Using Shortcodes and Subgenres in your DJ Library

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Prefacing this from iTunes

Before we dive into shortcodes and subgenres let’s provide a little bit of history on my original organization of music. Many years ago I used to rely on iTunes to manage much of the structure of my music. Since it handled the folder structure all I had to do is create some smart playlists to help organize music to my liking. But maintaining multiple databases, be it iTunes and Serato or say iTunes and VDJ, things would get out of sync and just really was not worth it. So I set out on a mission on how to recreate some of the key features that I used in iTunes and transplant that into my DJ application of choice.

So what was my goal? Simply put, being able to recall music as quickly as possible. So the first things I had to think about is what music am I recalling. In iTunes that usually is related to my star rating that at least signifies the likelihood of wanting to play that song during a period of time. But with iTunes that is all I had was a rating, nothing more. How could I better leverage that rating. For instance there are songs I personally love but might be less likely the crowd does.

What is this Shortcode you talk about?

So that begat the first element of my shortcode system, a system that would come up with abbreviations that normally wouldn’t come up in search so it was very easy to pull out. In this case SRT became my “sorting code” which transposed my star rating over. So a 5-star rated song became SRT5, 4, SRT4 and so on. That was great for my own personal rating but how about how it would relate to the events I do.

That is when I came up with my music “types”, CMY for ceremony, C&D for cocktail & dinner, and DNC for dancing. I could assign a number to give my preference as I would rate it for the crowd’s potential like of a song that differers from my own personal tastes. 

Rating of music now has its rankings, but what about other things that has some meaning. Well I can bake in the mood of a song, with SLW for a SLW song or CLB for a real club banger. Do I have the song on vinyl (which I still collect)? Then mark it as VNL7 for a 7” single, VNL12 for a 12” single, and VNLLP for a full album. It sure helps with staging up an all vinyl set.

And most importantly to a mobile DJ, CLN tags my clean tracks while XPL goes to my explicit tracks.

So where to sore these shortcodes? For me I wanted to leave the comment field free in case I wanted to capture even more info about a song, At the time I started this Serato had the composer tag available and it’s something I really didn’t use. So it became the home of my shortcodes. When I switched to Virtual DJ it lacked the ability to search the field, but after mentioning it in the support forums they quickly added it (talk about great support).

Subgeneres adds depth to your catalog

An additional element I wanted to make sure I captured was the subgenre of an artist and song while preserving the core genre as it’s own thing. So I created a stringent genre system that things had to fall under

  • Classical
  • Country
  • Dance
  • Hip Hop
  • Jazz
  • Latin
  • Pop
  • R&B
  • Reggae
  • Rock
  • Other

But songs can naturally live in so many varied places. A disco song could have more R&B roots or just based off Dance. A hip hop song could be more pop than anything. Reggaeton, Bachata, New Wave, Freestyle, West Coast, Yacht Rock, the lists can go on and on. But I wanted to make sure I captured as much of the essence as possible. 

So that is what I do for my songs. I use the grouping tag to be my home for subgenres and plug away. The more detail the better. 

With all this information, and my short codes, it allows me to search with great detail beyond just an artist or song title. 

  • I want a west coast hip hop song that the dance crowd will love. Got it.
  • Some yacht rock that works for dinner. Absolutely.
  • Couple wants some serious deep New Wave tracks. Here you go.
  • House music from the late 90s? Bam.

The more information, the better

While I know a ton about the music I love, it truly helps to have that all searchable in my database. It speeds up the process of music selection so I can focus on other aspects of managing my events. It also helps me rediscover tracks I might have forgotten about to take more risks in expanding the playlists to new places.

Also having these shortcodes and other data points allows me to create smart creates (for Serato) and smart filters (for Virtual DJ) to give me a basis to work off of. For instance I have root filters for decades, genres, music types, star ratings, all to help me navigate around a large library of possibilities. 

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