For DJs, an organised music collection is vital to playing a flawless set. Adding structure by labelling files, folders and subfolders, finding the right tracks can be made much easier, and it can even help you add better transitions to your mixes. That means it’s time to bring order to the chaos! In this blog, I offer beginner DJs a handful of digital music managements tips.

How to Organise Your DJ Record Collection

Start by Creating Folders

Let me start by making clear that this blog is limited to digital music, seeing as there are only so many ways to order a stack of vinyl anyway. Building up a collection of digital music is fast and easy, and the first step to organising it is by creating a general music folder and possibly more specific subfolders on your computer. This way, everything’s in one place before you start streamlining things. No matter how gigantic or tiny your library is, this just has to be done at some point.

With or Without ‘DJ’?

As soon as your music’s listed you’ll encounter the first obstacle. Tracks are often given names like 01.You_Will_Never_Walk_Alone_Silly-_John_Cleese_(Ali_G_remix_[explicit], which can make finding what you need rather tricky. For all we know, you’ve got 36 similarly-named remixes. That’s why your first priority should be renaming your music in an orderly way, like ‘Artist – Title’. As you’d expect, here comes the second obstacle: the spelling of artists’ names. Is it Hardwell or DJ Hardwell; Tupac Shakur or 2Pac? This is actually entirely up to you, but whatever you do, make sure you’re consistent.

How About Collaborations?

Collaborations, or collabs, are outrageously popular these days but also pose a naming problem. For consistency’s sake, it’s best to put the collaborating artist right behind the ‘main’ artist: DJ Jim-Jams ft. SuperSocks (note that ft. can be swapped for vs. or &). So, now that we’ve covered the first, rudimentary way to bring order to the chaos of your digital music, it’s time to dive in a little deeper and edit the metadata (also called tags) of the files. On Windows systems, this can be done by right-clicking on a song, then clicking on Properties and selecting the Details tab. Computers running on MacOS are less extensive: go to Show Info to fill in the fields. If you don’t know which record certain singles belong to, you can reference, which also offers other detailed information including release date, collaborating artists, genre and more. When it comes to the genre, you can be as elaborate as you’d like (e.g. ‘dance’ versus ‘urban tropical deep house breakbeats’).


Since it’s understandable that nobody wants to be bound to their laptop for every gig, we depend on USB sticks more often. They can be plugged into media players but, since these usually don’t have a keyboard of their own, you’re stuck with manual browsing controls. Now imagine going through a list of 1,500+ songs to find a particular one. That’s going to take forever, so you’ll want to create subfolders next. If you happen to own full albums, you can drop each in a subfolder named ‘Albums’, possible subdivided into ‘CD Albums’ and ‘Download/MP3 Albums’. The same trick can be applied to singles, after which you could decide to create separate folders per artist, release date, album or genre. Now, it’s finally time to involve your DJ software. A lot of these programs, such as Serato, Rekordbox, Traktor, Djay and Engine Prime, let you copy your entire library at once, including any subfolders.

A Little Help From Your Software

Once you’ve loaded your music into your software, it might automatically start analysing your songs – adding essential information such as BPM and pitch to it. That’s nice, because by now you’ve probably already been going at it for hours. While software analysis is getting more advanced by the day, there’s still plenty of room error, so make sure to carry out a manual check to see if your grid’s still in place and if the BPM is (roughly) correct. Tip: While you’re at it, you might as well check your hot cues and other edits, too!

Time Management

We understand that you lead a busy life with far too many obligations and as such, have no idea where to find to time to do any of this. But – every minute spent organising your music is always worth it, and you don’t even necessarily need your computer. Your phone will actually do: simply assess and order any music using a five-star rating system, make genre-based playlists, write down notes and create work-in-progress playlists. Some DJ software even comes including an app that can be used to create cues and playlists, letting you tap into your creativity whenever you’d like and really get to know your own music. After a while, you’ll start to hear smooth transitions and brilliant breaks, all while helping your future self with a bit of music management. Time well spent!

In Short

Here’s a recap of the steps you can follow to build and maintain your music library:

  • Gather all of your music in a folder
  • Ensure correct and consistent naming, including metadata (tags)
  • Create clear subfolders
  • Double-check the automatic analysis of your DJ software (beatgrid, BPM)
  • Make cue points, loops and do other edits
  • Keep listening and collecting music

How do you organise your music collection? Share your tips in the comments below!

See Also

» DJ Gear & Accessories


» How To Become a DJ
» Where Do DJs Get Their Music From?
» 7 Tips for Preparing Your DJ Set
» Hot Cues and How to Use Them
» Beatmatching: The Basics

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