Organizing Your DJ Music: Part 1

Your DJ Music is the lifeblood of your DJ operation, so you should take care and maintain it just like you would your most expensive piece of DJ kit.  

Organizing your DJ music isn’t hard, but it’s tedious, time consuming and if you don’t stay on top of it, media file organization can quickly spiral out of control.   It’s best to have a plan from the start, and while my suggestions below are based on how one of our DJ employee’s organizing his DJ music, it’s more of a guide.  The end-goal is to have one main location on a hard drive for all your music and DJ media files, with a set of organizational rules that work for you as a DJ.

One major benefit of staying organized is that our PCDJ DJ software, and even more so with the upcoming PCDJ DEX 3 browser, allows you to nest your music directories as groups.   So if your files are organized properly on your hard drive, you can right-click any directory via the explorer tree view and “Set As Favorite”, and our DJ software will maintain the directory/sub-directory file folder structure. In case you ever need to re-install, setting up your groups (favorites) again would be a breeze.    

I would also highly recommend storing your DJ music on an external HD, so in case of catastrophic machine failure your DJ music and directory structure will remain intact. Of course, as long as you back up your music to an externel hard drive (or multiple external HD’s if you’re the cautious type) you’re also safe in case of emergency. 

First, select a location for ALL of your files.  Meaning you want all your DJ music to reside in one parent directory on your hard drive (as noted, external hard drives are the popular way to go for DJs).   Call the parent directory as you wish, in our example we use “DJ Music“.      

Now here is where you have organizational freedom.    Our resident DJ prefers to call his main storage directories “Albums“, as pictured below.  However, “Artist” would work equally as well.   Due to a vast collection of tunes (well over 100,000) he’s broken down the “Album” directories in 2 parts:  A-M, and N-Z.  This is where the bulk of all his DJ music is stored.  Example: 


Under the expanded main A-M and N-Z Album directories, you will find that each artist has its own directory — and within those directories the artist’s albums are organized into their own folders.   That’s as many directory levels we suggest you go, basically 3 levels deep.   Example:
Many DJs subscribe to DJ Music record pool services such as the iDJPool, so organizing by Artist/Album isn’t always the best option.  For DJ services, our resident DJ uses a “Record Pool” directory.  Within this directory, each month’s record pool releases are stored in individual directories based on both year, and month (or series number, depending on if your record pool service labels their releases). Within those directories resides the music.  Example of date based compilation organization:



In the case of compilations, otherwise DJ music that doesn’t come in an album, but rather with various artists, our DJ chooses to place those files into genre specific directories.  Within those directories reside the music files, without any further sub-directories present.  Example:

That’s it.  Again, please note the above is suggestive and a guide, not the rule.  The goal is to be organized, and when you get new music you’ll immediately want to place it in the appropriate directories, otherwise you’ll be in log-jam before you know it.   I know other DJ’s simply place all their music, without any sub-directories, in genre-specific directories only.  This works for them, and you may find a method that works best for you and your needs as a DJ.  

One thing everyone should do however is make sure you use one parent directory for all your DJ music and media files (audio, video or karaoke).   Since DJ software works based on links to the physical file location on your hard drive, you don’t want to move the main DJ music directory location either – which will result in broken links and files that don’t play until you re-import them. 

I hope that helps you keep your DJ music organized. if you have tips you’d like to share with us and other DJs please comment below!