The Art Of Prep – 5 Principles Every DJ Should Know

Casual observers of the musical arts assume that most of the creative process happens on stage.  While it may be true that inspiration and improvisation create amazing results in the moment, great preparation tee’s those moments up in the first place. Without a comfortable base created by consistent discipline the creative mind never has the chance to fully play.

Here are five critical areas of disciplined preparation that are one way to form a creative base for expressive DJing. Ultimately everyone needs to find their own system, but these are some timeless principles that might help you get started.

1. Rock Solid Track Import System

I need to make a video that demostrates this more in detail but here are the basics of my system called:

“Never lose a track in your DJ software again” 

  • Only use iTunes to manage all of your DJ music (lose the folders)
  • Set iTunes to copy all songs into the library on import
  • Turn off “Keep iTunes organized”
  • Every new song is dragged into iTunes (and therefore copied into the database)
  • Songs are analyzed by Mixed In Key before Traktor import
  • Songs are ONLY imported into Traktor or other DJ software through iTunes playlist import or through the software’s iTunes browser

This creates a consistent path for your DJ music that will never be moved or deleted. If you are managing MP3s in various places and keeping them in random folders, things will get moved and then they will go missing at critical points during a set.

2. Regular Track Searching 

Got a big gig on Friday but have not played out in 12 weeks? The last minute addition of 30 new songs to your playlist may achieve the goal of bringing in some “new bangers” but it will be largely counterproductive. Nine times out of ten, it’s more important that the right track be played at the right time – and less important that it be purchased recently. To really know what the right track is – it’s important to really “know” the tracks, and that can only happen after a good amount of plays. I recommend:

  • Setting a time every few days for regular 20 minute digging sessions.
  • This should hopefully add a few tracks a week at a digestible pace while keep the collection fresh.
  • Listening to the songs fully from beginning to end many times (I like to put them on my iPod) to find great mix points and get the feel.

This last point leads to our next principle:

3. Consistent Track Tagging

The obvious tip here is to consistently tag the meta tags of your songs with keywords, genres, and other searchable cues so songs can be easily tracked down in the heat of a set. We have covered that extensively in the past. The less obvious is to establish a consistent system of cue point tagging for ALL songs. With this system you may not always remember every detail of a track, but it’s obvious where everything is. Here are my personal favorites:

  1. Load Markers: Always save the down beat so you never have to cue again
  2. Fade Out Markers: Mark the natural mix out spot so it does not sneak up on you
  3. Cue Points: Mark the verse/chorus, or other major changes so they can be recognized before they happen

You may not have time to add your cue point system to every song but make it a rule to always prepare every NEW song with your tagging system.

4. Daily Rhythm, Technique Exercises, and Review

Many musical experts have said that 20 minutes of practice a day produces better long term results than a single two hour practice session once a week. No matter what the technical skill; mix, juggling or scratching, regular daily practice sessions will lead to amazing moments on stage.
Here is one great exercise for beat juggling timing we covered last year.

5. Consistent Recording and Review 

You are probably recording your best sets and saving them but what about the bad ones? Do they ever get listened to? I would suggest that you record and listen to every single practice session and live DJ set. Then, even though it might be painful, force yourself to listen and learn through the entire thing.

Pro athletes employ a rigorous system of self-analysis for a simple reason. The recording won’t lie, and slip-ups are obvious in retrospect. Recording gives you the opportunity to sit in the audiences seat and be your own best critic.

For the Funk Phenomenon routine, I video recorded myself practicing the routine at least twelve times. Watching those tapes helped me see what sections where lagging in energy and which sections looked really interesting.

dj prepiTuneslibrary managementpreparing for DJ gigs
Comments (133)
Add Comment
  • 4 Missing Features From Serato DJ: 2019 Wishlist - DJ TechTools

    […] of music, duplicate tracks can present a problem to anybody trying to stay on top of their library. Though there are a million ways to avoid duplicates in one’s library, the Serato community still harps on about this rudimental feature, one that has been available in […]

  • pink bunny dildo

    pink bunny dildo

    […]Here are some of the web pages we advise for our visitors[…]

  • Less Of Tour

    Less Of Tour

    […]that will be the end of this write-up. Here you will discover some websites that we consider you?ll enjoy, just click the hyperlinks over[…]

  • best anal desensitizer

    best anal desensitizer

    […]just beneath, are several totally not connected websites to ours, on the other hand, they are certainly really worth going over[…]

  • Jay Lee

    Why don’t you create canvas prints you’ll love!? As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Improve Your Decor Skills and Discover #CanvasPrints at Busiest UK Site ?? parrotprintcanvaa com

  • bleedinng

    If you want to free download the alternative to Foobar2000 for Mac andindows to play MP3, MP4, AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, etc and convert between any audio formats.I suggest Avdshare Video Converter

  • inpendetrion

    If you want to free download the alternative to Foobar2000 for Mac andindows to play MP3, MP4, AAC, CD Audio, WMA, Vorbis, Opus, FLAC, etc and convert between any audio formats.I suggest Avdshare Video Converter

  • go to my site


    […]just beneath, are numerous totally not related sites to ours, however, they are surely worth going over[…]…

  • critchy09

    I have ben slowly adding my CD collection to iTunes as well as adding dozens of new digital tracks daily. I had the same issues with iTunes crashing my software until I De Activated the KEEP iTUNES MEDIA FOLDER ORGANISED. Then my database containing around 120GB of music is perfectly accessible from Traktor and recently Serato DJ… I feel your pain but one simple clicked solved it.

  • ithinkmynameismoose

    Question: I have a new laptop and I have been using itunes to store all of my music. Now how do I get my new music into the new computer? It’s a larger file and all…

  • marc

    real dj play 12″! suckers!

  • Drunk Bastard

    im drunk and just skimmed through the article, as my eyes and brain do not want to let me read it, even though I want to. however, it looks like an amazing article and I can’t wait to read it in it’s entirety tomorrow! Lovin’ it Ean!

  • Ismael E.

    I use rapid evolution 3 to only detect the key both in key and key code write the tags. Then I drag and drop them on mp3tag to edit genre. And that about it. 5 new songs for each genre I play seems to be what works best once week ( I play like 8 genres so that is 40 songs a week). I practice one genre for small 15 to 20 min mix get me familiar with the new songs and working them in with my old stuff.

  • MikeE

    Itunes + Smart Playlists + Consistent Tagging + Serato FTW

    Itunes is shit if you don’t use it right, amazing if you do. But, if you don’t keep an eye on your metadata it will give you problems. Religiously update your “recently added” metadata, set up smart playlists based on tempo, genre, label (grouping) and rating (use stars as a way to remember you top tunes).

