Organizing record collection: when do you start separating out a genre?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Turnaround, Nov 24, 2021 at 1:25 PM.

  1. Turnaround

    Turnaround Member your mama warned you about Thread Starter

    New York
    When do people start separating out a music genre in their physical record collection?

    I have always separated out my classical music, soundtracks and multi-artist compilations: they don't follow my alphabetical-by-artist-name order for how I organize my main collection. So it always made sense to me to separate those out of my main collection, with their own rules for how to put in order.

    Beyond that, I have started separating out genres when I've gotten to a large number of albums in a particular genre, say 50 to 100. I have separated out genres like jazz, country, bluegrass, hip-hop and electronic. But I've never separated out genres like rock, classic rock, alternative rock, heavy metal, punk, pop, R&B, funk, soul, reggae -- I have many albums in those genres, but they are all mixed together in my main collection.

    I suppose in my head, genres like jazz, country, bluegrass, hip-hop and electronic are much more distinctly differentiated styles than metal and rock are, so I generally know whether I've filed a particular artist under that separate genre. Whereas separating out, say, R&B from funk or metal from rock will lead to a lot of difficult decisions which genre some artists fall into. For something like country, there is a lot of cross over between that genre and my main collection when you get into artists that are Americana (Sun Volt or Gram Parsons) or pop (Taylor Swift). But I've generally filed under country stuff that is pretty "country" at core, and any iffy stuff goes in my main collection. Some of my choices on separating genres may also be influenced by what I see record stores in how they separate out genres.

    I would be interested in hearing how others decide when they should separate out parts of their collection by music genre.
    Bingo Bongo likes this.
  2. Centralscrutinizer

    Centralscrutinizer Forum Resident

    I've got a separate place for all my Frank Zappa material, I suppose that's a genre in it's own right, but is mainly based on the large number of CD's and Albums.
    CassetteDek, porter_esq and Fischman like this.
  3. sons of nothing

    sons of nothing Forum Resident

    Regardless of the genre, I've always found it best to do everything alphabetically. It's cool to see Gram Parsons next to Pantera or Jeff Beck next to Behemoth.

    If you separate by genre, then you'd hsve to have a larger collection in those genres,maybe more than 200 in each one.

    Movie soundtracks, if you have that many, should probably be separated on their own.
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  4. Jamsterdammer

    Jamsterdammer Forum Resident

    Over the years, I ended up with the following separations by music genre:

    - Acid Jazz & Trip-Hop
    - Alternative & Indie
    - Bluegrass & Country
    - Blues, Folk-Rock, Southern-Rock
    - Classic Rock & Pop
    - Classical - General
    - Classical - Medieval
    - Classical - Renaissance
    - Classical - Baroque
    - Classical - Classical
    - Classical - Romantic
    - Classical - 20th Century
    - Classical - Contemporary
    - EDM, IDM, Ambient
    - Funk, Soul, Dance, R&B
    - Jazz, Swing, Fusion
    - Krautrock & Early Electronic
    - New Wave & Post-Punk
    - Post-Rock
    - Progressive & Psychedelic Rock
    - World Music - Africa
    - World Music - Asia
    - World Music - Europe
    - World Music - Latin America & Caribbean

    Of course, these are not ironclad separations. For example, I decided that "Classic Rock & Pop" ends in the early 1980s and any later Rock & Pop falls under "Alternative & Indie", but I also have the category "New Wave & Post-Punk". My criteria for putting an artist in any of these three categories is by the type of music they started out with. Thus, The Rolling Stones are in "Classic Rock & Pop" despite the fact that they released albums even this century. R.E.M are "Alternative & Indie". U2 are "New Wave & Post-Punk" as that was the scene in which they emerged, even though they moved away from that. Also, the division between "Krautrock & Early Electronic" and "EDM, IDM, Ambient" lies somewhere in the middle of the 1980s. With classical composers that straddle two eras, I put them in the era they started composing music in, So all my Beethoven is filed under "Classical" and not "Romantic".

    This is basically what works for me. Not perfect, but genres are never perfectly separated. At least I'm able to find all my music very quickly.
  5. Braido

    Braido Member

    Terrace, BC Canada
    I have a small collection of around 300 albums. I organize everything by alphabetical order and do not separate by genre. There is always an exception and that would be my Led Zeppelin albums as I keep them separate right beside my turntable as I play them more than anything else.
    kundryishot and Marc Perman like this.
  6. pscreed

    pscreed Upstanding Member

    Land of the Free
    I once knew a guy - with many, many thousands of records - that filed by when he bought the LP. In other words, on the right of the previous record he got. No genres, no alphabetical, nothing.

