How do you organise your music collection?

Whether it’s your physical collection or online. I need ideas. I have everything in alphabetical order, but when you do this you just end up with one giant list which takes ages to scroll through. Would like to divide things up into folders so that my entire collection is compact and fits the screen, but I don’t know where to begin. I tried doing it by genres/sub-genres in rough order of era, which was a nice idea to begin with but a lot of the time I’d end up with one artist/playlist per genre/folder (and too many genre/sub-genre folders that it still wasn’t compact), which was silly.

Somebody on a reddit thread said they organise their music by the decades in which the albums came out, and have decade dividers or something. That seems like a nice idea.

Alphabetical by band and then chronological in each band’s discography. I do this for LPs, 7"s and CDs. 12"s get their own special section that’s unordered as I use them for DJ-ing a lot. On my iPod it’s strictly under artist name. Have used this system since I was thirteen and it works.

EDIT: Didn’t realise you were describing digital media, sorry.

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Chuck it on a shelf. I like rummaging through as i may choose something i hadnt been looking for/listened to in ages


Records & CDs I have compilations together and soundtracks together. 7" & 12" in separate boxes, but I don’t have many. Other than that just alphabetical. There’s always a few oddities but I know my stuff well enough to find easily.

Digital is more difficult as my iTunes had duplicated everything and just had loads of junk some of which I really had no idea of where it had come from. I ended up making playlists with albums I only own digitally in as i never remember about those. Only about 30 albums so I may actually put them on CD-R or cassette.

Have pondered putting my ‘Albums of the Year’ into Spotify playlists but I think life is too short.

Yep I do this for LPs too, really can’t imagine trying anything else with much success.

Tried organising 12"s by style but kinda gave up as I have quite poor shelving discipline, it’s either on the shelf or in an ever increasing stack next to the shelf, which gets periodically re shelved when told to by the tv.

In a big fuckin’ pile.


LPs are shelved according to genre and alphabetical within the genres. Because I DJ with 7" singles they’re via genre but not alphabetised.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones > other stuff.


I used to be very strictly alphabetical but with my lps I have abandoned this for an approach based on feel /“texture”.

The flaw with alphabetical is that things that belong together (like songs ohia and magnolia electric Co. Records or viet cong and preoccupations) end up apart.

So I have on the far left side of my shelves the lightest and most spacious textures (mostly ambient) and on the far right the heaviest and most abrasive (metal then noise) everything else is gradations in between.

Also has the advantage that the TV feels more confident to stick something she doesn’t know on on on a whim as she knows that as long as it doesn’t live on the right it won’t be too “horrid”.

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In Iraq!

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Current arse about tit way of organising my records is grouped by artist and artists are organised chronologically by year of first release which I own, then artists’ releases are organised chronologically. Also if artists have originated as part of a group then their releases tend to live together. So like Paul Simon’s solo stuff is grouped together with &Garfunkel albums (not having any of Art’s solo work helps keep this from getting muddy. Depends how significant that artist is within a group tho, I keep Owen Pallett’s albums separate from Arcade Fire. Collaborations and splits tend to live with one or the other, in the case of Ghostface + BBNG’s album that just lives with Wu-Tang because I have no BBNG, but stuff where I have a few records by both artists like David Byrne / St Vincent or Trust Fund / Joanna Gruesome can change home depending on my mood. Compilations all live right at the end and are again ordered by release.

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Alphabetical within genre sections - 60s/70s, Folk, Folky Rock, Rock/Pop, Punk/Heavy, Jazz, Reggae, Hip-hop, Psych, Electronic, Afro, Rest of World, Esoteric, Classical.

Annoyingly at the moment 60s/70s, Psych, Electronic and Classical are in a different place to the rest so I have been neglecting those particular vibrations.

Also then have a ‘current rotation’ set of about 20-30 CDs next to the player

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Alphabetical by artist, chronological by release date within artist, compilations alphabetical within the same structure by record label or title depending on the theme, soundtracks alphabetical within the same structure by title.

Have a mate whose several thousand vinyls are ordered chronologically by the date he bought them. Which is both amazing and ridiculous.