    Delete anything below X bitrate on a regular basis. keep an eye on duplicates, use last FM to get an idea of regularily played tunes…

  • Kenny

    this really doesn’t have to do with one of the 5 principles of DJ’ing you mentioned, but it does mention iTunes.. I feel like I’m the only one that does this: I have all my music separated into folders by BPM (60-69, 70-79, 80-89…..120-129, 130+) and this method is the best that works for me. but fucking iTunes creates a copy of a song into it’s iTunes folders whenever i want to play a song from one of these BPM folders. so essentially I have double of my music library. it just irritates me that i have 2,000+ tracks and a copy of each and every single one of them on my laptop. that takes up a lot of unneeded space.

  • Volker

    (writing this late as a good tool wasn’t mentioned so far)
    Note: working on a mac

    1st: if needed/wanted, convert format

    Tool: Switch,

    2nd: mp3 (flac, aiff, m4a) tagging

    – check correctness of tags

    – clear comment tag (to be filled by MixedInKey)

    – clear genre tag (I disagree on most genrefications)

    – if no tags, get them via gnu cddb

    Tool for all of the above (and more): Media Rage,

    3rd: determine key and bpm

    Tool: mixed in key

    4th: put in loco correcto

    DJ-only songs go directly on the music hdd, using my personal folder structure.
    Complete records or songs that I like but are not intended for sets go into iTunes (with “import” and “organize” checkboxes both enabled.

    This results in two base folders, both on the same external hard drive. The iTunes Media folder (settings::advanced) is set to point the the external disk.

    5th: update Traktor

    Traktor has two folders defined in settings::file locoations:: music folders

    If something changed on the harddrive:

    5.1. import music folders

    5.2. check consistency (remove all missing in case you moved stuff around)

    Note: I do not rely too much on grids (still enjoying manual beatmatching), but as far as I know, if you lock the grid, the grid infos (and cues?) are stored in the file itself (if the file format supports tags). Any details/corrections on this assumtion are welcome.

    Other stuff:

    Backup is done via time machine (music hdd = 1 TB, TM = 2TB), just make sure that the external disk is NOT listed in the excluded items in Time Machine settings.

    Using the disk on two macs: this is a little bit more tricky but works nicely for me.This iTunes Library managed on my iMac. When I’m “moving” to my macbook, I copy my ~/Music/iTunes folder to the music hdd and copy it OVER the ~/Mucis/iTunes folder on the macbook. That way, all iTunes playlists and file (infos) are available in Traktor.

    IMORTANT: Quit iTunes before copying the iTunes folder!

    Works also the other way back in case I made changes to iTunes on the macbook.

    The overall process looks like this:

    1 – manage files, tags, keys, etc on my imac (see above) using the connected external music disk

    2 – import (some files) to iTunes, copy others to the music disk

    3 – quit iTunes

    4 – copy ~/Music/iTunes folder to the music disk

    5 – eject the disk on the iMac, plug it into the macbook

    6 – copy the iTunes folder from the disk to ~/Music

    7 – start Traktor, import music folders and check consistency

    Bonus tip that only works well for OS X:

    If both machines are connected via network, you can share the external music disk on the macbook. If you then open this shared folder on the iMac, you can start iTunes as if the music disk is plugged in directly. (Although it’s slower, but fast enough for playback).

  • theMichaelShane

    this media monkey thing looks like spam. has anyone legit tried it? wtf is it all about.

    • Yarn Audio

      Yes, this spammy guy is annoying!

      I used MediaMonkey on Windows some time ago. It’s great and has lots of possibilities / addons. One thing i really enjoyed was the possibility to actually use the “publisher” tag. So I can easily find all the stuff released on one label. I don’t understand why iTunes does not support this.

      On a Mac you can run MediaMonkey using Wine but it will be very slow.

  • DJ Dabbledoo

    media monkey does not support AIFF format

  • Hatim Kamel


  • Deejay Blendrix

    Great stuff here! Excellent starting point for new DJs, and a much-needed reminder for the veterans. I do have a few items to add:

    Re: Keying Tracks —

    I have been using Mixed In Key for the last couple years to reduce the
    effort in finding a track that matches the key of the current track in a
    pinch. The problem I’ve run into is that its algorithm is still not as
    accurate as I’d like, and it’s pretty expensive.

    I recently found a program that does the same thing, for FREE. It’s
    called KeyFinder, by Ibrahim Sha’ath. It’s available for Mac and
    Windows, faster (by far) than MIK, and seems to do a better job of
    detecting the key. If you like the Camelot key system that MIK uses, you
    can follow this chart to set up KeyFinder to write your key tags as

    Rapid Evolution ( is good too, but
    it’s a Java app, so it’s a bit slow, and its algorithm is not great at
    getting the key right the first time. However, it does offer the option
    to analyze the key at the start AND end of the track, so it can be
    useful with those tracks that modulate their root key part of the way
    through. It also offers a few other interesting analysis algorithms to
    help you categorize and sort your tracks more effectively, such as the
    “beat intensity” analysis. More on that next.

    Re: Categorizing Tracks —

    I use the starring system in iTunes to indicate the track’s
    rhythmic/melodic intensity. For example, the hardest bangers in my
    library get 5 stars, and the most mellow, ambient ones get 1 star. I
    figure that I won’t be using the starring system for actually rating the
    quality of the tracks, because if it’s a lame track, it shouldn’t be in
    my library to begin with. I’m currently using my own ears to judge the
    intensity of the track, but
    as mentioned earlier, Rapid Evolution does offer a “beat intensity”
    analysis feature that could help shave some time from that process if
    you’re on a deadline.

    Once my tracks are all tagged with appropriate key, intensity, BPM,
    genre, and other information, I can easily sort my massive track library
    on the fly, and quickly find the tracks that I know will play well with
    the set, and will keep the crowd engaged. The only thing worse than
    having too few tracks to select from is having too many, without a
    system that allows a process of elimination. 

    • Bis

      What an excellent post. Thanks for the links. And the star idea on iTunes is a great one that I never thought about. Love it!

    • Edwin

      Thanks for pointing me to the KeyFinder app. I was using MixedInKey but it hasn’t got the option of skipping the file analysis when there is already meta data in the file.
      When you move files to other folders, MixedInKey’s db sees it as a new file and wants to do the analysis again.
      KeyFinder does have the option and it saves me a lot of time, trusting that indeed the analysis is slightly better than MixedInKey.

  • DaftBot

    I started DJing over 10 years ago but I got hurt, it had to take a back seat but it was always a passion I had. Now I’m restarting my career and these are tools that are no posted above my home set up to remind me. Thank you.

  • Calkutta

    i have had both good and bad experiences with this.if you have a mac that you use just for djing mainly,this works great.
    but if you have everything you ever downloaded from 1999 forward,it bogs no matter if its got a zillion gigs of ram and 5 cores…anyway,great article.
    thanks yo’
    p.s. more ram does usually fix this.but macs are a’ falling…sucks.

