Whether using Serato, Traktor, Rekordbox etc. all DJs need to structure their music library. It helps you perform better at live gigs and play more of the music you intended to. Personally, I have been a Serato user for more than ten years, spinning Hip-Hop/ Open Format. Here is my 2¢ of the story…
1. Create a main folder
Yes it’s that simple. I remember gigs searching nervously through “All…” my Serato by BPM. Weird remixes and songs I never heard of popped up, not anymore. Currently, I am using eight sub folders like ‘sureshots’, ‘bass’ or ‘throwback’ with a max of 100 songs each. You don’t need more than that. I update my main folder every week so it stays fresh. Of course I spice things up, playing songs from the top of my head or other crates too. But it gives me more freedom and keeps my focus on the crowd. Depending on the venues and genres you play, identify your main folder.
2. Use consistent cue points
All my songs are analyzed with set BPM, key and genre.
But also I am using the “traffic lights” cue points system:
Red = Start/ Intro
Yellow = Hook/ Build up
Green = Verse/ Drop
Blue = Outro/ Instrumental
Typing short infos in my cue point tags helps a lot; f.e. ‘intro bars’, ‘drop’ etc. As I know most of my songs by heart and have my cues points sorted I don’t need my headphones that often.
3. Prepare strong sets
You don’t need crazy tone plays or wild scratch performances to create strong sets. But having routines of songs that work together very well always helps to get (back) into your zone. I organize all my sets by BPM range and they usually start with an “opener”. That means, whatever song or genre is playing, I can just echo out and start my set from the top. Also, I am using ‘dead files’ as breaks to separate my sets. See pics below, they will appear orange in Serato DJ.
4. Tag your songs
I used to have separate folders for my warm-up, new songs, special venues etc. But thereby your songs will appear in many folders, which makes it difficult to clean your crates. Today I just tag them in my comments. Type in the search term and all your selected songs will pop up. I avoid having trouble with existing file tags by using hashtags like: #new, #warmup #opener #mustplay etc.
5. Size it down
Once a year I clear all my Serato files – yes down to zero! Right before that I am sorting, tagging and then exporting all my folders as mp3 files on my hard drive, then delete the old folders and re-import. Sounds like a headache? Not really if you done it once. It gives you a better overview and a lot of head space while DJing.
I know there are many more features to use like smart crates, iTunes library etc. But I like my system clean and easy. Let me know what you think and feel free to post constructive feedback!