The media browsers and database collections of most digital DJ mixing systems can be a bit painful to use (e.g. Virtual DJ). I have found that accurately tagging my collection in another program like Media Monkey and then copying the collection over in bulk to the mixing laptop is the best method of managing my collection.
Every incoming file on my computer automatically ends up in a folder called _untested. The _untested folder is further divided into sub folders Completed Torrents, From People, GetRight, and Soul Seek . In each root folder there will be individual files like in the picture below
Whenever I have the time I troll through all the folders and clean them out. All the software gets deleted or moved to the Software Drive (S:), same for the Watching Pleasure (W:). All the music I extract and play next in Media Monkey. I quickly skip through a few tracks to get a feel for genre of the album. I’ll delete the whole album fairly ruthlessly if it sounds at all cheesy or not really my style.
This is an important initial filter and can be completed quickly once you have trained your ears. If any of the tracks sound interesting I will listen to the each one skipping past the intro to about 2 minutes into the track listening for a bit then skipping again to the middle and again into the last two minutes (most of the tracks I listen to are 7-9 minutes long). If I notice that an individual track is bad I’ll delete it but I am not worrying so much at this stage. If the whole album is noticeably a single genre I select all and tag them then same genre making use of the hot keys and auto completes.
I’ll flip back to Explorer and move the album or tracks to one of two partitions Psytrance (P:) and Quieter Music(Q:). I have divided a single physical drive into two partitions in such a way to try to keep the partitions a similar size so that you never have to worry about resizing partitions as both fill up about the same time.
Splitting a music collection into a small number of main categories (in my case Psytrance and Quieter Music) means there is no thought required where to place music. Each partition is sub-divided based on date that the music arrived in my collection. The folders are named by year and then month (ie. 2007 09). This method helps me keep track of the newest additions and makes life easy for friends browsing my collection via Explorer as they can just look in the most recent dated folder.
Good music library programs will have a folder monitor feature which actively monitors areas on your computer for new additions and imports any new songs found into your collection. It is a also good idea to enable duplicate checking. I use two auto playlists one called Just Added, the other Recently Added. I have these set to <1 day old and < 10 days old respectively. The Genre tag is how I manage my entire collection so it is useful to be able to quickly listen to the newest additions and replace any existing genres with ones that match my personal classification system. I use the Unknown Genre report to add genres to those tracks with out them so that the tracks will get playtime. If a tracks genre doesn’t match your personal classification system it won’t get added to your any Auto Playlist based on genre and you’ll be unlikely to hear it at all unless you are a fan of the All Accessible Tracks playlist which I find bit too chaotic for general listening.
Now that all your tracks have been genre’d you need to work out which ones you’ll be wanting to copy to your mixing laptop. It makes sense to copy only your best tracks to your mixing laptop. Anyone can chuck some tracks into some DJ software, hit the BPM synch button, drop a second track in and hit the crossfader. The real skill in DJ’ing comes from track selection. What better time to do complete your initial tack selection than when preparing your DJ collection? If you only have great tracks on your laptop then it is easy to play a strong, consistent sounding set.
Sort the genre in question by date added and begin listening to all the tracks adding all the ones you are likely to play into a new playlist. Because this process can take a long time when you have thousands of tracks to listen to you will be unlikely to complete this in a single sitting. For me it has taken weeks. To keep track of where you are up to simply rename the new playlist with the library number you have analyzed up to (ie. Psy 1056) – that is why it is important to sort the source genre by date added.
Next uber-tag the tracks that you are going to be using when mixing. This is one of the most important facets of digital mixing and so often overlooked. By adding as many tags as possible to the genre field you have a future proof identification system that will be readable by any mixing software (they all read at least the Genre tag) and will let you know as much detail as possible about the track. Mark the primary genre first and then any sub genres that fit. Get creative with your tags. Use as many combinations as seem appropriate for each track:
Instantly you can see what sort of track each is. Specific tags will vary depending on what is important to your genre/style – others like Intro everyone can benefit from using (a track that has a good intro and/or is suitable for the start of a set or to bring in during the break of another track). Usually the last music genre in the list will identify the style of the intro. So a track tagged with Psytrance/Melodic/Electro/Classic/Intro is a Psytrance track with melodic and electro synths and sounds with a classical introduction. Gain Up and Down can be useful for hints at leveling adjustments – although generally if a track requires a gain boost I’ll just delete it from my mixing collection rather than fight to get the levels balanced in a set.
Expect that it will take you a long time to properly tag your collection. Don’t rush it. take your time and enjoy listening to each track. Get up and take a break ever 30 minutes or so. Have a stretch. Rest your ears often – they are your most important mixing asset. You will find you creative energy will be higher around the full moon so that is always a good time to tag and bag some tracks.
Once you have tagged your mixing playlist copy the entire playlist to your laptop (Media Monkey this is as easy as select all copy then go to explorer and paste into a new folder) and go mix up a storm.
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