  • Djgriffin

    Great article and comments!
     I use Media Monkey to organize, tag and manage my music For me, the best information from this article is hearing everyone’s workflow (You too Ean!).. So here’s mine: (all on the Desktop PC before moving to DJ Laptop)

    1. All new tracks got to review folder, sorted by month and imported into media monkey for review/delete.

    2. Good tracks are copied to my “Traktor Sync folder”. This serves as the backup for my traktor HD and is also backup on second External HD. (can you have too many backups?)

    3.Tracks are tagged and run through Mixed in Key (I’ve used this software since my CDJ days – Love it) If you are using Media Monkey(MM), I rescan after using MIK because file names are changed. I have mapped MM tempo and key to match Traktor tag formats.

    4. Tracks are then moved to the Traktor external HD and are imported to Traktor.

    5. Beatgridding, cue points and playlists are completed.

    6. Now it’s time to play!

    If you are using Media Monkey, I highly recommend exploring two addon/scripts”
    1. Database backup. This is a must have..
    2. “Switch or copy fields” I use the “Mood” category in MM and copy it to the “comment 1” section for Traktor tag import. Moods are energy levels etc. This can be done as a batch operation on all the files selected. great tool.

    I will echo the thoughts of Ean and others in the past, it’s not the number of track you have in your systems, it’s the great music you play that’s most important!

    When I started spinning in 1985, I quickly realized that I would have to get rid of songs that just didn’t work and I would pull the records out of the crate (since I had to lug those #%@! creates into the club three nights a week). When I switched to using CDJs (1999) I would do the same thing with CDs and for the last few years of using Traktor, I continue this trend. It’s what works for me…

  • Brian Tang

    I hugely disagree with using itunes to manage your music — especially only importing via itunes playlist. Sharing itunes playlists across multiple computers is virtually impossible, not to mention the drive on which your music’s on would have to match. I highly recommend software agnostic music management. 

  • Scott Mccall

    For me, I just decided this day forward I’m going to mark and cue and key all my tracks right after I buy them. I didn’t worry about my archive becuase the task is daunting. Song by song everything I have now has a once over with breakdowns and buildups, loops always mapped to the 8 cues. I use traktor pro and now I can sort by key and every track is nicely prepared for banging the pads. Its almost a habit now to thoroughly prepare a track before ever playing it and jamming itfor the first time and mixed in key etc. just sharing my technique, one of many around here:)

  • PsyEntz

    I tunes works just fine for organizing my 10,000 song library…

  • muck

    I am a big fan of winamp and mp3tag (  Winamp playlists import with ease into Traktor and work great for making crates.

  • AJ

    I do the following process for managing music:
    1. Incoming folder (where all bought and ‘borrowed music is thrown in)
    2. processing (mixed in key + fixing tags + adding info such as label & release date)
    3. sort (put into real folders, the structure is  mood/style/intensity
    4. then i make playlists in a separate folder or through itunes (never becomes bloated because i just manage the playlists there
    5. import into traktor/serato or burn playlists into cd’s

    track searching is done once or twice a week or if i am particularly enamored by an artist or label while sorting. the act of pain-in-the-ass sorting forces me to listen to themusic and make conscious decisions on what mood/style/intensity it is. its a neverending process and I get to know my stuff really well.

    I also keep track of mix sets I make by holding on to the tracklist in a physical folder with duplicates of the other sorted folder. These are helpful during complicated moments spinning where shooting in the dark track by track affects the long term effect of a set. Like said in the article, I always listen to my sets to learn how to improve flow and selection.

    I’ve had music monkey for a while but havent really used it much. after all the positive recommendations ill see how i can integrate it into my process. In the end, if your software sorts EVERYTHING automatically, you might as well let it do the spinning for you too.

  • Dr. Funk

    Thanks a bunch to those who referred Media Monkey. After just a bit of use I didn’t hesitate to go ahead and get Media Monkey Gold. Hands down the best media manager by far, and shows the joke of media managing that iTunes does.

  • M.P.

    I’ll post it here again as I have no clue how this website display replies. Anyway…. Quick test of iTunes alternatives:
    I tested Media monkeySongbird and Foobar2000
    Beside functionality (Foobar wins for me as it copies actual files to new folders while dragging and creating folders, etc. – not just playlists) I was focusing on sound quality. And OMG there is a huge sound difference!Foobar2000 wins hands down. Like having 100 Euro worth sound card. Sound is   Amazing! (Go Poland!).Next is Songbird – good sound quality a nd lots of plugins like in Firefox (Same company)Mediamonkey – Sound is just mediocre. OK I say for casual music listening. Pretty functional and ready to use out of the box (no configuration needed) – SO it wins there, however light years away from Foobar2000 sound.  
    I used standard build in laptop sound card. Yes – there is a difference in sound quality (used codecks). 
    Foobar is simply the best if you have some background with winamp plugins and stuff. You can get it to work perfectly for you but you will need to spend some time to get there. But is definitely worth it.
    Songbird is perfectly in the middle for easy plugins and cool options and cool skins, etc. 
    MediaMonkey – well works and looks ready to go straight away. I have no clue regarding plugins. Library is most similar to iTunes, however sound quality unfortunately as well.
    I did not tried Trainspotter yet as after initial config simply crashed and is not working anymore and I have no clue how to get it back to work without re-installing Windows so F*k it for now. I’ll try it again later. 
    Again… Native Instruments. Please buy off Foobar2000 and make it your tool for Traktor (God damn it!). Or at least – somebody, please make it work with Traktor cue’s. You can write plugin for it. I am unfortunately not that kind of guy.

  • Lance Blaise


    I have a similar system for how my stuff is in itunes, but i had “Keep Itunes organized” turned on… is there an easy way to fix all of my old stuff without having to redo my whole setup?

  • Jareth

    Just a great article, keep it Ean. Exactly what I was looking for. Thank you.

  • M.P.

    WHY N.I. DID NOT CREATED “TRAKTOR MEDIA MONKEY” ALREADY? Pioneer has Record box, why don’t they make finally some media management software to work with Traktor, export al cues, and all that stuff? Simple plug in for Firebird will do. It’s only me who sees huge gap here on the market? Hello N.I. WAKE UP!!!

  • Ean Golden

    Hey guys, I appreciate all the constructive feedback on Itunes.  a few points: 

    agreed, itunes has become a beast over the last 4 years and is the not the simple music managment tool it once was. 

    agreed, there are other tools that might be better and lighter. The main point is to use some central point of organization (itunes or not) that collects all of our music in one place automatically. 

    You can then use that tool to auto sort, create custom playlists and manage in bulk (not possible with folders) and then move all of your music easily in one stroke. 

    That being said, there are many different ways to crack an egg so please continue to tell us how you do it! 

  • xavier steel

    I love that other ppl have also commented on using itunes as a negative. I completely agree my main reason is COMPRESSION. I am not sure about the newest versions but when itunes “analyzes” your music it is actually compressing your file when it copies it to the itunes library – DJs SHOULD NOT USE THIS FUNCTIONALITY if they insist on using itunes!!!!!

