How Do You File Your Music?

Albums alphabetically filed under artist folder, sure, and definite article bands like “Black Angels, The” are easy enough. Single name artists like “Hill, Lauryn” are no problem, but stage names can be a problem: “Iggy Pop” rather than “Pop, Iggy” is easy enough, but should it be “Cat Power”, or “Power, Cat?”. And should it be “A Tribe Called Quest”?, or “Tribe Called Quest, A”? These are important questions.

Well, back when I used albums, my system was to put an album to the right of the shelf after I played it. Then the left side of the shelf would be things I hadn’t heard in awhile. Kept me from forgetting about music.

At the radio station, albums were filed by the last name of an individual or the first word of a group name.

And that’s not even getting into the whole thorny problem of collaborations: My Life in Bush of Ghosts is billed on the album cover as by Brian Eno - David Byrne, but in keeping with the alphabetical filing, it has to go under Byrne, David and Eno, Brian. Same problem with Krauss, Alison and Plant, Robert’s Raising Sand.

On my computer/mobile devices, it’s filed however iTunes (or SoundJam MP before that) wants to file it.

In my collection of CDs, indefinite articles are treated like definite articles. Foreign articles for bands that don’t play in that language would be filed under the article. Stage names that look to me like there’s a real first name are filed by their last name, regardless of how real the last name looks – unless the stage name looks like (and/or is) two first names to me. Examples:

Pop, Iggy
Rotten, Johnny
Cat Power
Snoop Dogg
Kendrick Lamar (first and middle names)
Apple, Fiona (also first and middle names, but doesn’t look like it to me)
Tribe Called Quest, A
Le Tigre
Los Lobos

You didn’t ask, but there’s also:

Folds Five, Ben
Hatfield Three, The Juliana

Not if you store your music digitally and have a halfway decent player. The one I use (Clementine) automatically indexes all my music according to the tags embedded in the songs; the directory structure for the individual music files is irrelevant. The player is configured to show an alphabetized tree list of artists in the left-hand pane; expanding an artist entry shows their albums. It’s smart enough to ignore articles (“A”, “The”) when sorting, but this is irrelevant because 99% of the time if I want to find an artist I just start typing the name in the search bar. This has the advantage of returning not only the artist’s albums, but also individual tracks by the artist that appear on compilations and soundtrack. The only time I scroll through the artist list is when I don’t have an idea yet of what I want to listen to and want some inspiration; in this case the order of the list is irrelevant anyway.

Yes, this. I tag mine with Musicbrainz and Kodi organises them by the tags. Nobody cares how my folders are arranged.

A similar thread I started a few months ago.

However the computer wants to file it. I just search for music I want to listen to. Before that, just throw CDs randomly across a CD folder, or on a CD tree or tapes in the box. No rhyme or reason behind it, but I never had more than maybe 50-75 physical pieces of music media around.

Alphabetically by artist. My alphabet is slightly different from most people’s, though. Mine goes Kesha, A, B, C, D, etc. There could be controversy over where to put my Tom Petty albums vs. my Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers albums (should the latter be filed under T or P?) I decided long ago that they should be filed under P and intermixed with the Tom Petty albums.

When I used to make sure my CDs were in order because I was young and with too much time on my hands, I just did first letter of artist, alphabetical, ignoring articles. Tom Petty under “T”, Fiona Apple under “F”, 10,000 Maniacs under “T”, all the Pretenders albums under “P” regardless of how their coin flip turned out for that album.

Alphabetical artist folders, then album folders within the artist folders.

The only confusion comes with whether it’s “The Pixies” or “Pixies”, stuff like that. And a lot of band names begin with “The” so that section is a little bigger.