Useful Tips – DJ Library Management

Welcome to SKAH DJ Blog! In this article titled; Useful Tips – DJ Library Management, we will be looking at tips for effective library management. This is an extensive area that cannot be sufficiently covered in one article but we will do our best to cover as much as required.

Traditionally, DJs used to have loads of crates of vinyls and CDs. Thanks to technology, DJs can now have hundreds of thousands of music files in a laptop or USB drive. The twist to this is; DJs now usually collect more music than they actually need for any gig. Often times, they do not even have the time to listen to these tracks and prepare them for professional use. If you find yourself in this kind of scenario, here are a few tips to help you keep your DJ library well-sorted.

Using Folders and Drives

Choose a particular location for all your music files. It is unadvisable to have your music files littering every folder on your computer. Do not keep some music files on your desktop, some in your documents and others in the generic music folder. Rather, keep all your music files in a folder preferably in the generic music folder. Make use of sub folders as you so desire to keep your tracks well arranged. If possible, partition your hard disk and use one of the partitions for your music files. Alternatively, If your computer has two hard disks then it is advisable to use one for music files.

Importing Your Files

Most of the top DJ software automatically updates your music library (some by using the Recurse/Refresh button) except a few such as Serato DJ and its predecessor SSL. However, you can easily update your library by dragging and dropping the files and/or folders to crates as desired.

Alternatively, you can use the Java Script below for Serato DJ and SSL to keep your library updated on Mac. Please note that Serato DJ or SSL must be closed. This same code works for Windows but the forward slash will change to backward slash. Copy and paste the code in the TextEdit App on Mac (or Notepad App on Windows) and save as itch-sync in plain text format in your music folder. Please note; I have a separate hard disk partition on my Mac for my music files. Your path to your music collection can also be ‘/Users/Admin/Music’ if you use Mac’s generic music folder.

# mode – gui vs. cmd

# path to your personal music collection

# path to your serato library

Click here to download the executable Java file that performs the update and saves the music files in your Serato Library.

ID3 Tags and Smart Crates

It is good practice to properly label your music files, analyse for BPM, analyse for key, edit beatgrids, setup cuepoints and setup loops. It is also very important to make use of the ID3 tags. An ID3 tag is a data container within an MP3 audio file stored in a prescribed format. This data commonly contains the artist name, song title, year, album, BPM, key, length, bitrate, genre etc. of the current audio file. The ID3 tags are very vital for creating smart crates.

A smart crate is an automated selection of music files in Serato DJ based on rules using the ID3 tags, that is customised search condition which is similar to a database query. For instance, you can select all songs where artist name contains Wizkid and year is 2016. This will return with all of  Wizkid’s songs in 2016 including songs in which he was featured that are in your library. Here is an example below.

You can also instruct Serato DJ to ensure all the rules are met thereby streamlining your search using the ‘Match All of the following Rules’ checkbox. This is similar to the ‘AND’ and ‘OR’ command of database management. Another example is; create a smart crate for all the songs in your library that contains ‘Instru’ in the artist name or song title. This should return with all the instrumental tracks in your library including tracks or artists with ‘Instru’ in their names. For this second example the ‘Match All of the following Rules’ checkbox should be unchecked. Radio DJs will find this tool useful for identifying radio edits (censored version) of songs.

The smart crate will be useless and almost ineffective if your music files are not properly labeled and tagged. Also, it is good practice to create smart crates by genres, year, artistes, most recent and so on. Think about traditional book libraries. Thousands of books and materials are arranged on shelves using a catalogue system. Implement something similar for your DJ library.

Playlists and Selections

It is of no use to have over 100,000 songs on your computer and play only 2,000-5,000 songs regularly. Instead, keep the 100,000 songs in an external hard drive (archive or backup) and have a good selection of 2,000-5,000 songs that you will use regularly on your computer. This is a good way to manage system resources and speed up  retrieval of music files.  Often times, you find DJs scrolling endlessly through their library searching for the next best song to play. If your set is for 2 hours, a playlist of 120 songs should be sufficient to take you through your session. You can then add an extra 120 songs making a total of 240-250 songs. This is more effective than searching endlessly through a crate of 10,000 songs. It is an uphill task but trust me, the juice is worth the squeeze.

Furthermore, if you understand your demographics and you are playing at party for a mixed audience. You can select top 150-200 latest songs, 50 classics and maybe another 50 that is peculiar to the local scene. This enables you focus on how and when to drop the next song into the mix and keep the dancefloor rocking.

Routine Maintenance

Endeavour to perform routine maintenance tasks on you hard disk such as error checking, defragmentation and regular virus scans and update. This is called protect your investment.

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