    YOUR TRACKS that you PAID good $$$$ for are now going to be a shadow of the original masterpiece you downloaded. Take a look at this article,_Thanks%21.html  to avoid compression if you are going to continue to use ITUNES. 

    I personally highly reccomend a windows-only software (i have a PC at home that acts as my media server, for just this reason) called Media Monkey It is also completely free for a basic version (which is pretty much capable of everything itunes does + a whole lot more in a much more intuitive manner. I have been using this to organize my music for over 4 yrs. I have tried pretty much every organizing/tagging software for this purpose on both operating systems when i tell u that Media Monkey is A BREATH OF FRESH AIR I mean it!! 

    Some of my favorite features in terms of organizing & tagging music. 
    – browse hard drive folders thru a tree menu from the left pane.          

    – move, copy, cut, paste, rename, and create new folders from this same area
    – Highlight any field double click (fast) to edit it or press F2 (allows for VERY VERY quick editing) – traktor does a pretty similiar thing if you allow editing inline thru the settings.
    – once a field is being edited pressing tab allows you to move through the fields. 

    – click the arrow next to any track title, artist, or album to seach wikipedia, google, amazon or a few other options for file info (opens a browser window) (I use the google option)

    – autotag from file name

    – edit multiple tags, tracks all at once (it updates the file automatically, and shows up in ANY dj program, i use both serato and traktor religiously) 

    – very simple easy to use coverart feature. Other Features that KILL itunes:

    -Duplicate tracks (once tracks have been added to the library) are automatically scanned for. You can view/edit them by title or by my favorite feature “duplicate content” which analyzes tracks via various criteria (similar file size, length, artist, title)

    -disc burning is awesome! 

    -Unbelievable playlists creation and smart playlist capabilities. also you can right click on any file and send to an existing playlist, create a new one, or copy, export, and do so much more!! 

    – All playlists and folders are analyzed for batch filesize, # of tracks, total length (time). Also provides the same information for any selected tracks (or group of selected tracks – helps immensely when burning cds) 

    – Playlists can be exported in multiple ways including excel spreadsheets and xml, and html!! I wish they exported to .NML!! BUT they do have the ability to incorporate USER SCRIPTS to achieve various tasks – im sure someone at DJTT is capable to taking a crack at these!!

    -DRAG AND DROP FILES AND PLAYLISTS DIRECTLY TO IPODS/IPADS or ANY OTHER MEDIA PLAYER or PHONE!!!!!!!!!!!!  Share via DLNA and convert MP3s, M4A, OGG, FLAC, WMA, MP4, AVI, and WMV to support most devices.

    – Manage any audio / video genres: Rock, Classical, Audiobooks, Podcasts, Home movies, tv, 

    -Latest version introduced tabbed windows – keep multiple lists, folders and directories open and copy and paste files to and from!!! very very productive!!!


    • marinelli

      man what are you talking about?
      i have no idea, what you did, but itunes never compressed a single file when importing.

    • Bis

      Xavier, how do I make the MediaMonkey database friendly with Serato? SSL only imports iTunes databases! You seem to say in your comment that you have gotten them to co-mingle together? Any tips on creating this dream-come-true situation would be amazing man!!! email me if you must, I really appreciate your input: djbis [@] djbis . com

    • Justin Hollingsworth

      When you copy into iTunes it only compresses if you have it set that way in preferences. Unless iTunes is secretly compressing my .WAV files into crappy mp3 files and then converting them back into shitty .WAV files just to trick us.

  • Civ142000

    I am a firm believer of “do whatever the hell works for you, and shut up”

  • John Garza

    I’ve used iTunes for quite a while and have had no problems, either I’m the 1% or some people have crappy ass computers and blame it crashing on iTunes because the computer, say, couldn’t run it. I am on PC by the way. I just wish beat port would release that media managing thing they did for Mac on PC.

  • Lylax

    IM going to disagree with the itunes idea.

    be consistent, and think about your collection. dont revamp it every 3 years. be consistent.

    if using a MAC use colored labels to help you label folders.

    at this point I would invest in a solid state drive and start building your collection with Traktor in mind. take any faulty spinning hardware out of your moblie dj setup to keep clear of spinup errors/ constant check disk.

     playlists and such can all be made in traktor. but keeping file consistency is key.

    I use in folder structures,
    release year / Genre / A-Z-0-9/
    you can swap genre and year depending…..but its not too hard.
    keep the constancy and buy a copy of diskwarrior for your mac along with an SSD. structure and consistency should not be an issue.

    why use itunes convoluted program to run tasks that traktor can perform. itunes is by far the worst program ever created for music management.

  • Lance Blaise

    I have a similar system for how my stuff is in itunes, but i had “Keep Itunes organized” turned on… is there an easy way to fix all of my old stuff without having to redo my whole setup?

  • Blonathan Pars

    When using an iTunes library in Traktor be sure to disconnect from the internet because iTunes will tell Traktor about your DRM protected songs and if anyone here is like me, we didnt pay for shit.  I had about 3000 songs lock out of my once at a gig and had to delete the songs from my mac and reload them once all traces were removed.  

    iTunes for library mgmt = Bad Idea

    use a master folder with all of your tracks and import that one folder to Traktor
    or make a folder to contain your crates and work from that. 

  • Ronald Edwards

    As a general advice column, I don’t see general advice in part 1. I see one way and that one way is presumed to be the “one right way” because the article is written by Ean Golden (a man with considerable respect on the topic of DJing on a computer).

    I understand the hate for iTunes as I personally have run into too many problems with it myself and will not tolerate the quirks it has. For users with small-to-moderate libraries, iTunes can be very useful, but it should not be seen as the one best way to manage files. There are so many other options (as illustrated by other users) and this single point should be seen as “Ean’s preference” because there are other ways and they are arguably better.

    Perhaps I read this wrong, but I understand the article suggests removing folders altogether. For the life of me, I cannot see removing my media folders for the simple reason that file names can be exactly the same from one album to another even though they are different. IF this is what is suggested, *I WILL NOT TAKE THE ADVICE GIVEN* and I recommend that you also *DO NOT FOLLOW THIS ADVICE*. I’m no Superstar DJ, but I’ve been a Database Architect and organized my music collection in folders (on my computers) for 16 years for my personal use. In that time I have tried many things that worked and many that haven’t. One folder without sub-folders becomes a gigantic mess and takes a LONG time to access and diminishes the value of displaying data.

    Unsolicited advice regarding music storage: I recommend naming a top-tier folder for your Library, ONE folder for each Artist and inside that, a folder for each Album. Every DJ program out there will be able to read through the top-level folder and sort all of your music (inside it) in it’s own interactive manner, just make sure to put all of your music into one folder (I call mine “Music Library”) and make back-ups of that library to another physical hard drive every whenever you can’t afford to lose the changes to your database. Be certain you are copying from the Active Library TO the Backup hard drive (file mis-matches may occur if you reverse the process and then conduct the process correctly). Keeping files in folders helps you manage the actual files should you choose to ever change or move them.

