8 Ways to Organize Your Music Collection

I have always been amused that even the poorest guy will have a stereo system. My wealthy male clients often have their sound technicians show up to hook up their stereos before the moving truck pulls out of the driveway. Men usually have fairly complicated organizing systems for their records, CDs and tapes. If you have such a man in your home, let him take the reins on this project. Or you might ask a male friend what kind of system he created and borrow some of his ideas.

For the neophyte, here are eight ideas to help you get control of this important part of life. After all, it is music that calms us, inspires us, entertains us and even soothes the savage beast in us.

  • If you are patient and meticulous, put everything in alphabetical order, either by title, composer or performer.
  • Should you be so inclined, make a master computer list of everything you own.
  • If you have a record collection and no longer play them, consider storing them where they will be safe. You don't want them damaged by humidity or heat, nor do you want to place anything heavy on the boxes that hold them.
  • No matter what source (record, cassette or CD) you rely on for your listening pleasure, you can best keep track of everything by dividing the collection first into different types of music. Such as:
    1. Rock
    2. Alternative rock
    3. Jazz
    4. Country-western
    5. Broadway
    6. Classical/opera
    7. Big band/orchestral

Once the categories have been separated out, you can further refine them in this way:

  1. Male vs. female vocalist
  2. Specific groups (baby boomers always have their Beatles albums in one place)
  3. Italian, French or German operas (Puccini and Wagner probably don't want to sit together)
  4. Broadway musicals separated by decade or composer (Rodgers & Hammerstein in one corner, Sondheim in the other)
  5. Classical music divided by composer or era



It's really all about playing with your collection and reducing it to categories that are familiar and comfortable for you personally.

  • If you have stereo systems in more than one area of the house, divide your collection so that you can store your CDs in the room where they will most likely be played.
  • Get containers made specifically for keeping cassettes, CDs and albums in order.
    1. You can use the fancy ones for the items you want on display in the room at all times.
    2. The more casual containers work well inside the cupboards of an entertainment center. I like the acrylic ones best.
    3. If money permits, a carpenter can build storage compartments into the drawers of an armoire or other entertainment center.
    4. One of my clients had so many CDs, we used a tall, inexpensive bookcase to house them neatly in the living room.
  • Have you lost the containers your cassettes and tapes were sold in? Plain ones are available at your audio and video store.
  • Do you live in a postage-stamp apartment? Research catalogs. Shop in stores to see what multipurpose furniture is available. Limited space requires creative solutions. It also demands being ruthless about what is absolutely needed.

People very often think there is a right and a wrong way to store their musical collections. Let's remember our three-step formula:

  • Eliminate what you no longer take the time to enjoy.
  • Categorize your collection.
  • Organize your records, cassettes, and CDs using these tips as a creative guideline.

It's not about being right or wrong. It's about achieving easy access to the things that bring you joy.

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