How to Organize Your DJ Music Library
Sorting through a library of thousands of songs is a challenge that we constantly face as DJs. Fortunately, DJ software to organize music is becoming more affordable and useable, meaning we can solve a lot of the problems that the previous generation of DJs had to combat. In this post, I’ll go over what DJ library management software is, how it can take your DJing to the next level, and some tips for using it.
TL;DR organizing your music#
DJ music organization software helps you sort and navigate a large music collection.
There are five highly recommended library management tools.
It's a good idea to save some details like tempo, key, and genre with each song.
What Is DJ Software for Organizing Music?#
After you have collected a lot of tracks via music libraries, you need to make sure that you don't get lost in that long list of files on your hard drive. DJ software allows you to manage your music library and organize it in a way that makes sense for you. Designated organization software gives you many more options to make song selection easier in the heat of a set.
As DJs, we amass huge collections of music, so organization is essential. Library management software lets you organize your music by many more factors beyond artist, title, and genre like you'll find in regular music software. Through creating playlists, detecting unused files, and adapting to your personal preference, these tools are a fantastic solution for many DJs.
You can also categorize music by factors like BPM and key. When you're working on a mix, these sorting capabilities make it easy for you to find a song that will work with your crowd.
Benefits of Music Organizer Software#
A well-organized music library can boost your potential as a DJ because music organizer software helps you find the best suitable tracks fast based on all kinds of characteristics. You'll be able to find the perfect tracks to complement your set.
Even if you create your mixes ahead of time, you may need to make changes on the fly, such as when an audience member makes a request or if you need to switch up the vibe. The last thing you want is for the music to stop as you desperately search for the next track.
A music organizer allows you to visualize your music library as a whole and gain a good understanding of what types of tracks you could add to your collection. You can also mark songs that you play frequently or that get requested often so you can easily find them later.
5 Best DJ Software Products for Organizing Music#
Below are five different DJ software products that will elevate your DJ workflow. They each have slightly different features, with some helping find lost tracks, integrating with your DJ gear, offering a cue point generator, identifying broken tracks, and more. Let's dive into the details of each and discover which may be the best for your DJ needs.
One of Lexicon's best features is that it's highly customizable to the unique needs of your library. It also integrates with many other DJ programs and tools.
Lexicon can categorize each of your files by fields like Danceability, Energy, and Happiness to help you sort songs for a specific mood. The Smartlist feature builds an automatic playlist based on your specifications. Lexicon DJ also has track analysis and can often help you find missing details from songs.
The software makes it easy for you to work in bulk. For example, you can create cue templates and apply them to multiple tracks. You can also make changes to a selected group of tracks. As DJs, we spend most of our time preparing songs, and Lexicon can reduce the hassle of this drastically.
You can also easily import your tracks from other software and organize them all in one place. Lexicon intuitively does much of the work for you.
One of the biggest cons with Lexicon is that you'll need the Pro version if you want any of the best features like unlimited cloud storage and backup. The program is set to release a mobile app, which will only be available with Pro.
Apple Music (which will finally replace iTunes on all new Macs) is a great tool that features a monthly subscription and provides access to over 100 million songs. If you download tracks from other sources, you can manage them in Apple Music too. The program's algorithm makes it easy to find new tracks based on your likes, so it’s a fantastic tool for DJs.
For organizing certain tracks, Apple Music doesn't offer as many customization options as dedicated DJ music storage. You can change metadata and add information like BPM, but it isn't as intuitive. It also lacks features like adding cue points.
One of the biggest frustrations with Apple Music is that you'll need to use third-party software to import tracks into your mixing software. Overall, it's best used as a tool to find all the newest tracks from other genres and artists. It's an affordable option, but you'll likely need to purchase additional software to gain its full potential as organization software.
beaTunes software is a music management system that lets you access music from your entire library. You can use it to find and add metadata to your tracks. It is also helpful for cleaning up your music library by finding and deleting duplicate songs.
beaTunes analyzes songs to generate data like BPM and key. You can then use this data to search and create lists. It can even suggest similar songs to help you build a setlist quickly and effectively.
beaTunes has a one-time cost, making it more affordable than monthly subscription options. While beaTunes can be used without iTunes, it works best if that's where you store your tracks. Overall, beaTunes is a slightly lesser-known tool, but is a highly recommended option for beginner and experienced DJs alike.
MIXO is a cloud-based DJ music library and is the first of its kind. You can save all of your tracks to Google Drive or Dropbox, eliminating the need for an external drive. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you’ll see this as a massive benefit.
Despite being cloud-based, MIXO does have the ability to access your library in an offline environment, too. One of the best things about MIXO is that it doesn't just sync your tracks - it also syncs information like metadata, cue points, album artwork, waveform, and more.
There is a free version of MIXO, but you'll get more features with a premium plan. It's a low monthly price and allows you to use mobile devices and download playlists. You can also import and export with your mixing software. Whether you use Rekordbox, Serato, Traktor, or Virtual DJ, MIXO will allow you to easily and effectively manage your library. Additionally, it lets you transfer things like cue points and track edits through the MIXO:BRIDGE feature.
