Perhaps the most obvious way to organize your CD collection is by artist name, alphabetically. For each artist you can either arrange their albums alphabetically, or (my preference) chronologically. Soundtracks and compilations can be placed separately from artists or not, if one prefers. A CD rack with no individual CD slots really helps - no "taking your collection all out when you buy new stuff".

This may seem colossally anal retentive, but it makes it a lot easier to find what you want. Everything does "have its place", but it's not that hard to put something back where it came from. I only own about 75 CD's and I still find it helps.

Ignoring the obvious "MP3 it all and run queries on the id tags" method, which I'm sure will be covered elsewhere, I've come up with some workable systems. Both of them realate to abstract properties of the CD.

The Rainbow Method

The CD's are arranged in the order of their spine colour: Black-> White-> Red-> (rainbow)-> violet. This requires you only to know the colour of the box you want and you can jump right into the right part of the collection and pluck it out. The only problem is that non-rainbow colours (brown etc), and massively multicoloured spines are special cases.

The Mists of Time Method

This is my previous method. I've arranged them in order of either the date of composition or the copyright date. For compilations, I've listed them by the latest item. This works pretty well, since my CD's range from about 1550 - 1999, and so there's a good range. Of course they do bunch up a bit towards the end. So now to find a CD I just need to know roughy when it's from. This works fairly well.

Hybrid Cop-out

Now I've all the classical music in composer-death-date order as above and the other stuff in boring old alphabetical order. This seems to offer the best of both worlds.

The drawback to all these methods is that they require you to put everything back where you found it, and have a place for everything and everything in its place. These concepts are alien to right-thinking people everywhere.


pimephalis thinks that the above methods mark me out as some sort of Nick Hornby/High Fidelity/John Cusack figure. Hmmm.
Are you the kind of person that have CDs laying out all over your floor? Are you always stepping on one of them when you are in a hurry? Do you need some kind of way to organize your CD's? Fear not, for here come I with my brilliant solution. (Note: no, this is not an infomercial :)

What this "brilliant idea" is really all about, is printing out these small little paper stickers about 5x5 mm width with numbers on them, conveniently ranging from 1 to whatever arbitrary number of CD's in my collection. On each CD in my archive there is one of these small stickers at the back. Then, if I would like to get one of my records, I simply hook in the database of records I've created at my computer, or take a glance at the list sheet I've printed out. This is also very convenient if I think someone has stolen my records, as I can hunt them down and kill them take my record back.

With the database solution I can search for artist, album and song name (wow!), and with the less functional, but still valuable printed sheet solution, I can simply let my eyes slide down the the alphabetically sorted list of artists to find the album that I so desire to listen to. However, the database implementation I will not discuss in this writeup (maybe for the best of us all?).

The only, maybe minimal, drawback to this method is that i have to print out more of these damn stickers with numbers every fucking time I aquire a new record for my already too large collection.


CzarKhan says "man, I've had a d-base of my cd's for YEARS but I don't do the sticker thing"
Well, that's the beauty of it, you just search your way through the CD's placed in a row, and rapidly find the CD associated with that number.

Having tried alphabetical, chronological, and various other methods for organising my CDs, I have hit upon one which works for me.

You will probably think this more of a way of disorganising your collection, but bear with me.

When you have finished listening to a CD, put it back on the far right hand side of the collection, pushing all the others leftwards. (this, of course, only works if you keep your CDs on shelves)

Think about it.

  • In order to find a particular CD, you then merely have to remember how recently you listened to it.
  • To inspire yourself with "I haven't listened to that for ages" moments, merely look at the left hand end of the shelf.
  • There's no putting the CDs back in their places.
The perfect system for lazy people, those with geniunely chronological memories, and disaffected college students.

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