    More unsolicited advice regarding music storage: Also, make sure to buy a large internal hard drive for your laptop and put your music files there, REASON: 1) You do not want to be playing a set and hear the tell-tale sign of a hard drive disconnecting during your set (or silently just not working anymore because it got unplugged). 2) Internal bus speeds are faster than external speeds and while this doesn’t often matter as much, it can mean the difference between a song loading before another song ends and not (leaving you hanging with dead air). 3) USB ports are always at a premium and filling a port with a hard drive isn’t necessary. 4) One more thing to plug in is one more thing to clean up and potentially forget about/break when you leave wherever you’re playing.

  • h_m

    There is a  one thing  I dont understand. Why to Turn Off Keep Itunes organized ? What if I want to  import complet album/EP ? I want it to be in album/EP folder instead of having all files in Artist folder. 

  • M.P.

    Does anybodu uses Trainspotter

    Or SongBird:

    Foobar2000 maybe?:

    I need to choose one (iTunes – no way) soon to start organising my library. I think I will start with Trainspotter. Any experience with above anybody?

    • Ewan Matheson

      None of the above.  Go with MediaMonkey if you haven’t tried it.  Very very good – seems to be one of the few you can also get Apple devices working with.

    • Anonymous

      Go with foobar2000. In my opinion it’s a much better solution than songbird or mediamonkey. I’m in the process of trying out the portable version so that I can have two music libraries, one for my “normal” collection and one for my dj tracks. I’ll try to write up an article and send it to djtt, maybe they want to post it, as Ean seems to focus on Mac users only.

      Trainspotter is alright, but the GUI isn’t that great. I use it to find covers and tag genres. For everything else tagging use foobar2000 or mp3tag (for larger batches of files).

    • M.P.


      I tested Media monkey
      Songbird and 

      Beside functionality (Foobar wins for me as it copies actual files to new folders while dragging and creating folders, etc. – not just playlists) I was focusing on sound quality. And OMG there is a huge sound difference!Foobar2000 wins hands down. Like having 100 Euro worth sound card. Sound is   Amazing! (Go Poland!).Next is Songbird – good sound quality a nd lots of plugins like in Firefox (Same company)
      Mediamonkey – Sound is just mediocre. OK I say for casual music listening. Pretty functional and ready to use out of the box (no configuration needed) – SO it wins there, however light years away from Foobar2000 sound.  

      I used standard build in laptop sound card. Yes – there is a difference in sound quality (used codecks). 

      Foobar is simply the best if you have some background with winamp plugins and stuff. You can get it to work perfectly for you but you will need to spend some time to get there. But is definitely worth it.

      Songbird is perfectly in the middle for easy plugins and cool options and cool skins, etc. 

      MediaMonkey – well works and looks ready to go straight away. I have no clue regarding plugins. Library is most similar to iTunes, however sound quality unfortunately as well.

      I did not tried Trainspotter yet as after initial config simply crashed and is not working anymore and I have no clue how to get it back to work without re-installing Windows so F*k it for now. I’ll try it again later. 

      Again… Native Instruments. Please buy off Foobar2000 and make it your tool for Traktor (God damn it!). Or at least – somebody, please make it work with Traktor cue’s. You can write plugin for it. I am unfortunately not that kind of guy.

  • M.P.

    I agree with recording and listening to your practice sets. I used to do that (have to go back to this) and I learned the most while doing it. 

  • Tom DjTomek Bernaerts

    Great article.  I don’t know why so many Dj’s are bashing on iTunes.  I am using it for years to control my whole music library and never experienced any problem.  iTunes does the job very well …. why change a winning team. (my opinion)

  • empolo

    My work flow…

    1. Detect BPM and Key with Rapid Evolution 3 (I write Camelot-style tags to Comments)
    2. In iTunes, I have Smart Playlists that sort by Key (from the Comments field)
    3. Import smart playlists from iTunes into Traktor playlists
    4. Sort and consolidate the BPM field in Traktor and then sort by Comments field (key)

    And of course, regular backups of my iTunes folder.

  • anoneemus

    so how about for PC’s on Windows man?

  • KidHack

    I’m pretty sure Traktor and OS X would choke if I had all my files unorganized in one folder. I’d definitely leave “Keep Itunes organized” turned on.

  • Charlie Poole

    what’s the reason behind ‘Turn off “Keep Itunes organized”’ ?

    • Ean Golden

      This is VERy important – with that option checked any changes to the artist name, title or tag will move the song to a new folder and then it will be missing in traktor. 

      • marinelli

        only changing the interpret or the name of the album will change the files location.

        but why should anyone change this information?

        • Bassplayr0123

           what if your using itunes with vdj?

      • Bis

        This is why you may want to import your iTunes database into Traktor/SSL.

    • Matthew D

      It can change the folder structure, makies files go missing in your DVS I guess

  • Firebird

    WTF? itunes sucks. I use Media Monkey( ) for tagging and organization. The programs organizing capabilities are so powerful you can literally take a 1000+ track untagged mess and turn it into a nicely organized collection complete with genre and coverart in an hour or two.
    I think Media Monkey also has support for syncing with Apple devices but I don’t own any so I’m not sure. 

    • Ewan Matheson

      Yeah it the only media programme that you can reliably substitute for itunes.

      Avid MediaMonkey user 🙂

      • Bis

        How do you make it work? Are plugins needed? DO I still need to use iTunes? Please post a link if you can. Thank you!

    • Bis

      The question is: can it integrate with Serato ScratchLIVE? 

      I would love to replace iTunes with this!

    • xavier steel

      YESSSSS FINALLLYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!! it does support syncing TO ANY DEVICE!! 

    • Dr. Funk

       Thanks a lot for the recommendation. Best thing to happen to me since DJTechTools. :]

  • Ryanleomusic

    I’ve had playlists on itunes disappear.

    I mix with cdjs and i currently have 30 discs with between 8-16 songs. I
    used to have the itunes playlists on each cd for quick burning but one
    day they were not.

    I keep folders as if they are cds. It keep the songs organize by when i add them to my library.

    I have the list of tracks in my cd wallet and I also have a list
    organizing them order of energy.  There Low, Mid A and B, High 1 and 2,
    and intense 1 and 2.  The list has there cd number on them. 

    This method only falls apart when go for a couple weeks without reviewing the lists.

    I usually add new tracks once a month and search for them for about a week. I use DJ city for top 40’s and I go through 500-750 songs on beatport and limit my selection to 25 or so.

    Even though I find that I end up with more songs than I actually use cause some of them I end up getting just to fill up the space.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with Ean’s article except for solely trusting on libraries in software like iTunes to organize your music.

