This is one of these issues that should be straightforward but where a multitude of tiny devils hide in the details. The most basic rule is rather simple: I would put one album into one directory (aka folder), not more and not less. I would furthermore start with a folder (say d:\Music\) and have this fan out according to the artists you have (or will) put into MP3 or WMA. Well, as usual a picture says more than 1000 words…
Each artist's directory in turn holds all the albums of this particular artist, one folder per album (see the four albums for 10cc as an example). Finally we have the songs themselves, stored in these second-level folders (see Bruce Springsteen). All this is rather straightforward: the artist (or group) name is the first folder name, the album the second and then there are the songs, ie the actual MP3/WMA files. But there are a few things you should think about before you take any final decisions, let alone rip your first albums:
- How do you handle double or triple albums? I normally suffix the album title with a “(1)”, “(2)” etc. See the Springsteen albums in the picture.
- What about “Best of” stuff or similar standard titles? It's not very enlightening to have the LCD display of the player show a list of ten albums all just named “The Very Best Of”. I have solved this specific problem by always appending the name of the artist/group to the Album [in square brackets, like this], so that this name is there actually twice: once in the first, per-artist directory and then again in all the albums (see the graphic). At first this seems to be overkill, but trust me, sooner or later you will see the advantages of doing it this way.
- How do you handle compilations? These present special problems, as there are many artists on one CD. I have adopted a special artist folder for that purpose, called “Various Artists”. Under “Various Artists” every such album gets its own folder, as usual. In the folders, every filename consists of two parts: the artist and the song title, the two separated by a hyphen. There are a few other schemes for this around — whatever scheme you decide to adopt, make sure that you think of the inevitable special cases. (They will come.)
- One last hint as to the directory structure: whatever structure you choose in the end — stick to it religiously. The various folder names and the song filenames are among the most important criteria to locate, sort, copy and otherwise manipulate your MP3 collection: once you have thousands and thousands of tracks on your hard disk you'll be very happy indeed that they all can be manipulated with exactly the same basic set of commands. Not to talk about when disaster strikes (sooner or later, it will strike) and you lose, let's say, the tags of a whole directory or even worse: with a clever directory structure, similar to the one outlined above, and a few freeware utilities, you can easily recreate the tags, at least the most important ones.
As to the names of the MP3/WMA files themselves, that's pretty straightforward: I have first the track number starting with a 01 (ie zero-padded. This padding is important… don't forget it.). The reason for starting with the number is simple: a lot of the cheaper players simply play files alphabetically which means that it will play havoc with the titles if they don't start with the numbers. After the number there's a blank as separator, followed by the actual song title and then .mp3 or .wma. Once again, there are one or two points to keep in mind:
- What about special/invalid characters in song titles? For instance, Windows can't include “?” or “*” in filenames. Again, adopting and sticking to a consistent scheme is important. I simply delete invalid characters, while other people replace them with “_” or other allowed characters.
- It is also possible to put other information into the filename (like year of release or the genre). I don't do that, as this is not an important thing for me to have there, but it pays to make sure you know what you can do… before you have actually converted hundreds of songs and then discover that let's say, having the year in the title would be nice (for instance, I have release year and album title in the directory name). Splicing something like this onto the filename “after the fact” is of course possible but it can be a huge hassle.
$updated from: Directory Structure.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:14:24 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$