After completing this process you will not only be able to find any record in your collection with ease, but you will have a firmer understanding and appreciation for the music you have gathered or inherited over the years.
Not much is needed to complete these tasks, just a certain amount of time and care.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Materials
2. Crates. Plastic or wooden crates are needed to hold your records once you have them divided up. Some people have shelving units that work great as well. (DO NOT stack records flat on top of each other, this will eventually cause damage to the disc)
3. Basic to advanced knowledge of the alphabet. This will come in handy when you need to alphabetize by group name. If you need help in this department, consult your local kindergarten teacher.
4. Some knowledge of musical genres and where bands fall into them. This can become difficult if you are organizing records you've never listened to, in which case consult the internet. (Ex. Led Zeppelin vs. Herbie Hancock. What genre is each?)
5. Lots of time...
Step 2: Divide by Genre
For the sake saving space it is important to keep your genres somewhat broad.
The general rule of five I use breaks down into:
-Crap I will never listen to
Of course if you have a substantial amount of country, hip hop, or electronica records, feel free to make them into their own group. Some people see these groups as being too broad, as Rock can encompass so many things, but for my collection it works just fine.
An example of this dividing process would be:
The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan- Bob Dylan (Rock)
My Favorite Things-John Coltrane (Jazz)
The Doors - The Doors (Rock)
Hot Dawg - David Grisman (Bluegrass)
David Burton reads 15 poems by Dylan Thomas (Crap/Why do I own this?)
Step 3: Alphabetizing
When alphabetizing it is important to remember the basic rules of organization.
1. If it is a single artist, file by last name not first (i.e. Jerry Garcia goes under G not J, Miles Davis is in D not M)
2. Do not include the word "The" in your organization (unless you are filing the band The The)
3. Remember to organize in a way that best suites you. If it is easier for you to remember the Top Gun soundtrack by how many Kenny Loggins songs are on it, then file it under L for Loggins.
Step 4: Chronology
Once you have divided your genres into bands in alphabetical order, you can now organize those band's records in the order they were released.
Often times records will have the year they were released printed somewhere on the album, however due to wear and tear or artsy album covers it is sometimes hard to read this date. This is when the internet will become your best friend. You can easily look up any album and find out when it was released and file accordingly.
Pink Floyd's "Meddle" was released prior to "Ummagumma" so it would be filed before it, though "Wish You Were Here" would be filed after both of them.
Step 5: Enjoy!
At this point you should have a record collection divided into genre, organized by artist, and neurotically organized by release date. Be sure to keep your genres separate enough and always remember to re-file your records when you take them out to play them.
The most important thing is that the collection is accessible to you and others, so always keep that in mind when organizing.
Now enjoy and go listen to some vinyl!