HEY LOOK! This is in no way advice to others; these are basically notes to myself. I am a bottom rank sh*t novice with no public performance experience. I'm taking notes now for the future. You were warned. The only thing I'll say in defense of these ideas at this point is that I'm copying from people better than me, and I'm organized, and I test, test, test. If you use anything here and your laptop catches fire, it's your own stupid fault.
I intended to write about technique not tools, but there's few enough worth a damn… so it goes. This is all open source software.
I have a dedicated, modest, music computer; it does nothing else. Ubuntu linux, Intel dual core, 4GM ram, two disks in RAID1, M-Audio 2496 sound card for the main outs, and the onboard soundcard for headphones. I keep a simple file hierarchy for storing music; a directory ingeniously named Music/ that contains directories with tracks in various states of existence:
|Incoming/||CDs ripped by Grip store here (Artist/Album). This where the CD ripper, grip, stores its results. Things don't live there long. If CDDB uses crazy filenames I can at least find the resulting files, and not have to search for the scattered throughout the Collection. I rip at the highest-possible sound quality; disk space is cheap and getting cheaper, and bad sound sucks.|
|Collection/||This is the complete collection of all of my music, entire ripped CDs, etc, for archiving, error recovery and casual listening.|
|Psy/||Ready to DJ (psytrance) tracks, only. This is a subset of the Collection, with all non-mix-able tracks removed. All tracks in here are within the desired BPM range, culled of dud tracks, and are all marked with my own ID3 “genre” tags.|
|Trance/||Ready to DJ trance tracks, as above.|
The DJ software, mixxx, uses Music/Psy has it's music collection.
It's been tough to find a program to manage my collection. The trick is to be able to listen to track(s), edit ID3 tags and delete .mp3 files. Many promise to do it (amarok, juk, …) but all have some problem. So far, rhythmbox is the best; to change “collections” I have to Edit → Preferences, quit and restart, and sometimes more; but at least it works. (With juk I was utterly unable to find a way to change the collection itself after initial setup. Amarok… drowning in it's own feature list.)
When I get new CD(s), I deal with them like so:
I don't always do all steps all in one sitting. Almost always I'll immediately rip newly purchased discs, and do the rest of the steps as I get to them, moving completed discs into Psy, and leaving un-processed dics in Ripped. This way I know where I left off – anything left in Ripped is incomplete.
A copy goes into my music player (Creative Zen V) for listening, and the Ripped directory left empty for the next round.
These are the tags I use in the ID3 GENRE field to label and organize my music. Most of the music players I've looked at handle searching and sorting based upon genre tag. Your mileage may vary. The important thing here (if there is one) is consistency. I keep this in a little text file in my home dir and update as necessary (with comments, eg. a canonical track/performer that defines that category).
|full||a bit full-on for me|
|light||as in not dark, not l-i-t-e|
Oh yeah, that. Basically I launch rhythmbox, point it to the Psy/ directory, and start picking songs. Often when I'm casually listening to music, on my Zen, in the car, etc, I'll think “that would make a good opener”. So I start with one of those. As far as the actual process of making a good playlist, well ask an expert, but basically I queue up songs for playing, if I like it, I right-click and copy to a playlist. (With rhythmbox, in the right-click menu there's an option to make a new playlist; I do that for the first song (usually named something ingenious like today's date)).
Playlists remain internal to rhythmbox until you export them, which is simply right-click the playlist name in the left column, save-as a filename in your home directory.
It's easier to find playlists in mixxx if you copy them into it's music collection root directory (in my case ~/Music/).
Much of this arrangement was copied from this person:
Who I thank thoroughly for hir concise notes!