    He could always get to what he wanted in seconds. And of course nobody else could ever find anything.

    ET3311, Quincy, action pact and 11 others like this.
  7. dorium_tres

    dorium_tres Forum Resident

    San Francisco
    everything is Genre>Alphabetical right now. Then I look at the artists I have a lot of records from (Prince, Talking Heads, Hank Mobley, Miles Davis, Osees) and I'll leave them in the genre>Alphabetical filing, but include their own buffer tab for the artist specifically. That usually happens when I hit 10-15 records from an artist.
  8. Roland Stone

    Roland Stone Offending Member

    Your record organization should serve you, not an imagined ideal.

    For example, I have all my surf CDs segregated because, well, I have to be in a certain bouncy mood to enjoy them. I don't generally want to hear them alongside the Rolling Stones or Marvin Gaye. So they get their own shelf.
  9. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo Music gives me Eargasms

    Ottawa, Canada
    I have Classical Music, but I don't separate it from my Classic Rock, Metal, Pop, Country, or any other genres....
  10. Eigenvector

    Eigenvector Forum Resident

    Southeast PA
    I have around 5,000 LPs and around 10,000 CDs. My head would explode if I got too granular with genres so I only break them up into 3. Classical, Jazz and "Everything Else", which is mostly Rock and Pop.
  11. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    new york city
    I do classical, jazz, and everything else.
  12. nosliw

    nosliw It's a hairstyle, not real cat ears :P

    Ottawa, ON, Canada
    I separate the soundtracks, going by the name of the title, and compilations from the rest of my collection.
  13. Luvtemps

    Luvtemps Forum Resident

    I would never find anything in my collection if it wasn't organized, Jazz, Soul, Standards, Male Soloist, Female Artist, Groups...gotta have order!
  14. Theacademyinperil

    Theacademyinperil Forum Resident

    Clifton Park NY
    Except for jazz and box sets (defined as three discs or more), I break out sections by format rather than genre. So I've got a CD/DVD combo section, DVD-Audio, SACD, Dualdisc, MVI and my favorite: bluray audio. Oh, due to shelf constraints oversize single and double-discs also have their own section.
  15. tonyballz

    tonyballz Roogalator

    I've been a radio DJ for years (and have done my share of parties too) so it made sense to split up my collection of 3000+ records into genres because it made finding things easier.

    * Core collection (1950s, 1960s, 1970s, some 1980s)
    * 1980s pop (I used to host '80s dance parties and it made sense to separate Men Without Hats, Icicle Works etc. from the core collection)
    * 1990s to present
    * Punk/post punk
    * Goth/industrial
    * Soul/R&B/Disco
    * Jazz/Blues
    * Country
    * Classical
    * Comedy/spoken

    There's also an odd little corner of post rock and Krautrock albums I feel kind of go together: Tortoise, The Sea And Cake, June Of 44, Slint, Rodan, Don Caballero, Can, Faust, NEU!, Savage Republic, PIL, etc.

    Bands that straddle genres I put where it feels right. Talking Heads and The Police go in the core collection, not post punk or 1980s. All Neil Young and Dylan LPs go in the core, no matter what year they were released.

    It's pretty subjective but it all works for me.
    Jamsterdammer likes this.
  16. Rob Hughes

    Rob Hughes Forum Resident

    Though I also divvy up my "everything else" CDs into decades, with the pre-50s "everything else" titles as if in the same decade.

    But I've occasionally had regrets. Maybe I should integrate jazz into the everything else category: maybe my 60s jazz should be with my 60s pop? my 50s jazz with my 50s pop? Maybe! And then, once I've thought through the jazz problem, I typically go on to think that I should just fold in the classical stuff too, by century and then (post-1950) by decade.

    Quandaries of a large collection!

