Describe your Music Collection

Based on the favorable responses to Boundaries around Musical Genres I thought it might be fun to see how the notion of Genres applies in real life.

Describe how you organize and store:

  1. Your CD’s
  2. Your LP’s (assuming you have enough of them to organize)
  3. Your Tapes (if you have enough of them)
  4. Your musical DVD’s

If more recent musical devices allow for organization, allow for them as well. My highest-tech stuff is DVD’s at the moment: no iTunes or the like.

If you have sheet music, and care to include that, fine.

The main idea is: How do you organize your music so you can get at it quickly and easily?

Tapes - no organization. Their shape makes them awkward to store in an order.

CDs: I used to store alphabetically within a genre:

Classical / symphonic
Classic Rock
Techno / Synth pop
Straight-up punk/pop alternative
New Wave Punk (such as Costello or Squeeze)
Pink Floyd

Now, I have so many CDs and there are so many genre-benders that I sort alphabetically by artist, except for Pink Floyd and Elvis Costello, since I have so many by them I segregate them in their own sections.

I still have six or eight linear feat of vinyl – strictly alphabetical by artist (default to composer, default to name or theme of compilation).


Alphabetical (as above), but broken into:

Jazz and standards
World music
Everything else (mostly rock, some blues and R&B, a couple of soundtracks, etc.)

CDs (close to 400):

Latin (subcategories by countries and artists; Panamanian, Cuban, Dominican, Peruvian, Mexican, Brazilian etc.)
African (by country and artist, and also genre; soukous, synchro, jit, township, pygmy music, etc)
Miscellaneous island music (zouk, etc)
Miscellaneous European music (Finnish, flamenco, etc)
Unclassifiable world music (3 Mustaphas 3, etc)
Country & western
Blues/R & B
Classical and musicals

Vinyl (about 300):


LPs: Better than 3000 of the suckers. I’ve been paring the collection down, bit by bit. The ones that I play at all are arranged alphabetically by artist, without regard to genre. Except the classical. Those get their own shelf.

CDs: Total mishmash. They are kinda grouped by style, sorta, maybe. I have a 300 disc changer, so the racks are numbered so I know what CD is where in the changer, but the order and content changes regularly. I can tell you that Disc #1 is Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen and currently Disc #300 is You Can’t Fix Stupid by Ron White. Anything in between I’d have to look up.

Musical DVDs: There are only a dozen or so, and they are all on the same shelf of the DVD rack in the living room. Easy to find, unless I took one to school, which is currently the case (Springsteen Live in New York City).

I have two of the black plastic racks of 30 cassette tapes each. They are stored in alphabetical order by artist, composer, or movie/show name.

My CDs are stored in a binder in those pages. Same order. I would love to have a CD changer with enough space to just store them all in that.

All CDs and DVDs are stored in these storage cabinets. They’re pricey but very sturdy, attractive and modular. I had 873 CDs at last count, although I picked up a half-dozen or so used ones at a flea market last weekend.

They’re loosely organized by Genre:

Classical (alphabetically by composer)
Soundtrack (alphabetically by movie title)
Jazz/Blues (alphabetically by artist)
Folk/World (alphabetically by artist)
Rock/Pop (alphabetically by artist)

I rip them to computer. In fact, I never listen to the actual physical discs anymore. As soon as I purchase a CD, I rip it to lossless FLAC fomat and then file the CD away.

My computer is connected to my home theatre setup via S/PDIF connection to maximize sound quality and I access the files either through Foobar on my computer or through the Zoomplayer media library on my TV via the dual monitor setup on my video card. I transcode FLAC to MP3 for my MP3 player and burn conventional audio CDs to listen in my car.

This setup keeps my original discs in nearly pristine condition where they serve as backups in case of problems such as hard drive crashes (which happened to my this past January :().

CDs are all in three carousel players that hold 200-300 CDs each. The album covers are in folders in alpha order. The jewel cases are in a landfill. Music is ordered generally in the following categories and alphabetically:
Carousel #1: Classical and world
Carousel #2: Rock and country
Carousel #3: Jazz

Records: On a shelf in alpha order

Tapes: In a basket on the floor. I really need to dump all that.

I guess I should mention mine/ours.

Roughly 900 LP’s combining hers and mine:

Jazz – Alphabetical by artist/band; then by label; then by catalog number so that it’s sort of chronological by artist
Other – maybe 75, alphabetical by artist/orchestra/composer/soundtrack title

Roughly 200 cassettes, 90% Jazz – all alphabetical by artist/band

Roughly 300 CD’s, decent mix of Jazz, Classical, Pop/Rock, Assorted other – all alphabetical by artist/orchestra/composer

Less than 30 DVD’s – no special order

She will buy an occasional CD. I haven’t bought one in several years. The last LP’s I bought are still in the blister wrap, never even opened, from at least 10 years ago. Haven’t bought a cassette tape in that long, either.

I do most of my music listening at Online Radio (streaming) or a local jazz station. I bet I haven’t played an LP in five years – minimum.

