorite method, which is to organize your record collection by genre or musical mood. And if you’re a fan of a particular genre of music, you can store your records into sub-genres.
This approach works well for moderate-sized collections where a few musical genres or sub-genres clearly stand out. You could use a sub-genre system for classifying your music, with genres like jazz fusion, free jazz, experimental jazz, swing, hard bop, Latin jazz, or bebop. This would help you to keep your collection organized and prevent music from becoming lost in the shuffle.
In chronological order by release date
If you’re a music enthusiast with a large collection of records, you know how tough it can be to keep them all organized. One way to do it is by sorting them by release date. This may take a bit more effort, as finding the release date on your jacket isn’t always easy, but it can be a pretty cool way to organize records, especially for historians and music listeners with a wide range of records from different time periods.
Digital cataloging of my music library
Digitally cataloging your library can be very helpful in the process of organizing and mapping your collection. If you have thirty, sixty, or even one hundred records, chances are you can remember all the titles you have in your collection. However, if this isn’t the case for you and you have more than 1000 records, it is important to have an updated catalog to avoid repeat purchases.
Believe me, this happens a lot to collectors, even to veterans. With a digital catalog of your discs, you have total control of the titles in your collection. You can even keep a ranking of those you listen to the most, besides having easy access to information on each disc that has been cataloged, that is, registered.
Discogs is a comprehensive database of music releases. It encompasses the official discographies of artists, as well as promotional editions, compilations, unofficial records, and famous bootlegs.
In the world of vinyl collectors, Discogs has become a reference. After all, its database of records is perhaps the largest in the world.
You can create a free account on the website or download the app on your cell phone. As a registered user, you can access their enormous musical database and catalogue your collection. This way, you can always have an updated list of your records at your fingertips. This is not only useful for checking specific releases, but also to make sure you don’t have any duplicate editions in your collection.
Discogs is an efficient tool for collectors that allows you to write reviews, add notes to records in your collection or on your wantlist, and buy or sell albums. You can even estimate the approximate value of your collection through the Discogs marketplace.
Also known as RYM, Rate Your Music is a collaborative website, where each user can rate the albums they have listened to, which are not necessarily the ones they have in their collection.
The website automatically generates lists with the best-ranked albums in various genres, as well as a general list with the best scores, electing those that would be, according to the site’s users, the best albums of all time.
It’s a great resource for music lovers who want to explore new bands and artists, as well as catalog their own collections. The addition of titles and artists is welcome, although their criteria are a bit stricter than what you might find on Discogs.
One very interesting tool in Rate Your Music is the ability to create your wish list on the website, and have it always at hand (Discogs also has this function).
The website also functions as a social network for music lovers, where you can follow the profiles of friends and make referrals to other users. On Rate Your Music, you can also catalogue your movie collection!
In the next article, I will cover some methods of organizing digital music libraries, and I’ll also share an interesting method that I have developed and use myself.
In the meantime, join the conversation on the KollektivX subreddit to share your personal experiences and meet other like-minded music lovers. How do you organize and catalogue your records?
See you next week!
‘Discover more great grooves and help preserve our global musical heritage