Music Management Using iTunes
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  1. #1
    Tech Mentor DJ 2 Cut's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    St Louis, MO

    Default Music Management Using iTunes

    I was talking on this topic in another post this week and thought I would start a thread on it just in case there is anyone out there looking for way to manage their music. I prefer to use iTunes as it makes life much easier.

    It took a while to work out the bugs and get it setup properly and of course was very time consuming. But now that I have it setup properly the time I have saved importing my music definitely outweighs the time it spent setting it up.


    As stated in Ean’s article “The Art of Prep” the best thing to do in your prep time is to have a rock solid track import system.

    I would read the article for all the details but just breaking down this one step this is what he states:
    • 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

    I think the best thing you can take away from that all your music is in one centralized place. Instead of being scattered all over the place on your computer it’s all in one spot. Nothing gets lost. If you need to back up your music collection (I recommend doing often) the only thing you need to copy is your iTunes folder. This not only backs up your music but your iTunes database as well.

    The only difference I follow is that I analyze all my tracks in Mixed in Key bore I put them in iTunes but I don’t think it matters either way.

    I created a playlist in iTunes named DJ Tunes and ALL my DJ music gets clicked and dragged into this playlist. This is a temporary spot for the tracks and serves two functions 1) it Copies the files into the iTunes library (And the file into the iTunes music folder) 2) It puts them all in one place for me to verify the file information is correct. (Leading to our next topic)

    Once all that information is verified to be correct and the way I want it I remove it from this list to make way for more new tracks.

    Tagging Time

    Now the key to making all of this work easily and effortlessly come down to just one thing and that’s proper labeling and tagging of your music. If everything follows the same method and system then you can quickly search for tracks and better manage your music. Here are the fields that I have come to rely on in iTunes:

    Name – Track name obviously
    Artist - Artist name obviously
    Comments – I put my Key data in here
    Genre – Separate Multiple genres with /
    Grouping – I use this to separate my DJ tracks from regular listening music (More on this later)
    Star Rating – Using for energy level of track

    Not the Average Playlist

    Now with all your music in one location on your hard drive and all of its information correct and accurate there is only one thing left to do. Make your playlists. Now I could go through and add each track I want to each individual playlist.But why do that when I can have it done for me automatically right? That’s where the genius of “Smart Playlists” comes in.

    Smart playlists are playlists that area created from criteria you determine beforehand. They are updated in real time by iTunes. (As long as you set it to auto update in the settings which is the default)

    An example: Creating a list with the criteria of Genre – Contains – “House” any music that is my library with the term “House” in its genre field will automatically show up in this list. Whether that be Progressive house, Electro House, or just house. It doesn’t matter it all goes in.

    In the example above I could make another that is Genre – Contains – “Electro” and it would contain all songs with a genre containing “electro” including Electro House. So a track with a genre of “electro house” with show up in both lists without lifting a finger at all. And this is where the beauty of it all comes together.

    Now by looking at my playlists you can see there are allot of things you can do with the smart playlists. It is time consuming but once they are setup there is nothing else you have to do. Just import your songs and tag them. Everything else is automatic.

    I’m not going to break down all of these. But I’ll explain a few of them…

    By Key:
    I like to mix harmonically so all my keys are in the Camelot Wheel notation. These lists are all broken down into these keys so all tracks in that key are listed. Example of how to do this is below:
    Match all
    Comment – Is – “2A”

    By Genre:
    These are just like the example I listed before. I create a folder for each Genre and put sub genres below that.
    Match Any
    Genre – Contains – “House”
    Genre – Contains – “Caribbean”

    By Artist:
    This one is a little tricky because sometimes a guest artist will be listed in the track title and sometimes it will be listed in the artist field. The list is simpler than it would seem.
    Match any
    Artist – Contains – “Afrojack”
    Name – Contains – “Afrojack”

    Mixes Well With:
    This goes back to the harmonic mixing. Without going into too much detail how harmonic mixing works, a 2A song can be mixed a 2B, 1A, 3A, or another 2A song. So I just include all of them in the smart list so in a pinch if I need to mix out of a song I can quickly find a song it should sound pretty good with the one playing.

    What about Grouping?

    Now before when talking about tagging I mentioned I use the grouping category a lot. And you will notice in my screen shots I use it in all of my smart lists. It’s really simple. I used to have multiple iTunes libraries for different situations. “DJ Tunes” for my club and DJ music, and a regular one just for my “normal” music for listening to. This would cause me problems because I would want to grab a track from on or the other and would have to switch by closing out of iTunes and launching it again with the new library. Not only would this cause issues inside Traktor but iPhones can only sync to one library. So I couldn’t sync to both.