I store all of my CDs in Case Logic 264- or 280-disc wallets. The discs are alphebetized within each book, but not across different books-- when I fill one up, I start on a new one and leave the old one as-is. Right now I’m on book #4.

DVDs are in two books, one for TV series and one for movies.

As for the jewel cases and DVD cases: I’m big into packaging and I like to keep it in pristine condition, even though I put the actual discs into wallets right away. Most of that stuff is boxed up in my closet right now, awaiting the day when I get some custom shelving built and put it all up for display.

CDs are broken into three categories: popular, classical, and opera. Opera is very specific: it includes only complete recordings; anthologies go in classical. Popular CDs are organized alphabetically by artist. Classical CDs are organized first be genre (solo vocal, choral, orchestral, solo instrument), then alphabetically by composer if possible, next by performer, finally by title.

Opera is where it gets weird. Operas are organized chronologically by composer and work. This necessitates certain arbitrary decisions (especially with mid- to late-nineteenth-century stuff). This is a quirk of mine–no other system of organizing operas makes sense to me, even though my system doesn’t make a great deal of sense. My scores used to be organized the same way, but are now alphabetical by composer, then chronological by work; this is because my wife needs to find scores too. It always makes me slightly nervous.

Welcome to The Record Room! In the two bookcases in the corner to my left are 10,000 or so 45 RPM singles, arranged alphabetically by year. The LPs (2000 or so) start in one of these cases, alphabetically, A-M. In the two bookshelves in the corner to my right are Beatles singles on top, followed by Beatles LPs (group and solo), then LPs N-Z plus Various Artists. 78 RPM records in cardboard album jackets are on the bottom shelf, and I have another box of 78s in the closet. Where I have more than one single or album by an artist, they are arranged in order of release.

The entire walls to the right and behind me are CD shelves. The first 4 1/4 rows are Beatles. Then it becomes alphabetical and in order of release. There are 14 rows on each wall, A-L and L-Z, all filled to capacity. Various Artists go at the end. I have plastic divider cards for all the formats of media, with the year (singles) or letter of the alphabet (all others) applied as stick-on vinyl lettering. One row behind me is DVDs. I have more box sets than individual discs.

I keep track of everything in two MS Works databases, one for singles, one for albums. There are currently 11,792 entries in singles, 5191 in albums. I’ve written the databases in such a way that I don’t actually know how many singles there are, physically, because it includes a listing for each mix variation on a song, an entry for a song on a 45, but another listing for it on CD. I list everything I have on albums and compilations that was issued as a single. That’s what is taking the longest time in compiling the data. I’m nowhere near finished, and I won’t be for a very long time!

The singles database lists every pertinent fact about the record - A/B sides, running time, chart position, date of issue, label, number, original label and number, country of origin, location of the track on LP or CD, and a Comments field. I also keep track of what’s on CDs in the program Exact Audio Copy. When you insert a disc in the drive, it reads the CD text and stores all the titles in its own rudimentary database.

There are five boxes of cassettes in the next room. I haven’t used any of them, except for transferring some old recordings onto the computer for CDs, since we got our first computer in 1999. There are likely less than a dozen songs on hundreds of tapes that I haven’t got now on a CD. One of these days I will have to throw hundreds of tapes out, but I can’t bring myself to do it just yet.

There are also 300+ VHS tapes stored in more boxes. Someday, I will learn how to transfer VHS video to DVD properly and start on another monumental task of format conversion. Oh yeah, there’s also a box of 8-track tapes and a player in like-new condition, in the closet, too. It looks like I’ll be putting up more shelves, or I’ll wind up with stacks of discs on the floor…

I have about 1,000 CD’s and about 3,000 LP’s, all in absolutely no order at all. And yet, maddeningly (to organization nuts), I can find the one I’m looking for in seconds.

You people are scarily organised.

LPs - the three/four dozen that I still play regularly are in an open fronted cabinet at floor level. No system except the most often played are the most easily found. The rest (a few hundred) are on shelves upstairs as a sort of archive, things get pulled out on a whim now and then. There used to be a system before I moved house (based on spine colour :)), now I just thumb through 'til I find either what I’m looking for or something more interesting.

CDs - 100 in a free standing rack grouped by artist but in no particular order. These would be the sort of Small Clanger rock staple diet: Soft Boys/Beatles/Steely Dan/Floyd/Syd/Who/Zep/Smiths

Two rows of CDs on second level of cabinet, lots of multi-CD sets and ones where I only have one CD by an artist (does anyone need two Motorhead CDs?) grouped roughly by genre (Cramps go alongside The Fall, Kate Bush -> Joni Mitchell, Dylan -> The Band -> Neil Young, seems sensible to me)
On the left stacked on top of the sub-bass unit is most of the classical stuff.

On the top level is stuff that doesn’t belong anywhere else, Conlon Nancarrow, The Bonzo’s BBC sessions, Spike Jones, Tom Lehrer, Clanger music . And also a cache of the current play list, at the moment including System of a Down and The Pupini Sisters.