    I learned it the hard way. Sooner or later you are going to migrate to new hardware, upgrade/swap your hard drives, reinstall the OS or your library and DJ software gets changed or a drastically overhauled. It’s particular on these occasions that proper music directory management is a life saver. Dealing with double tracks (with different bit rates) is also preferable to do in directories.

    The real problem is the lackluster music management functionality in DJ software. Especially Traktor is heading in the wrong direction atm with the focus on adding flashy controllerists functions while 90% of their users would benefit much more if it’s music management tools would work better.

    Btw, forget about iTunes if you’re on PC. It’s crap compared to Media Monkey.

  • DJ Idlemind

    iTunes was the perfect music management tool for my library…when it was small. Over the years it has grown to a size well beyond what ever recommended size Apple suggests. It takes (literally) about a minute to open my 150K+ library and every mouseclick freezes it for another 10 seconds. It eventually comes around but it is really slow and understandably so. I liked it mainly because of the “smart playlists” which I would use to make dynamic crates in Scratchlive, ie. Songs that haven’t been played in X.. weeks, Songs that have been added to the library in the past X days or songs with a bpm between X and Y  But Scratchlive has subsequently added smart crates and I’ve been making them instead. One would think that a faster machine would solve the problem, but I can tell you that my dual quad-core MacPro with 32Gigs of RAM chokes as much as my MacBook Pro does.

    I wish iTunes had a better way of dealing with large libraries. I like the interface so much, I’d even be willing to PAY for a “Pro Version” of iTunes for large libraries. What I’ve been doing lately is making a different iTunes library for each folder (named by genre) thus breaking my library in to smaller manageable chunks that iTunes can digest a little better. you switch between the different libraries by holding down OPTION (on a mac) and selecting the library that you want to work on. 

    • Bis

      Idlemind. Love the post. I am reaching the same point of frustration with iTunes. A lot of people are really digging Media Monkey, have you tried it?

      SSL “smart crates” and SSL as music management tool is way behind in features compared to iTunes. That is why I still refuse to go to it exclusively. 
      Have you ever given Media Monkey a try?

  • Rainpebble

    besides the itunes recommendation…good article…itunes, really!?

  • Derrick Miller

    As nice as iTunes is for those that are knee deep in Apple, I prefer the more software independent approach. This has kept me and my 10k song library in order for quite some time.

    1. Download/Rip/Produce Music in a “Processing” Folder in my User Folder.
    2. Run Musicbrainz Picard/MP3 Tagger/Mixed In Key on the files to get all tagging done correctly. I also have Picard set to make a folder for the Album Artist with a Folder for the Album in it.
    3. Copy the top level folder into my main music folder.
    4. Refresh my music player (Winamp) and double check to make sure all my tagging is done right.
    5. At this point, I will listen to songs over time and I’ll add comments about the overall song as I feel is needed.
    6. At regular intervals I backup to my external which I also use as my DJing drive.
    7. Traktor import and cue up new songs.

    While no method is best for all, I like it because:
    * I have granular control over every little bit of my files.
    * I am not dependent on my software for organization. In the end I am still manually putting files in their place.
    * The backup system ensures recent editions can’t mess up my tagging

    It does have downsides:
    * Lots of time spent with this organizational work. Then again it makes every song added feel important and deliberate.
    * Since I keep two copies around, this collection is massive when it comes to drive space, since files are either WAV or high quality MP3.

    But I am willing to ignore those aspects and it works for me.

    • xavier steel

      try media monkey for your folder organization – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!! AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES

  • Justin Reed

    great tips IAN!  The pysical practice and record everytghing in particualr has me identifying some places where i could further cu@davepermen:disqus btwe tivate my craft!

    One thing i would HIGHLY suggest that you didn’t mention here is to actually assemble your tunes for an event in a playlist before hand – not talking about planning the whole mix.  the playlist should be 2-3 times as many tracks as you will play in the evening…This is functionally equivelent to a dj pulling a particular set of records/or cds for a gig instead of having to wade through potentially thousands of tracks!

    I got your back on itunes – and mixed in key!  +1 to technology
    btw – have you tested the lates version of MIK?  or the Mashup software?  I’d appreciate a review or at least some points on either if you have the time!

    ps – if i ever tag anythinbg “hands in the air” please burn me alive and scatter my ashes in the beaches of ibiza or some other resort d-bag festival.

  • Stbanas925

    Hmm I don’t know why so many people hate organizing on iTunes… For me organizing on Traktor is a horror. Using iTunes is so simple for me and I can have everything the way I want while organizing everything only once. Plus, for some odd reason, when I tried using Traktor playlists they would disappear randomly. The iTunes playlists have always been there for me. I’ve used iTunes to organize my music since I started on cdj’s.

    Oh well. To each his own I guess…

  • Ol

     can we get a relevant article please – how can you try to teach such subjective preference?
    and thats all workflow is – preference.

  • spaz

    itunes…. pass. I prefer my personal organising because itunes fucked it up worse. Know your music or don’t play it. Claude von stroke once said its more important to pick the right songs, over playing only drops. Make play lists and always tag. And keep it interesting. I hate sets of entirely house it whatever. It’s repetitive and blah. But this is only my opinion. Personally I love adding either vocal breaks of a funny sound bite or playing a steep tempo change only to bring it back.

  • Per Jakobsen

    Smart Taggin, and itunes smart playlist feature, what else is needed 🙂

    • xavier steel

      try media monkey for your folder organization – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!! AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES

  • Anthony Woodruffe

    Talking about one particular music organisation program (i-tunes) is going to cause a problem because there are always going to be ‘fan-boys’ and haters. I’d love an i-Tunes Light version that was just designed for music but that just isn’t going to happen. Yet; then again why should it. i-tunes does do the job we require but if you’re not an i-Tunes fan look away now..

    Cut all the crap that comes along with the program and there’s not really anything else on the market that does so much more than i-Tunes. You can set ID3 tags and you can make your own Genre labels. You can make playlists and smart playlists. Once your track has been imported into an i-Tunes folder you can delete the original source. You can back you’re whole library to disk and use that disk instead of i-Tunes as all the music is on that disk. I have about 200 playlists setup in i-Tunes; ranging from rock n rock, to swing, jazz, instrumental Guitar, piano, electronic. Early/late Rock/pop 70’s, 80’s 90’s and 2K. Soul, R&B, Hip-Hop, House with approx. 15 sub-genres arranged like (House Electro, House deep, House Prog, even House classic L80/E90.) I then mark all my special tracks in playlists which start with ‘z_’ these are little playlists that I regularly rearrange  but my ‘z_’ playlists still have 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, Rock Classic, Current, etc. So although I have a huge list of folders they are all categorised in an orderly fashion making it easy to find tracks quickly. Every song gets put through Mixed in Key regardless of how old or new it is. Meaning I can use the rule of 5ths across my whole library, yes even Dean Martin has been MIK’ed.

