Organize – Song Writing Quick Tips 2

If you don’t have a story of losing your data or having it stolen then you know someone who does.  Have you ever found the ultimate webpage, closed the tab and cleared your history only to look for it later?  Often, you won’t find this easy.  That illustrates how hard it is to keep track of your data.  All these problems can be solved if you organize your computer’s folder structure, file labeling and backup system.  Join me as I show you how I do it so you can walk away squared away. 

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Organize With Dedication

The best tip I can give you, besides the next one, is to organize and dedicate your computer folders.  I know you’ve probably tried to do this before but check out how I have it.  All my music-making folders are under one global folder called ‘Original Music’.  Take a look:

Original Music global folder and its three sub-folders.

Inside of that master folder I have three sub-folders which are called ‘Archive’, ‘Current Practice Logs’, and ‘Production Library’.  Let’s peek into the Archive folder real quick:

The contents of the Archive sub-folder.

By looking at the image above, you can see that the Archive folder contains folders that I labeled with past years such as ‘2011’, 2015′, etc.  There also resides a ‘Repertoire Releases Copyright’ folder that holds just those items.  You might be wondering what’s in those year folders and I’m about to show you:

Here you can see the details of how I organize my files by year.

Every yearly folder links to its constituent monthly folders.  The nomenclature I use, which I’ll explain in further detail later, is YYYYMM00.  I append two zeros to the end of my monthly folders because I organize them by name and, if I don’t do it, they won’t line up chronologically. 

E.T., Fold Home

Inside of each monthly folder are, you guessed it, more sub-folders.  This file tree level is my day-to-day home base.  As you can observe by looking at the sidebar to the left, I keep the current, and usually the previous, month’s folders easily accessible.  I place into this folder more folders which represent my daily activities:

  • Ideas is for keeping notes I take whenever I’m feeling inspired.
  • Images hold cat gifs, screenshots, and fine art n3Wdz.
  • Money is something we all need.  You’ll organize your receipts here.
  • Music is special and contains: Analysis, Originals, Other, Practice.
  • Other basically functions as my /b/, i.e. Random section.
  • Video gets video practice and assets.  Big projects live elsewhere.

In the erstwhile, I’ve shown you my global folder, Archive, and Current Practice Logs.  The final folder we’ll peer into is my Production Library.  I use this when I cook beats but you can also have video clips or other digital assets for making media:

This is where the magic happens.

Please examine the image above.  The Presets folder has two sub-folders: Synths and FX.  The only thing I’ll add is that, based on what you make, you can organize these folders differently.  At the same time, try to appreciate the value of each folder I’ve shown.

My Notebook Has A First Name

Soon after ETS-ing from the U.S. Army, I began using 24-hour time.  While this doesn’t seem like a very artsy thing to do, it has its uses.  Primarily, like I already mentioned, if you organize your files by name, this will make them display chronologically.  Every file I make has the following structure:

YYYYMMDD_24HR - Type - Name

An example of this is the title of the notes document I’m using to compose this post:

20180824_0802 - Note - SWQT 2

In addition to using this method digitally, I adhere to this regulation in the analog world:

Pictured: Notebook 1 and Manuscript 1 for “Empty Cup”.

For these tomes, I abbreviate the book name and also include the page number.  Then I copy that ledger entry into its companion. 

NB1.pp = Notebook
MS1.pp = Manuscript

If you want, you can relay this information in your digital versions as well.  If I’ve made a voice memo recording of the session, I use the abbreviation VM then add the date in MM/DD/YYYY format and the title last.  While this is different than my year-first convention, it mirrors the Voice Memos app format.

Back That Thing Up

As I alluded to in the beginning of this post, data gets lost, stolen, and misplaced.  You always think it won’t happen to you until it does.  Let me encourage you to back up your data. 

Before you do that, make sure you organize your files in a coherent way.  By doing this you’ll be off and running should you have to replace just a segment of your information.  They say you need three copies so that’s your original drive, a backup drive, and an off-site backup.

For my external drive, I use an encrypted HDD.  I actually don’t know whether it’s 5400 or 7200 RPM but, for backup, you can use a slower platter.  They’re internal drives wrapped in an OWC Elite enclosure and connected via USB.

I use Backblaze for my off-site storage.  Having never needed to restore my data, I can’t tell you whether they’ll work.  Even so, their background task is unobtrusive and if you’ve messed up your payment, they don’t instantly delete your data.  When I was shopping for options, I wanted video backup and they do it so I went with them.  Click the affiliate link to get a free trial.

Origami Folders

Paper air planes are origami, right?  What makes a good plane?  I have no clue but making sharp creases probably helps.  That will segment your parts, making them functional and sharp. 

I heard someone say that their brain is like an Etch A Sketch in that, once created and subsequently erased, you never get it back again.  Since many of us are disjointedly scatterbrained, do yourself a favor and do three things: organize your files, label consistently and backup your data.

Thanks for reading.  If you don’t know, I’m Michael Carrillo, aka Hexspa, and I make music.  Should you be feeling frisky, check it out my sounds here.  You can also join my Hexie Dose Newsletter to get free stuff every month.  I publish every Monday 4PM, PST so come hang out next week for more tunes, treatises, and tutorials.


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