Sheet music is also a mess, Top of the pile at the moment is Steely Dan and on the stand is System of a Down.

**fishbicycle ** - we have a winner!! Sweet Jesus Spinning at 33 1/3, I knew you had vinyl, but lordy be, had no idea you had that much!! Your nickname should be Tower Records.

Care to share what stereo equipment you play your collection on?

I would love to say I got game the way fb, **VCO3 ** or a few other of you folks clearly do - but it ain’t gonna happen. I have less than 1,000 CD’s and a growing collection of mp3’s but nothing to sniff at - heck, I only have an iPod Shuffle (2nd Gen, so 250 songs) - how pathetic. Organized into:

  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • R&B/Funk
  • Classical - includes avant garde and minimalist
  • Pop/Stuff my Wife will listen to (but that I approve of - e.g., when she bought Sixpence None the Richer, I found it and sold it quickly - she never noticed…)
  • Metal/Stuff only I will listen to (although I force it on my kids, too!)

and a few other random categories of only 1 - 3 discs that fit into funny-shaped gaps in my shelving…

My problem is that whenever I get a few hundred bucks which I can apply to music, it invariably is invested in guitars - okay, maybe amps or other gear, too, but you get the idea. I never have enough to get the music I want!

As previously mentioned by others, my CD’s are alphabetical w/in genre, and are in a corner of my living room, w/ the bulk in a 4-tiered wooden shelf unit, holding around 320? Then, I have a narrow 6-tiered shelf that holds approx 70, that I call my “Soul Tower”, then they get smaller and more hodge podge. An old wine crate holds about 80 of blues on one side, and jazz/classical on the other, a small tower of about 45 holding soundtracks, dance compilations, and reggae, then 3 smaller basket type holders have Folk/Country and Bluegrass, Celtic, and Xmas. Finally, there’s another basket in the car of around 25-30 of whatever I’m grooving on at the time.
There are about 100+ cassettes in the bottom of the entertainment center that I still occasionally pop in, then 4-5 more boxes in the basement that I cannot bear to part w/ either.
Vinyl is negligible, maybe 15-20, in a heavy box in a (cool) storage room, and I tossed my 8-tracks after a move quite awhile ago.

I’d say my CD collection breaks down, roughly:

35% movie music (90% original scores, 10% “soundtracks”) - organized by film title or composer (for compilations)
25% classical music - organized by composer
25% popular music - not separated by genre (except world music), so rock, blues, soul, country, etc. are all together, organized by artist
15% jazz - organized by artist

I stopped counting how many CDs I had at about 1200 or so. They are all in the office closet in two large CD cases (one we had custom built that’s over 6 ft. tall)

The only "musical DVD"s I have are actual musicals (no videos or concert DVDs that weren’t theatrical movies first)–mostly from the 30s-50s. I have perhaps 20.

I have some audio cassette tapes of mixes I always meant to copy onto CD, but I’ve never gotten around to it (I haven’t even converted any of the CDs we have into mp3s yet).

I don’t organise. I’m generally of the “it’ll be where I put it down” philosophy. This applies not only to music, but books, bank statements, spice jars…

With CDs, as with books, I like browsing to search for something, because of the inevitable “oh, I haven’t read/heard that for ages” moments. LPs, I don’t have enough for this to happen. I keep things organised on iTunes only by artist (which I set to composers’ surnames where appropriate, to find things easily on my iPod) and album (which I might set to the name of a multi-movement work).

The one thing that does have a modicum of order is sheet music: violin stuff is on a separate shelf. This stuff is what I mostly need for teaching, while the other shelves are ‘other stuff’.

I wish I could tell you it was all McIntosh, but I’ve got a fairly pedestrian stereo system, except for the main turntable. It’s a Technics SP-10 Mk II (all it does is rotate), with an SME tonearm and Stanton 881S cartridge. It’s mounted in a Gates Radio turntable cabinet from a radio station. There’s a Technics 5CD changer, a Dual 506 belt-drive turntable with Stanton 600 cartridge, a Spectrum graphic EQ/switching station, one Onkyo tape deck and one Technics microprocessor-controlled cassette deck with dbx NR, a JVC integrated amplifier and Technics speakers. I have a custom-built audio switcher that does some functions you can’t buy on a piece of outboard gear. The stereo is connected to my computer via a Turtle Beach Riviera sound card. Headphones are AKG K240M.

I have three other stereo systems still packed up in boxes. Four turntables, one 400 watt Class A receiver and a still-unused Technics integrated amp, five tape decks, and a pair of Camber monitors that need a new tweeter for one, if I ever find out who makes it and how to get one.

You remind me of my father when I was growing up. About 7000 LPs, sorted by genre and then alphabetically (shelves of books and records were the main decorating media in our house). And also reel-to-reel tapes he recorded off the radio. He reduced the collection during a couple of moves and then sold the bulk of it, with shelving, for $400. :frowning: I think he’s happy to have downsized but it seems kind of sad.