Organization

How to Organize all Your Songwriting Related Files

organization tips for songwriters | getting your folders all set up

Creatives tend to be pretty messy people.

Oh wait, hold up, it’s cause we’re geniuses.

But as you start to collect more and more songs, it quickly becomes a giant p.i.t.a. to keep everything organized. Finishes lyrics, half written lyrics, ideas, hooks, worktapes, song sketches, cowriters information, how the heck does anyone keep all this stuff straight?!

With systems. That’s how, girlfriend.

I’ll be the first person to admit that I am not a naturally organized person. Some girls are just gifted – they have every paper they’ve ever gotten in the mail all filed away in gorgeous gold foil polka-dot desk organizers with matching pencils and calculators. And I love them. And secretly hate them a little. But mostly I just wish I had my life together like they look like do. So I’ve forced myself to become organized out of necessity (and maybe vanity).

But really, nothing makes me feel like more of a “professional” when I have all my song files nice and shuffled away into their respective homes on my computer. Here’s how I get myself set up:

First level: Catalog, Legal Documents, and Finished Demos

Wherever you keep your music, give yourself at least 3 main folders:

  1. Catalog Folder – Where you put all your songs and their files
  2. Legal Documents – Single song contracts, agreements, etc.
  3. Finished Demos – Finalized recordings and lyric sheets for songs you plan to pitch. If you’re an artist, this could be your discography or albums folder.

Let’s dive into the Catalog folder:

Catalog > Writers

The first level in my folder structure is: who wrote it? I have a folder for each cowriter or pair of cowriters. For all my solo stuff, I have a folder called “Solo writes.” Now, this works well for me because I’m usually writing with no more than 2 other people at a time. If you have about 5 other writers on a song, this might not be a good first level for you. But generally, I like having my cowriters as the first level because I can usually remember my cowriter before I can remember the exact, searchable name of the song. It’s super easy to cmd+space and look up your cowriter’s name.

Catalog > Writers > Song titles.

Once you click into a writer’s folder, you’ll see folders for each song we’ve written. Bam! Easy enough, right? You can sort it alphabetically or by creation date.

Catalog > Writers > Song Titles > Files.

Inside the song folder, throw every file that has anything to do with your song, except legal documents. This is where you’ll want to put your finished, formatted lyric sheet with all your co-writer info in the header (wanna know how I set up my finished lyric sheets? Check out this post). You’ll put your worktape in here from the day of the write. You can also store any split sheets you might have, and the finished demo in this folder.

Legal Documents Folder:

Drop in all signed documents! Easy enough. In my case, there are all PDF’s that have their final dates and signatures on them. If I sign documents digitally through an online app of some sort, I always download a copy and save it in here.

Finished Demos Folder:

This is where I pop all my shiny demos and finalized lyric sheets. I pitch songs to artists for them to consider recording, so it’s super convenient to have a folder with all my finished, pitch-able materials in it. If you’re not pitching songs, you may decided this folder isn’t necessary. Alternatively, if you’re a artist or a performing songwriter, you might choose to put finished copies of every album in your discography in here.

Overall, the folder structure looks a bit like this:

  • Catalog
    • Cowriter Name
      • Song Title
        • Song-title-worktape.mp3
        • Song-title-demo.wav
        • Song-title-lyrics.doc
      • Song Title
        • Song-title-worktape.mp3
        • Song-title-lyrics.doc
    • Cowriter Name
      • Song Title
        • Song-title-worktape.mp3
        • Song-title-lyrics.doc
    • Solo Writes
      • Song Title
        • Song-title-worktape.mp3
        • Song-title-demo.wav
        • Song-title-lyrics.doc
      • Song Title
        • Song-title-worktape.mp3
        • Song-title-lyrics.doc
  • Legal Documents
    • Pdf
    • Pdf
    • Pdf
  • Finished Demos
    • Song Title
      • Song-title-demo.mp3
      • Song-title-lyrics.doc
    • Song Title
      • Song-title-demo.mp3
      • Song-title-lyrics.doc

 

But what about hooks, ideas, and other miscellaneous files?

For hooks, I keep a running “hook book” elsewhere, in a list app called Wunderlist. For ideas and other Misc files, you can keep them in a notebook or wherever it’s easiest to catch ideas as they come to you!

 

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