    Of course all this could be done in Traktor, Win amp, or banshee? but although we know that i-tunes itself has become very bloated, traktor only accesses the library.xml file. You don’t need the program open in order to read the playlists in Traktor.

    What this gives me is about 3,500 organised tracks in one universal program which I can drag into MIK and analyse, or access via Traktor, or play in i-Tunes itself for background music, or use in Serato or drag into Ableton.

    I’m sure there are other programs that can be used that way and if you’re using such a program then that’s cool. Is it better than i-Tunes? is i-Tunes better? At the end of the day an ID3 tag editor is an ID3 Tag editor and so the story ends.

    • xavier steel

      try media monkey for your folder organization – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!! AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES

  • Rename

    trusting itunes to organise your tracks exclusively is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. DO USE folders to organise your library. It will make your life a hell of allot easier especially if your mix multiple genres of music. I learnt the hard way when all my genre tags (let alone play lists which can redone without much effort) got erased when itunes updated and had to start all over again (maybe this dosnt happen in macs). Using folders does also help when transferring from one software to another e.g traktor to ableton and you can be far more assured that something random will not happen and de-organise your library before a set or just jamming at home. I’m both shocked and appalled that anyone with as much experience would write such a thing.

    • Bis

      6 years using iTunes. Never a corruption problem. I hope you remembered to backup…! Backing up is required, no matter what you use. Any database can become damaged. Any drive can crash.

  • Sunset Mushroom

    Great advise.  But I gotta give a thumbs down on the iTunes as well.  I have S4 &  Mixed-In-Key.  I like the idea of folders for archival purposes. It reminds me when, where, and what the content is. 

    Now, large digital collections will create performance issues no matter what you use.  So keep dupes and unused material to a minimum. 


  • Ariel Segatto

    I don’t know if it works for MAC, but for PC definitely go with Media Monkey. It shits all over iTunes. By far the BEST music collection software available, and it updates all my iDevices or any other mp3 player, thumbdrive or android.

    • Bis

      How can it be used to talk with Serato ScrathLive? I want to dump iTunes!

  • Andreas Hamm

    It’s funny how every DJ relies on iTunes’ type of sorting. The problem is, that you need more space because you get an additional copy of each and every track. It’s the lazy (and dumb) type of sorting. A real genius uses the folder trees because he REALLY knows, where to find which track and he also knows, why he had which track sorted which way. Yeah it might get complicated but it even helps you with the points 2 and 3 because you have listened to them and made some intelligent tags.

    I coincidentally checked the rhythm training course just yesterday. Really nice knowledge worth sharing. It might also be helpful to listen to Jeremy Ellis Maschine and MPC lessons 17, 18 and 19 to train your finger abilities, which might come in handy when using pads for samples and one-shots during the DJing session. The training is just basic stuff, but really helpful for beginners… and hell I am a beginner.

    • marinelli

      no way! every file exist exactly once on my hardrive. 
      And thats within the folder structure managed by itunes.I am no genius, but if I would be one I  would like to be a genius of deejaying, not of keeping a folder structure in mind. 🙂

  • Dennis Parrott

    Overall, this is great. Consistent execution of fundamentals is the platform of possible greatness. Making sure new tracks go through a well-executed process means that you can rely on them when you want to play them. I am in the process of revamping my collection to upgrade the ones that I will play. I have been using iTunes as the starting point for this process and I’ve never been more disgusted with the lack of performance of a piece of software!

    I have a HUGE collection of songs in iTunes. I DJ but I am also a music fanatic so I have ALL of my music in iTunes — I made that commitment long before there was an iPhone or iPad to sync to… So my experience may be a bit different.

    I went through my collection to “clean up” as prep for an exercise of backing up the library and selecting “The One” version of the songs I want in DJ crates in Traktor. Doing things like setting “album artist” to “Various” so that all of the songs on a comp end up in one folder, fixing tags (trying to “standardize”), and so on. 

    I have NEVER had one piece of software freeze up, slow down, and crash so many times as I have seen during this exercise! And the kicker is I am doing this on a Mac where “it just works” (or so they claim…). Oh, and I keep it up to date — this Mac has its patches and updates applied…

    iTunes has become the center of Apple’s i-Universe; it plays your music, it buys your videos, it puts stuff on your i-Thingies, it slices, it dices, …(but wait there’s more)… BUT it doesn’t do anything particularly well (ask me how I like syncing!).

    As my track collection has grown, iTunes has gotten slower and slower. Right now, it REFUSES to add new tracks… My research indicates that Apple has had people complaining about that behavior for at least 2 and possibly 3 years! Trying to edit ID3 tags and metadata is cause to go out for coffee it is so slow…

    Yes, I am whining but there is a point to this. iTunes is NOT DJing software. It was not designed to meet the needs of a DJ. It is “consumer gear” that we repurposed. I would claim that you can see the influence of the “bedroom DJ” on the market by how many tools interface to iTunes! 

    It is clear to me that iTunes only does a marginally better job as a music library management tool than a separate tag editor program and a reasonably organized set of folders. The main advantage of iTunes in that role is the search function (which doesn’t always find things you would expect it should…).

    What is also true is this: iTunes (particularly on the Mac) sucked all the air out of the room and it made it next to impossible to create/sustain alternative music library tools and players. This means that we are stuck with the warts of iTunes; slow performance for large libraries, persistent bugs due to the size and scope of the software, lack of real backup capabilities and lack of support for any alternative format that Apple doesn’t like (FLAC anyone?). At this point, I feel that I have earned the right to inject the ad hominem “iTunes SUCKS!”. If you don’t agree that it “sucks”, go read Apple’s own support discussion forum.

    The question is this: what should we do about it? 

    I would argue that we have tried to use a simple music organizer/player that was intended for rather small libraries as a “music database” for libraries that exceed iTunes design.

    What we need is “music database” system capable of handling a million tracks as easily as it handles 10,000. We need a system that can support solid DJ workflows. One that can handle alternative formats as the need arises. A tool that has backup capabilities designed into it from the start to help the DJ protect his investment in the music.

    If such a system also allowed you to export your library into iTunes so it could reach your iDevices, well, that would be a bonus…

    Ean – sorry to write an article in the comments but I’ve been so frustrated lately with iTunes that this article just caused me to go into “hyper-spew”!  I agree that you need a rock solid process that gets executed relentlessly. You simply cannot play tracks that aren’t prepped and a track that I can’t play is just clutter in my DJ crates. What I cannot justify is iTunes at the core of that process. Unfortunately, I don’t have an alternative.

      • xavier steel

        please try media monkey see my comment above urs – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!!