    One plus of the decade organization: it used to be that visitors would come upon my McCartney shelf and slowly, cautiously edge their way out of my apartment, wide-eyed and more than a little frightened. But, broken up into decades, the McCartney shelves -- while still excessive -- are less imposing and less of a social problem. ;)
  17. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek I’m a ray of sunshine & bastion of positivity

    Physical library = everything is together and straight alphabetized. My digital library is were I go crazy with different genres.
    georgespigott likes this.
  18. chervokas

    chervokas Forum Resident

    I started with the stuff separated by genre 30 years ago, when the stuff got upwards of 3K items in all kinds of genres, it just started to seem silly and not useful to me. I don't think about the music according to genres, so why am I separating them out like that. To the extent that the stuff is in any kind of order at all it's alphabetical by artist. For classical it's mostly alphabetical by composer, maybe by the composer of the album's lead piece, or maybe by performer if the album is one I think of in terms of the performer. Soundtracks come first alpha by title, followed by Various Artist anthologies organized the same way. The goal is for me to find it more easily so it's organized base on what I think about when I think I want to hear it. I'm never thinking about hearing one genre or another, just about one specific piece of music or another, to the system just really need to help me do that.
    Lanark likes this.
  19. sbeck201

    sbeck201 Forum Resident

    Wreay, Cumbria, UK
    I have three sections for CD albums:-

    1) Pop/Rock A -Z by artist surname or group name
    2) Various Artist compilations (no particular order)
    3) Classical Music A-Z (by composer)

    CD singles are filed A-Z by artist.

    My LPs and 12" singles are both ordered by artist A-Z although my 7" singles are in boxes and not sorted.

    Although I don't buy many CDs these days I still have a few unsorted piles for which I don't have any shelf space.

    I would find it difficult to sort artist by genre particularly as many have releases in more than one.
    Dennis Metz likes this.
  20. juss100

    juss100 Forum Resident

    Classical, Opera, other theatre/soundtracks Jazz, Rock-related, Pop, J-pop/Japanese (I organise my musicbee library roughly like this as well, with separate Prog Rock, Kpop, Bollywood and anime sections)

    I guess it depends how you like to think about what you might want to play. It's easy to know in my head if I want to listen to Opera vs Jpop at a given moment so why would I lump them all-in on the shelf. Ease of use is the primary thing and I'm a believer in browsing.
  21. Nostradamus

    Nostradamus Forum Resident

    It's not even in alphabetical order or sorted by artist. Not a chance I'm separating by genre. Once it's all been digitized I'll probably get rid of the discs themselves though
  22. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, England
    I've always separated genres so I have:
    Reggae including all forms of Jamaican music, Reggae from any country, Calypso and any other music from the British West Indies.
    Jazz in all it's many forms.
    Soul and Funk, this includes fifties R 'n' B, Disco, modern R 'n' B, the odd House record and some other modern "Dance" music.
    Hip Hop.
    Soundtracks, film, TV, libraries and radio, I've prioritized it over other genres so a Jazz, /Reggae or Soul soundtrack will be in the soundtracks, Bollywood subsection.
    Local music, need to prioritize it over some other genres.
    African music, this excludes full on Jazz musicians such as Dollar Brand or Hugh Masakela who are in Jazz, but includes both ethnographic and all forms of popular music .
    Indian music including Middle Eastern and Asian music, everything from ethnographic, folk, tribal, classical and popular, but excluding film music.
    Brazilian and Latin American plus Central America, Mexico and Cuba.
    Country and Bluegrass, some Americana has ended up in there.
    Prince and related.
    Rock and Pop.
    Modern Classical and related such as early electronic music.
    Classical, early music up to the 19th century.
    Flamenco/Spanish Guitar/Gypsy
    Easy Listening.
    Ethnographic/Folk/Traditional that isn't filed in another geographic related section, so Eastern European and former Soviet states mostly.
    The Rolling Stones.
    Rock 'n' Roll: Elvis, Little Richard, Buddy Holly etc.

    I think that about covers it.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021 at 3:39 PM
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  23. John Moschella

    John Moschella Senior Member

    Christiansburg, VA
    I'm in the same boat. I used to have a ton of genres, then one day I couldn't find something I wanted to listen to. Honestly, it was just stupid.
    So I went back to the 3; Classical, Jazz, and the rest.
    Works for me.
    frightwigwam and Eigenvector like this.
  24. babyblue

    babyblue Pactches Pal!

    Pacific NW
    I don't even consider genre. Alphabetical by artist, chronological by release date. That's about it. A method that has worked for me for over 50 years.
  25. Dubmart

    Dubmart Forum Resident

    Bristol, England
    I totally forgot French music, I have quite a lot of it.
    Even worse, I forgot Blues.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2021 at 7:51 PM

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