Why an Organized Music Library Can Make You a Better DJ
Written by Cory Giles for BPM Supreme
Many factors go into becoming a top DJ, such as research, practice, and experience. But one thing that’s often overlooked is a well-organized music library. As DJs get more comfortable performing in front of a crowd, they may feel organizing their music isn’t necessary. But let me tell you from firsthand experience that an organized music library can make you a better DJ!
Whether you organize your music on your computer, in DJ software like Serato, or you’ve adopted Apple’s new Music app (the replacement for iTunes), there is no better feeling than flowing smoothly in and out of your crates during a gig and constructing the perfect set because your music is in order.
I’ve lost count of how many times my crate organization has helped me out. For example, one night back when I first started DJing, I had a gig playing a Reggae-heavy nightclub. My library wasn’t too strong in that genre at the time, but thanks to preparing a crate ahead of time, I was able to coast through the gig playing tracks by key and BPM. If I hadn’t taken the time to prep and organize my music, the outcome could have been very different.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure there are some DJs out there who do fine without any crate organization. They just know where certain tracks are located even if their Serato or rekordbox crates aren’t in perfect order, or they use the search bar and find tracks on the fly. But since there is always room for improvement, let’s look at the “pros” of having a more organized library:
- Go into your set with a clear mind and stay more relaxed throughout the set
- Move through tracks easier by organizing by key and BPM
- Practice your mixing skills while moving tracks into separate crates
- Find song requests quicker and easier
- Keep an inventory of the music you have and find holes where you need more music
- Save your top-played tracks and most successful sets
Create a System
Now that we covered some of the benefits, let’s look at ways to get started with organizing your music. The first step is creating a system to name each of your crates. Do you want to organize by year, genre, key, or maybe by events? You could even try a color-coding system if that works for you.
Other examples of naming conventions that I find helpful are based on specific set times. For example, maybe you’ll have a crate called “opening sets” or “prime-time open format.” You can also name crates based on specific venues where you are familiar with the crowd and the exact type of music to have prepared.
Remember, no system is perfect and you will probably end up improving your organization as time goes on. Crate organization takes time and patience, but the payoff is worth it and it will end up saving you headaches in the long run!
Once you are at a place where you feel comfortable with the set up of your library, you can start adding in some extra categories and tricks. Below are optional tips to keep in mind that can help make selecting tracks and mixing more efficient:
- Set beat grids for each song in your library
- Set up cue points for scratching, mixing in, and mixing out
- Set a tab for Bitrate (For quality sound, all tracks should be above 256 kbps.)
- Delete tracks you never play (In Serato, you can now see play counts which makes it easy to see the tracks you don’t play often.)
My final piece of advice when it comes to an organized music library is to be consistent. I am speaking from personal experience when I say you don’t want to be inconsistent with this. I’ve let months go by without updating my library and then spent months trying to get back on track. The trick is to pick a day once a week and block out a few hours where you go through your crates, organize, cue, and even add new music. Stay on top of your crate organization and your job will be much easier.
Although organizing your music library may seem daunting at first, it is very beneficial. I hope this article is helpful and you’re able to organize a music library that makes you a better DJ!
Let us know if you have any music organizing tips in the comments below. We want to hear from you!
About Cory Giles
From the age of 4, Cory Giles was curious what it meant to be a DJ and had a strong connection to the art form through his dad, DJ Keith. Beginning with the business side of the music industry, Cory started working with giants like Def Jam, Universal Music Group, and HOT 97 in New York City. It wasn’t until 2018 that he joined Hot 97’s Summer Mix Weekend lineup and soon after enrolled into Scratch DJ Academy determined to master the craft of DJing. The next year, Cory joined Dash Radio and created his own show “The Corner” which airs weekly on the platform.
With Cory’s professionally-taught skills and early exposure to the art form, DJing came to him naturally. He’s performed everywhere from community events like AIDS Walk New York to sponsored events with companies like Verizon and Applebee’s. With a strong understanding of various genres including Top 40, R&B, EDM, throwbacks, reggae, and hip hop, never expect anything less than a quality experience when Cory Giles is on the set. Follow Cory on Instagram.