I follow a lot of genres so I end up buying a TON of music on Beatport: last year ~50GB. It's a lot of music to keep track of so I need to be organized. Today's post is on acquisition and how to get your newly downloaded music ready for mixing.

These are the steps I use every time I get new music:

  1. Download everything into a folder
  2. Archive the folder
  3. Create new playlist in iTunes
  4. Add all tracks to playlist
  5. Remove lame "Purchased at Beatport.com" comments
  6. Run files through Mixed in Key
  7. Play / skip through all tracks so key comments are updated
  8. Fix genres
  9. Fix bad BPMs using MixMeister BPM Analyzer
  10. Move albums & compilations to separate playlist

Some of it is pretty obvious, but maybe you'll get something new out of it. Here's details for each step.

1. Download everything into a folder

Beatport Downloader should automatically download everything into a specified folder. I'll usually put other internet downloads into a different folder. This just makes it easy for step 2.

2. Archive the folder

Beatport music costs $$$ and they're not easy about re-downloading of you lose something. Keeping a raw archive of your music downloads also helpful for the times Apple totally fraks up your iTunes and deletes stuff or something goes wrong in Mixed in Key. Always store your music archive on a separate hard drive. It's a big thing to lose your laptop. It's life changing to lose your entire DJ library.

3. Create new playlist in iTunes

I tend to remember music best based on when I bought it, so each purchase is treated as a new iTunes playlist. I organize by year & month starting with a year folder (2011, 2012, 2013). Each purchase playlist is named using source yr/mo like so:

  • Beatport 12/01 pt 1
  • Beatport 12/01 pt 2
  • Beatport 12/02 pt 1

It helps to add "Beatport" to the playlist since many third-party music apps won't recognize iTunes folders.

I don't do much internet / blog downloads, so I just do those quarterly:

  • various 12 Q1
  • various 12 Q2-Q3
  • various 12 Q4
  • various 13 Q1

I'll follow up later with a post on how I organize iTunes folders and playlists for DJing.

4. Add all tracks to playlist

Drag & drop. Wait for them to copy over and iTunes to fully scan everything. I may play a couple of tracks while I wait.

5. Remove "Downloaded from Beatport" and other track comments

You want your comments completely clear for the next step. It's easiest to sort the playlist by comments, highlight all of them that have comments, select Get Info (Cmd-I), check the box next to Comments to change it to blank, and click OK. That should remove comments from all of them.

6. Run files through Mixed in Key

Mixed in Key does key detection on all of your tracks which makes harmonic mixing a lot easier to do.

Select All tracks, but be sure to not select long DJ mixes; Mixed in Key can't handle long format music, but it'll take a long time trying. Drag & drop your tracks into Mixed in Key and let it do its work. This will take a while.

7. Play / skip through all tracks so comments are updated

Play the first track in your playlist. Then hit Next (or right arrow) over and over to go through all of the tracks.

This is dumb but necessary. iTunes doesn't know comments were updated and you need them applied so Traktor can pick them up.

8. Fix genres

Sometimes tracks are miscategorized, other times the genre is too general. This is a good time to fix them. Run through your tracks based based on genre and re-tag any that are in the wrong place.

9. Fix bad BPMs using MixMeister BPM Analyzer

Once you have genres worked out, it's really easy to spot tracks with bad BPMs. Beatport and Mixed in Key both calculate BPMs but once in a while they can be off. MixMeister is usually much more accurate but it's slow and the UI is kludgey. Best to use it for a few tracks at a time.

At the time of writing this post, it looks like MixMeister may have abandoned their BPM Analyzer. It was a free app and I got mine back in 2008, so I know it's still compatible with modern Macs. Try yo grab it from one of the other links (but watch out for malware).

10. Move albums & compilations to separate playlist

Now that you've fixed all the metadata for your tracks, it's best to separate out stuff you're less likely to be mixing. I mostly buy albums and compilations (usually have DJ mixes) for listening so it's best to keep them in a separate playlist:

  • Beatport 13/01 - albums & compilations
  • Beatport 13/02 - albums & compilations

What's nice is you can organize this particular playlist by album instead of genre / key. It also helps to set the metadata for tracks to "Part of a compilation" so they group together accurately.

All done! At this point I usually jump in and start playing stuff.

If you guys have anything to add, leave a comment or ping me on Twitter: @radley

Hope this helps. Next time I'll have tips for organizing iTunes.