Organizing Your Music Library

In the digital age, we are saturated with music. It’s amazing to me that people aren’t more overwhelmed by it. I have 12,297 songs (nearly 700 hours of music, 56.2 GB) in my library, 82% of which I haven’t listened to yet. That does not include some 1,200 tracks that haven’t been added to my library yet. Almost all of my music comes from recommendations and shares by friends. Without some sense of order, I may never be able to listen to it all. But I’m going to try.

To keep things straight, I use the 5-star rating system integrated into the major audio players (I use both Windows Media Player and iTunes to manage my library). Inspired in part by the way friend Greg Stanwood rates movies, I assign each star a qualitative value. To get a 5-star rating, a track must:

Star 1:  Demonstrate strong musical talent
Star 2:  Be recorded and mixed well
Star 3:  Have a captivating arc and appropriate duration
Star 4:  Survive repeat listening
Star 5:  Evoke a notable emotional reaction

Conveniently enough, the result of awarding these stars to tracks informs me how to handle them in the future (I delete tracks that get zero stars):

1 Star:  Never again!
2 Stars:  Not terrible, but no thanks.
3 Stars:  Average, sweet enough to keep at hand.
4 Stars:  Listen again!
5 Stars:  Love and keep forever.

Only tracks that get four or five stars (636 and 265 tracks respectively so far) make it to my iPod or car stereo. With this level of organization, you can bet I have a pretty awesome party mix.

In hopes of discovering new music, I am methodically working my way down the entire library song list to listen to everything I own. Over time, I will share some of my data and ratings with you. Pulling the metadata into excel, I have already discovered my favorite music year so far was apparently 2003!

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