    • Anonymous

       My friend you have just voiced

    • Anonymous

      It’s like you read my mind man. I’ve had less trouble with iTunes than you but I can assure you I hate it the same. My dream “DJ Track Database” software would include the following:

      1. Simple way to edit all ID3 tags and hide the ones you wish to ignore.
      2. Analyze tracks in order to find their BPM/Key
      3. Player to listen to tracks with the ability to define my own intervals when I skip along a track’s timeline with keyboard arrows (jump 12secs, 30, 45, etc).
      4. Fetch album artwork or let me import it myself
      5. Make Playlists/Crates
      6. Let me define my own “watch” folder so that every track I move to that folder gets automatically imported/analyzed.
      7. Have an easy way to backup and export my entire database for protection.
      8. Make me a sandwitch

    • HansDaigle

      You juste have tu Use iTunes with iCloud and tractor = You got your software

      • xavier steel

        please try media monkey see my comment above urs – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!!

    • Stephen LARROQUE

      Another suggestion would be to use RapidEvolution. It’s a great software that should meet all your needs and that has been specifically designed to handle big DJ libraries of music, along with ID3 tags edition, and sorting according to tags/bpm/key similarity/beat intensity/search or even a combination of these.

      Also, I must note here that you can drag&drop songs from RapidEvolution browser directly inside your decks (works for any software I have tried so far), so that you can exclusively organize your music in RapidEvolution and don’t care at all about synchronization with Traktor for example.

    • referior

      The software you want that to manage your large library is Foobar.  It doesn’t have the nice comparability with every piece of software on the planet, it has the best audio quality, organization, and configuration options out of any music program I have used.  I currently have around 20,000 songs in my library and Foobar is not affected by the library size in any noticeable way.  

    • Psybin

      I know this is old but I just wanted to add that I totally agree. I recently saw a comment on the NI forum about iTunes that said something like (paraphrasing), “If you don’t use iTunes for your library [as a DJ] then you dunno what you’re doing and if you have to ask why I won’t bother telling you, and your collection will be hopelessly out of date by the time you get your music organized.” His elitist attitude kinda pissed me off. I can organize my music without trendy iTunes pretty efficiently, thank you. I don’t really have anything important to add, I just wanted to point out that Apple/iTunes does NOT make the DJ. =P

  • Greg Miernicki

    On my mac… I have a folder ~/MIX which itself has folders for each genre of music in my collection. ~/MIX/dnb ~/MIX/breaks ~/MIX/hardcore, etc… Traktor imports from the ~/MIX folder and finds everything recursively. So, #1 in this article is not necessary (won’t go into how much iTunes is a piece of crap ~ others have already stated that in the comments). 

    #3 is probably the most important thing to take away from this article. I spend a LOT of time with this one and its why my collection is superb! I can do a quick search of traktor for dark mnml bass dnb and get all my tracks that match that search as I’ve tagged em all really well!

  • Ryan McCluskey

    I use iTunes for Traktor because it’s just easier for my workflow and it integrates really well into Traktor but I would love it if you did an article on how to manage samples and loops with Traktor. How do you organize them, where do keep them, etc.
    I’ve got tons of loops and stuff but I can’t figure out an efficient way of organizing them.

  • Lauti

    I think ean is right with the itunes tip.

    But, honestly, I hate itunes; i use this player called banshee; that’s my music library. I listen to shit there, I tag and rate them there. Then, if I want to add something to traktor, I add it to a traktor playlist, and then from time to time I drag tracks from that playlist into the traktor library folders (which are numbered, like, 001, 002, …)

    I think its better to have a stage between the downloaded stage and the in-traktor-library stage, where you actually check tracks, their quality, key, etc.

  • Rg Tb

    excellent blog entry!

    one thing, though. ean, i am sure itunes fits perfectly in your workflow but one should acknowledge that alternatives exist which may be superior for some. personally, i use mp3tag in conjunction with a highly configurable web sources script (“discogs pone mod”) and an export configuration of my own. this creates excellent-quality metadata (based on discogs) and  perfectly consistent folder structure and files names. i then run the usual key-detection software. finally, i import into traktor manually so that only releases that are “for dj use” are imported. while i do the import manually, i have never lost a track this way despite having a sizable collection.

  • Pinto

    I had all my songs organized in itunes playlists.  Over the weekend, itunes updated and erased all of my playlists.  Called up apple and they told me there is no way to get them back, since itunes does not save playlists. wtfffffff  got to make it all over again

    • KidHack

      backup your iTunes Library XML file (or the whole music folder) on the regular. 

    • KidHack

      backup your iTunes Library XML file (or better yet, your whole music folder) on the regular.

    • Bis

      Backup before any changes/updates.


    itunes? seriously? and don’t use a proper directory hierarchy? that’s how you lose things… these are not best practices.

    • marinelli

      I don’t get the point with all the people having problems to let itunes manage the files. 

      iTunes has a transparent and proper directory hierarchy which is completely independent from itunes. If someday I want to use another software to manage the files, every tune will be exactly where ecpected ready to import to the new database. Almost every information (including artwork) is embedded in the mp3.The playlist can be exported as xml-file. 

      I have know idea how i could manage my library without intelligent playlists so managing files in Traktor is a no-go!

      • marinelli

        “no” not “know” 🙂

        and perhaps i should admit, that i’m on osx, where itunes runs without problems. 
        When i used a pc, i had MediaMonkey.

        You can anyway replace “itunes” with every database-based and smart (or “intelligent”) playlist using software.

    • xavier steel

      try media monkey for your folder organization – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!! AND LET ME KNOW HOW IT GOES

  • Chris Jennings

    I have iTunes keep everything organized. That just takes an extra step out of the process for me that I don’t have to worry about. I know how iTunes does it and it makes sense to me if I need to find something on the hardrive, which is very rare. I also have Traktor import new music on startup. I understand though that this isn’t really an option for people that have 1000’s of songs that they’ll never play in a DJ set. 

  • Mrrawuk

    I use Itunes a bit for playlists, although I have a mac, and never did this on PC.

  • davepermen

    Instead of iTunes, I use traktor directly for the whole managing.

  • PC3

    I agree with almost all of this… except I do “keep my folders organized.” Only reason is because I am just too lazy and I don’t have time to manually organize myself. Also I find iTunes organization quite nice. But to help alleviate any possible problems I constantly “check consistency” of my files within Traktor… 

  • qNrr

    Itunes is such crap on PC doesn’t help anything

    • xavier steel

      YOU SHOULD DEF. be using media monkey on a PC – NO QUESTION!! – i promise you, you will be very excited to organize when u get into it!!

  • reckless

    loose itunes! – only rely on folders. always be tool independent, maybe with the exception of the DVS/DJing System you use (beat gridding, loops & stuff)

    • reckless

      lose, not loose. 

      • guest

        I don’t know, I always found itunes rather loose. But valid point regardless.

        • Ben Doyle

           Why, if you turn off copy and manage itunes works 150% perfectly and intergrates perfectly into serato and traktor?

  • Anonymous

    Cool. I’m just starting out as a DJ and I listen to tracks and think about good places to mix and everything, but I never really thought about these things in depth yet. This could be really good to get into the habit of doing. Thanks!