Oh. LPs and 12"s are all sorted together. 7"s are unsorted in a couple of metal cases. 10"s are sorted separately in the same way as LPs at The end of the shelf.

CDs are sorted using the same logic in a bunch of Billys.

Cassettes are mostly unsorted in a big Kronenbourg box but all the stuff edited together from John Peel sits together.

Physical collection: alphabetical by artist, with artists that record under multiple names grouped together under their most widely-used name (e.g. Iggy and the Stooges are filed under Stooges, Martin Phillips and the Chills under the Chills). 7" are shelved separately.

Digital: folder structures by artist then album. Genre classification would just lead to me pissing around trying to remember what genre something was.

yeah a lot of my CDs have been in shoeboxes since i last moved house, i’ll hunt through them now and then for a particular album and find myself going “ooh i must put this aside for a listen to. ooh and this. and this.”

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I would lose my mind if I had to do that.

haha, normally i have them stacked up somewhere and tend to find things pretty easily, don’t really have a shelf or surface to stack them on my current room though - might stick them all on the living room shelves (half of them have made their way down there already anyone from listening to them down there)

Alphabetically. The exception is that the storage space starts with some of those purpose built free standing CD racks, which I was given by a friend and which are useful but won’t take double CDs or certain thick digipacks. Those CDs that come in just a thin sleeve instead of a case DO fit, but look ridiculous sitting in the rack and they are wasting space. Hence non-standard CD sizes go further down in the collection, in the part that is just stacked side by side on the bookshelf.

Strictly speaking, then, my collection is ordered first by type of case, then by artist name, then by release name. So if I am searching for Anathema, i have to remember that A Natural Disaster and We’re Here Because We’re Here are in the rack under ‘A’, but Weather Systems is in the bookshelf because it’s a thick digipack that won’t fit in the rack.

“Alphabetical order” is a simple concept that actually hides a myriad of potential issues. Obviously I follow the usual practice of ordering by artist surname. Someone who was not of European cultural background might have trouble figuring out why Van Halen was not next to Van Morrison (if I had any Van Halen). Likewise Elton John and Jethro Tull both get filed under ‘J’. “Elton John” is a person’s name. Although Jethro Tull was a real person, it’s not the name of the performer; there is no Mr Tull playing on the record. The thing is, though, that it requires knowledge about the artist. This is not a problem for me because it’s my collection and I know why everything is where it is, but it’s an issue I would have to address if I wanted to run a music shop. Where would I file Alice Cooper? “Alice Cooper” was originally the name of a band, not a person, so should go under ‘A’. At a certain point though the lead singer changed his name to Alice Cooper and recorded as a solo artist, so that definitely goes under ‘C’. Splitting Alice Cooper releases into two sections seems ridiculous and would require that a novice buyer were able to distinguish between the early Alice Cooper band releases and the solo releases.

Classical releases, of course, get filed by name of the composer, mainly because I usually can’t remember who the player or the orchestra is, I just know I want to listen to Beethoven’s Sixth. This could conceivably create issues, because it’s not unusual for classical releases to contain works by different composers; for example, Debussy and Ravel often get grouped together on a release. In my case they go under ‘D’ because Debussy is my primary reason for owning the disc.

Filing by genre just would not work for me, because I have a number of CDs where I would have to make awkward decisions about classification. It annoys me that in record shops I see porcupine tree in the “Heavy metal” section, because only a very small fraction of their work could be described as heavy or metal; and I would not normally browse that section of the store because I have little interest in acts like Black sabbath, Metallica or Megadeth.

Ultimately, the best filing system for you is the one that owrks for you,

A couple of years ago I chucked all my cd cases away and put all the discs in a couple of huge cd wallets, ones that hold 400 each or something.

I have the 50 or so most recent albums I’ve bought in a couple of smaller cd wallets in the car. Then every few months i put the ones I’m bored of in the massive wallets, never to be listened to again.

It’s a poor system, but it works for me, and it’s extremely liberating not having hundreds of cd cases cluttering up the flat