    Then I thought to myself. “If I am already using smart playlists for my music why can’t I integrate everything into one library? And this is where grouping came in. All my music I use to DJ with I change the grouping field in iTunes to DJ tunes. When creating a smart playlist I make the parent rule “Grouping – is – DJ Tunes” so only my “DJ Tunes” show up in these lists. Another benefit is that if I am at a gig and they crowd is just not feeling it I can always mix it up with some tunes that might not be your typical “club” music.

    Where does Traktor fit into this?

    So where does Traktor come into the equation? Well in Traktor you can access your iTunes library by going down the side bar and expanding the iTunes section. It will display your iTunes library and all of your playlist. (Including smart playlists) to import your iTunes library to Traktor simply right click on iTunes and click import to library. It can take a while depending on how may tunes you have. When you add music to iTunes is sure to repeat this step so your new music is added to the Traktor collection.

    Odds and Ends

    Just a few notes to add. This has been an ever evolving process and may not work for everyone. I’m just throwing it out here to help anyone who may want it. This works very well for me and has cut my prep time on tracks in half if not more. What I would recommend for a new DJ or any Traktor DJ is to get an external hard drive. Put the following on it:

    Traktor install and update files
    Your iTunes library
    Your Traktor Collection and settings

    I run Traktor and iTunes from this drive. To move these items to and run those from the drive do the following: (This is for PC as I do not have a Mac)

    Copy the entire iTunes folder for your “My Music” folder to the drive
    - Start >Run >%userprofile%\Music

    Copy your Traktor collection and settings to the drive
    - Start > Run >%userprofile%\Documents\Native instruments
    - Grab the most recent version folder

    To get these programs to use this information do the following

    - Hold shift when launching iTunes
    - This will make it prompt to choose or create library
    - Select choose library and navigate to your external drive

    - Opens settings and navigate to File Management
    - Set all of these locations to the locations on your external drive

    After you have your external drive setup and working back this up to another drive. The idea behind all of this is that if something happens to your laptop you can buy/borrow another laptop and you have everything you need on the external drive. (Including the install files) The second drive is in case something happens to the first drive.

    So that’s that. Sorry for the long post. But it was allot of info to get out there. I hope this helps some people and if you have any questions about anything or it’s just not making any sense feel free to send me a message and I can see what I can do to help.
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    Last edited by DJ 2 Cut; 12-05-2012 at 02:49 PM.

  2. #2


    Awesome write up....wil. implement some of this....

  3. #3
    Tech Guru Nicky H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Leeds UK


    Excellent write up...

    I would rather pull out my eyeballs than use iTunes, but everyone else on here seems to use it - sticky worthy thready
    SC | MC

  4. #4


    pro write up, stuff i already implement sans the use of iTunes but i had to bump the thread and give credit where credit is due

  5. #5


    Smart playlists are the best. Wish Traktor had something like that but then again I just use the iTunes library from Traktor....
    Contact me if you have a cool musical idea. @kentsandvik

  6. #6
    Tech Guru Patch's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Bristol, UK


    Great post, 2 Cut. One all the noobs should read 2 or 3 times over.

    DJ'ing: 2x1200MK2, DJM 850, Dicers, F1, Zomo MC-1000, Sony MDR-v700, i7 Win 10 HP Envy
    Production: Ableton Live 8 and a mouse, Sennheiser HD400, Sony VAIO

    Click HERE to D/L Free Tracks from Soundcloud!!!

  7. #7
    Tech Convert
    Join Date
    Jul 2012


    A++ post Great read! I might actually start using Itunes, I've just been organizing my own folders for so long and change is scary!

  8. #8
    Tech Mentor DJ 2 Cut's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    St Louis, MO


    Quote Originally Posted by Gokari View Post
    A++ post Great read! I might actually start using Itunes, I've just been organizing my own folders for so long and change is scary!
    Scary indeed. Use it as an opportunity to get rid of some bloat tracks in your collection. As I was moving to this method it gave me a chance to weed out tracks that just weren't working for me anymore as well as some lower quality tracks that just needed to go and shouldn't have been I my collection to begin with.

    The smart lists also make it easy to find imperfections in your collection. I created a list to find any tracks missing Key data just by putting in Comments - Contain - " " (Nothing) and BOOM instantly found half a dozen tracks that slipped through the cracks

  9. #9
    Tech Wizard Skyline's Avatar
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    Aug 2012
    New York City | Atlantic City, NJ


    Never understood the star rating but you gave me an idea, i could use the stars for warm ups, peak and bangers!

  10. #10
    Tech Wizard stevohill's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Phoenix, AZ


    2 Cut, you couldn't have posted this at a better time. I've been seriously needing to better organize my library. Previously went through and cleaned out the "bloat tracks" as you put it, but have been in dire need of better organization/sorting. Your method is exactly what I've been wanting to do, and using the iTunes Smart Playlist seems perfect. Now, I just need to set aside a weekend to get this done...

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