It's that time of year! Springtime means spring cleaning. But between tackling your kitchen, bath and the rest of your home, don’t neglect cleaning up your digital space, too. A tidy hard drive means peace-of-mind for those who get heavy use from their computer. So to get you started down that path, here are tips for organizing your digital music library.
Bite the bullet with an online music service
Honestly, it’s 2016. If you’re already buying an album a month, it’s worth it to sign up for a subscriptions such as Spotify or Apple Music. On-demand services like these remove the size limit of your library, as well as all those incomplete albums or missing tags. Other services like Google Music and Amazon Prime also allow cloud storage. For those with already-sizable collections, this can free up quite a bit of memory. But if you’ve got a lot of hard-to-find releases, or you’re simply just not into the idea…
Start by fixing your tags
You can do this by hand by selecting each album, clicking on “Get info” in iTunes and inputting the missing tags. Windows Media Player automates the process; click on the Organize menu, then Options > Library > Automatic media information updates for files > Retrieve additional information from the Internet.
There are programs that can totally take care of this process for you. TuneUp (which you may remember from its Biz Markie and Andy Milonakis endorsement spot) is commonly recommended. The program totally takes care of tagging with a simple drag-and-drop interface. It’ll also set you back $40. For a free, open-source alternative, check out MusicBrainz Picard, which gives you more control over the process.
You may be tempted to get creative with the genre tags, but if you use iTunes, sticking to their Genre IDs Appendix will help Genius make more accurate recommendations.
Lastly, take this time to go ahead and add your album art. In iTunes, select File > Library > Add Album Artwork, then manually add those which aren't in their database.
Delete your duplicates
In iTunes, you can do this by selecting View > Show Duplicate Items. This will show originals alongside their copies, so make sure that you’re selecting only the items you want to delete before you commit.
In Windows Media Player, this will need to be done by sorting your library by track title and combing through item-by-item.
Make use of playlists
Live-updating playlists can be a lifesaver when it comes to managing larger collections. Start by making a backlog to see any music you haven't listened to yet. Create an automatic playlist (File > New Smart Playlist in iTunes or Library > Create Playlist > Create Auto Playlist in Windows) where the media kind is “Music” and plays are equal to 0.
Setting up a playlist of music with over a certain number of plays or skips is an easy way to rate your library. Or try creating a rule where genre is “Holiday” or “Books & Spoken Word,” selecting all and unchecking for a way to exclude these tracks when shuffling or to keep them out of your Genius playlists. Lastly…
KonMari your Library
Marie Kondo is the organizing guru who authored The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her KonMari method centers on getting rid of the objects in your life that don’t bring you joy. It’s easy to adapt that philosophy to digital belongings, too.
Start by creating an automatic playlist where Last Played is earlier than two years ago. Are the albums that show up worth keeping around? Maybe they deserve a second chance. But face it, your scene phase is long dead. Maybe it’s time to stick those Millionaires albums in an external drive. Save your space for music you routinely enjoy.
If you have more tips for organizing music libraries, leave a comment below, or tweet us at @VoxMag.