Starting and Managing a Music & Sound Library


To kickstart this audio series here at the Dojo, we’re going to start with creating and managing music/sound libraries. If you work with any sort of video, you definitely need to have a music/sound library. By creating one, you are easily able to archive and organize all the audio you’ve used (and even audios you haven’t used yet). It’s a great practice to have your resources quickly available and a great way to build a collection.

How to Start One

First off, location is very important as it’s going to be your whole music/sound library, you don’t want it to all disappear due to some errors. I’d recommend placing your library on a external hard drive (1TB or more) so it’s easily transferable and won’t vanish if your system fails. If you have one of those fancy externals, you could probably even make constant backups/clones to another drive. If you’ve got the resources, putting it on your own dedicated server wouldn’t be a bad idea as a backup.

Once you’ve picked a location, I like to further organize my files by company or website name. For an example, I have a AudioJungle folder and all the tracks from AudioJungle go in that folder. Once you’ve created a company folder, I create a additional folder for the actual track name. Most royalty free music have multiple variations so it’s nice to put all the variations into one folder along with the original. So for an example: I have a Premiumbeat folder, inside that folder I have a “Holy Grail” folder, and in that folder I have all the variations of “Holy Grail”. It’s also a great idea if possible to add the composer name to the folder name: “The Clouds – Johnny Appleseed”.

How to Manage One

It’s actually very simple, every time you get a new track, simply create a new folder for the track and add it into the corresponding company folder. It’s crucial that you make constant backups of your library in case of a hardware failure. Something to also note is the licensing of each company/track. Most companies aim for royalty free now a days so you should be OK reusing the stuff, but if you’re doing broadcast work, be sure you’re using the right license. Also, you should note that some “free” audio sources require attribution or credits if you use their stuff, something to keep in mind as well.

Here’s a tip from Derek Palmer, music composer who creates amazing film scores, on managing a library:

“One word comes to mind…ORGANIZATION. If you feel you’re being too obsessed with it, you’re doing it right. I myself have a huge, gigantic music collection. Everything is set up in a basic tree: Genre – Genre Name – Artist Name – Artist Album – Songs. Keeping something like this is key in keeping everything organized properly, so in a rush, you know exactly where everything is.” – Derek Palmer

Why a Library is Useful

As stated, it’s a good method for organizing and archiving your music. The most practical reason I’ve realized is that it really does drastically improve your workflow. It’s easier to have all the audio right there in front of you for fast and easy access than to go online and search for stuff. It’s also very handy if you’re working on a small little project or test to just hop into your library, pick something, and go with it.

In the next article, we’re going to be talking about where and how you can expand your library. We’ll discuss a lot about free and paid audio sources as well as some recommended products to add to your library. If you guys have anything you want to see in this audio series, let me know down in the comments below! Have you started a audio library yet?

 

10 comments
  1. Nice tips man. Thanks for the info, i’ve always seems to have a bit of trouble keeping my audio organized. Now I know how to get my tracks organized much better. 🙂

    1. Thanks buddy! A lot of people are always asking me what I do so I thought I’d share my workflow with everyone. Glad they were sorta helpful!

    1. Hey Olivier, don’t manage your library in iTunes. Create your folder normally as if it was on your Operating System. Right click> Create new folder.

  2. There is a neat little php scropt called andromeda (google for turnstyle andromeda) – if you set up a xampp webserver or run that script on a webspace it allows you to manage and access the files. the fun part comes with the said folders – every folder get displayed, with simple txt and image files in that folders you can add also text and cover. this really becomes handy esp. cause you can add rights for access and if used wisely you can manage your files easily accessable within a companies network or access even worldwide (so no need to carry a harddrive all time with you). .. even it cost few bucks I love that script since years now!

  3. Interesting! I’ve been an audio engineer and sound designer primarily but am branching into motion graphics (just a large step up from my graphic arts background). Manual organization and building a private collection is definitely helpful. It’s worth mentioning that as your library increases in size, file types, and you get into acquisitions of larger network libraries (like Digital Juice, or Soundminer prepped libraries), metadata is crucial to quickly looking for “styles” or keywords that match the criteria of what you’re searching for.
    I’m definitely with Derek Palmer on the organization and structuring. I’m very meticulous with all my projects, files, and any and all media. If you work purely with your OS (windows/mac) and have uncompressed formats like AIFF/WAV that don’t traditionally or easily accept meta-data input, consider filenaming and folder organization conventions that allow you to put keywords in the filenames that help give context to the sound/music file so that when you’re searching for something “slow, dark, brooding, somber, mellow, uplifting;” or “whoosh, SFX, ambience, etc.” those can help you minimize time spent scouring your hard drives for a specific type of sound.
    If you get an application like SoundMiner, the meta-data mining can be maintained within the application. For music tracks you can even track average BPM (tempo), beginning or root key the track is in, so that as you’re looking for tunes that match for “cuts” to have “beat pauses” to switch between music tracks and still maintain flow and key but change in tone.

    1. Hey Cameron,

      Great to have your input as someone who knows audio pretty well! The use of meta for organization and easy searching is a great tip (don’t know why I never thought about that). So many packs have generic names for sfx, so it just makes sense to organize by mood or meta.

      Thanks for the tip!

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