I'm taking a bunch of posts to look at applying the 'next action' principal of GTD to songwriting. Let's look at managing audio files.
You and Media
So, rather than files and folders, your media player is where it all happens. But how does it happen?
Through a creative use of playlists, albums and titles.
Getting back to GTD terminology, your playlists function as 'next action lists' You can have any number of lists but the three basic ones are
Raw ideas that might turn into a song
Which is the playlist you might use to share songs with any interested party, or just play to yourself when you need reminding that you're not a talentless loser who can't finish a song
This is your work bench for the things you're working on right now
There doesn't seem quite the same need for a dead/completed audio playlist as a physical song folder as the sum total of all your hard work just sits there in your media player anonymous but searchable and sortable.
I said this system was a work in progress – a bug in the system is that whenever I've backed up data and wiped my hard drive the playlists are the things that never quite come back properly. Loosing track of which rough ideas are worth working on would be a big problem...any ideas?
Albums are your key filing system component. What you do is create a separate album for each song. Eventually this one 'album' will contain all the versions of your song from initial riffs through various drafts and alternative versions to all the different mixes and the finished track. The advantage (other than having everything in a handy bucket) is that if the song title changes you only have to rename the album (a simple move in WMP and iTunes) not all the individual tracks. For example the album for my recent song Brother contains tracks called CivilSatrianiZepHel (the original riff), Not About The Pigs (the original title/concept) and Brother (the finished song).
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