Your vinyl records collection isn’t just a way to listen to music. It’s the showpiece of your living room (or your listening room). You’ve invested in custom shelving and created your own DIY display cases for those especially rare vinyl records.
So, what goes where? How do you organize your records?
Before you start filling up that new set of shelves, ask yourself:
- How do I listen to music on my own?
- Which system would help me entertain guests?
- Do other people (partners, roommates, etc.) need to understand my system?
If you come home thinking, “Cuban salsa, tonight it’s going to be all Cuban salsa,” the genre method is for you. If you regularly debate the subtleties of crustpunk and electrofox with the other regulars at the record store, this system is definitely for you.
The genre method of organizing vinyl records involves creating your own “record store” at home. You can dig through your outlaw country section and see what strikes your fancy. When your friends come over, you can show them what you have to offer in each of their favorite categories.
If you’re especially hard-core about organization (you know who you are), you can organize your titles by artist within each genre/category.
If you know exactly what you want—and who tickles your fancy—a simple alphabetical system might be right for you. By keeping your vinyl record organization system simple, you can find the music you want in a heartbeat while DJing your next house party. You’ll also rest easy, knowing your housemates can understand your system and put things back where they belong.
Most people find organizing titles by the artist’s last name (or band name) is the most convenient system.
By Album Color
Some of us love love love album art. If you remember images better than names, consider grouping your albums by color. This method allows you to incorporate your albums into the décor of your listening room – and show off your favorites when company comes calling.
By Album Name
If you prefer listening to entire albums instead of just single songs, you may want to organize your vinyl records collection by album name. This method works best for people who put on records while entertaining or simply relax to full albums with their favorite beverages.
Some of us love pop culture and thrive on their knowledge of famous (and obscure) record labels. If you often feel the urge to create compilations of Sun, Sub Pop, or Third Man artists, take the plunge and sort your vinyl records by record companies.
Chronological by Album Release Date
Armchair music historians can’t resist the impulse to sort their catalog by date. This system will help you memorize release dates and increase your music knowledge, though your partner may have trouble understanding your system. Better yet, the album release date method helps you notice and confirm artists’ influences on each other (even across genres).
High Fidelity fans may want to try this comprehensive (and deeply personal) vinyl record system. However, good luck to any roommates/family members who want to crack this code.
The autobiographical method is, from a certain perspective, a chronological system. To pull this off, you need to remember when you bought each and every album. If you love the feeling of purchasing a new record, taking it home, and listening to it over and over, you might want to try this challenging (and rewarding) system.
Last, but not least, consider the many album-organizational apps available for your smart phone/computer. If you maintain a massive collection, you’ll need some extra help to keep track of your growing passion!