Organizing Your Music Collection

Kelly Pratt, Professional Organizer has tips for helping you organize your music collection.

If you’re dealing with tangled tunes, these tips will help you make your collection more accessible.

Digital Tunes

Organizing MP3s

The web is replete with software programs to help standardize file types; repair missing information, such as artist, title, genre, album art; and help you organize playlists. Some of the most versatile and popular programs are—
   • Media Monkey ( This       program is fantastic for people with extensive collections. One       user calls Media Monkey the Swiss army knife of MP3       organizing software. Media Monkey will help you clean up to       50,000-plus titles. How’s that for heavy lifting! The only       downside? Media Monkey is available only for use with PCs.
   • Tune Up ( Most audio fixing       software programs do pretty much the same thing: fix missing       information, delete duplicates, standardize volume, replace       missing cover art, etc. So what’s Tune Up’s unique spin? Tune       Up has a very cool concert alert feature based on the artists in       your tune library. You’ll never miss another show!
   • Tidy Songs ( Tidy Song’s claim to fame is       that it can fix your collection’s missing information without you       having to type in correct information yourself. The program will       automatically scan a database of over 4 million titles to find an       audio match and populate fields with correct information and       art.

All three of these programs are available in both free and paid versions.

Converting Hard Copy Music to MP3s

To make your collection more digitally accessible, you can use some of the following tools:
Crosley Revolution USB Turntable
   • ( This tool, featured in the January       issue of O Magazine, converts your records to MP3s. Urban       Outfitters at Gateway carries this amazing tool, and it is       currently on sale at a hugely reduced price. The Revolution       USB Turntable retails for $180.00 and is on sale for $99.99!
   • To convert CDs to MP3s, you can use online tools like FreeRIP.       (
   • To convert tapes to CDs, which can then be converted to       MP3s, see the step-by-step article at

Hard Copy Music

Records, Tapes and CDs


If you want to keep spinning your vinyls, turntable options are more plentiful now than ever. If you are more of a collector, you may wish to convert your records to CDs or MP3s so you can keep enjoying your tunes without potential damage to the record itself. If you want to store your records, make sure you choose containers that will protect from moisture and breakage. However you choose to enjoy your albums, whether you keep them near a turntable, convert them to a different format, or store them, you may wish to alphabetize them by artist, title or genre and create a master list so you can easily retrieve an album when you want it.

If you’re looking for creative ways to craft with old albums, Studio 5 contributor Jennifer Heslop shares 12 fun and funky ways to put a new spin on old records. Visit for details.

Tapes and CDs

8-Track Tapes

If you have 8-track tapes, you can convert them into a digital format using the guidelines at / All 8-track conversion processes obviously require an 8-track tape player, so if you no longer have one, there are companies that will do the conversion for you. The process isn’t cheap, it runs roughly $35 for just over an hour of conversion time, but if you love some of your old tunes and don’t want to or can’t replace some of your music with CDs or MP3s, it’s nice to know you have an option. You can also craft with 8-track tapes. Seriously! Visit for an idea.

Cassette Tapes

If you have a collection of cassette tapes, you can convert them to a more modern, playable format, like CD, by using the process outlined in the article mentioned above. If you still have a cassette player and listen to cassettes regularly, store the cassettes close to the player, and categorize them for easy access.


CDs follow similar categorization and containing guidelines to albums and tapes. You might use some of the following tips:

   • Alphabetize CDs by artist or album title, whichever is more       intuitive.
   • Consider creating a master list, either electronic or hard copy,       to help you track your collection. This list can be especially       helpful if you lend CDs very often.
   • Separate CDs by genre, such as jazz, rock, pop, country, show       tunes, classical, etc.
   • Store CDs close to the player where you use them most.
   • Choose a container that’s easy to use. Some people prefer CD       storage boxes. Others prefer storage binders. You may have       an entertainment center with compartments specifically for CD       storage. If you have a very large collection, you may even opt       for a bookcase or storage tower dedicated to CD storage.
   • If you have lost tape or CD cases, many office supply stores       carry replacement cases. You can then download album art off       the internet.
   • If you want to get crafty with your old or unused CDs, here’s a       website to get you started with some fun, unique craft ideas.

Sheet Music and Music Book Collections

For musicians, sheet music and music book collections represent a large investment of time and money. To best care for your sheet music and music books, consider some of the following guidelines.

Sheet Music

To organize your sheet music, you can—
   • Alphabetize music by either title or artist.
   • Categorize music by type (e.g. seasonal, religious, pop, SATB,       etc.)
   • Create a master list of your collection for tracking and access       purposes.
   • Store sheet music in—
      o 3-hole binders.
      o File boxes.
      o Filing cabinets.
      o Sheet music cabinets.

For sheet music-specific storage items and some fantastic web sites, visit

Note: If at all possible, store your music vertically rather than horizontally. If you store multiple scores horizontally, you will have a much more difficult time finding what you want.

You may wish to have a container, like a portfolio, to transport your music back and forth if you frequently accompany or perform.

Don’t underestimate the appeal of crafts using sheet music. From paper garlands to wrapping paper and gift tags, sheet music has made a recent resurgence as a crafting treasure. There are literally hundreds of ways to use old sheet music in crafting applications. Doing an internet search on “crafting with sheet music” will return hundreds of hits.

Music Books

To keep your music book library accessible—
   • Alphabetize books by either title or artist, whichever is more       intuitive.
   • As with records, tapes and CDs, and sheet music, create a       master list of your collection for tracking and access purposes.       You may also wish to note which of your favorite songs are in       which book.
   • If you have only a few music books, you can obviously store       them in a piano bench or in a decorative bin or basket. As your       collection grows, or if you have a large collection, use a       container, like a bookcase, that allows you easy access and       protects your investment.

Happy Organizing!
Kelly Pratt

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