MIXO offers many great features, but it doesn't allow you to customize your tracks as much as some other programs. It also doesn't let you edit tracks in bulk.
Rekordbox is full-fledged DJ software that includes powerful music storage and organization options. It works on Windows and MacOS and also on mobile devices. You can sync changes to any of your music that's saved in the cloud.
Rekordbox features song analysis that discovers BPM, beat grid, key, phrasing, and more. You can see color-coded song waveforms that give you an in-depth analysis of each track. The software can automatically generate a playlist based on a set of criteria that you provide and recommend similar songs to your chosen tracks. You can easily spot songs in the same key as your chosen song by looking for green lights next to each track.
Rekordbox offers four tiers, including a free option. To get the maximum benefit, you'll need the Professional option, which is probably a little pricey if you're not getting paid as a DJ, but if you're doing regular gigs, it's definitely worth it.
Track Details to Save & Display With Each Song#
BPM stands for beats per minute, and it denotes how fast or slow a song is. Songs with higher BPMs are faster, while songs with lower BPMs are slower. BPM is often used in place of the musical term "tempo."
When mixing, one of the best ways to seamlessly transition from one song to the next is to choose two songs with a similar BPM. If two songs have widely different BPMs, your transition will clash and sound harsh.
Many online applications and smartphone apps will tell you the BPM of a song. You will either search for the song or play it, and the app will give you the BPM. Finding the BPM for each individual track can be inconvenient and time-consuming. Fortunately, most modern software will usually generate BPM automatically for you.
You'll be able to include BPM information with each song's details. You can also easily sort your songs by BPM, making it easier to find songs with the same or similar BPMs, even when working on the fly.
Key refers to a group of specific notes that work together to create a musical piece. There are 24 keys in total, made up of 12 major keys and 12 minor keys. Different keys create different moods within a song.
As DJs, we need to consider keys when mixing songs. You want to choose a track that either has the same key or has two keys that complement one another. This will elevate your mix to a more professional standard.
Sheet music denotes key, but if you don't have access to a song's key, you can use an online program to help you find it. You can either research the song or use an app that will analyze the song for you.
Searching for every song's key can be time-consuming. Music organizer software often lets you search songs by key, making it easy to find the next song for your set.
Genre refers to a type of music, such as EDM, rock, or pop. As a DJ, sorting your songs by genre can be helpful for a variety of reasons. Your sets will generally stick to one genre or group of genres, and by having this information easily accessible, you can make the track selection process run a lot more smoothly.
Most software will display the broad genres of a song. You'll also be able to search for all the songs you have in a particular genre. This can help you create a set that is more enjoyable for both you and your dancefloor.
Tips for DJ Library Management#
Organize Your Music Into Crates and Playlists#
When working on a mix, you want to be able to easily find mixable tracks to play next. Crates and DJ playlists are fantastic ways to sort your library into genres, decades, and types of songs. Many programs have keyboard shortcuts that allow you to quickly and easily move a selected track into specific crates or playlists.
The way you structure your crates and DJ playlists comes mostly down to preference, but I like to separate tracks into multiple genres like hip hop, pop, and house, and then into five other categories within each genre:
By setting up my music folder structure like this, I can easily progress through the set and build the energy on the dancefloor, even if I don’t know the songs all that well.
Rename Music Files to Provide More Information#
Song titles, while creative, may not give you the most information about a song. You can rename your music files to help you remember a particular song and to help with song selection in the heat of a set.
Again, this is largely up to your personal preferences, but I like to put the artist name first. I’m usually more familiar with a particular producer or artist than the song itself, so by putting their name first, I can recognize it and instantly decide whether it’s a potential track for my mix.
After that, I’ll put in whether it’s a remix, and if so, what type of remix it is. This can provide some more insight into what type of track I’m looking at. I do also like to include the track title, but I’ll usually shorten it a little bit so that it’s more readable.
Here’s an example of how I structure my file names:
One other way that I've seen DJs structure their filenames is with BPM and key. Some mixing software doesn't allow you to see this at a glance, so by naming your file something like 130bpm 12B, you can instantly see the tempo and key to help make song selection a little bit easier
It may also be helpful to upload some cover art or album art to make a track more recognizable. Spend some time experimenting with different file names to see what works best for you.
Take Your Library Management to the Next Level Today!#
In this post, I explained everything you need to know to get started with music library organization as a DJ. Begin by choosing the best software for you, and then follow the tips in this post to get set up for your next set.
FAQs About DJ Music Organization Software
- What is the best way to organize music files?
- What is the best library manager?
How Do DJs Fill Their Music Libraries?
Where Do DJs Get Music? Online stores like Beatport, streaming services like Soundcloud or DJ record pools. Explore the options here!
What Equipment Should a Beginner DJ Have?
The best guide to DJing equipment for beginners. Learn which DJ gear you need to start mixing & which DJ setups are the best for live DJ sets.