Tuesday, 24 May 2011

GTD For Songwriters (pt 6)

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

Song Starts
Raw ideas that might turn into a song

Best Of
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

Current 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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Other free songs by Matt Blick



  1. Media players generally have a "save playlist" feature, which will create a playlist file saved in a specific location on your computer rather than just stored internally in the media player.

    These are usually *.m3u files, which is the standard playlist format, and it will save file locations relative to where the .m3u file is saved, so when you backup you just need to remember to save all of your key playlists to the same folder as your music and it'll be there and functioning when you restore everything.

  2. Thanks for the help Peter - I'll try to remember to do that next time I back things up!


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