By M'Kenzy Cannon
Ever since I first started discovering and collecting music on my own, I have organized everything in a very specific way. My music library is a time capsule: a folder for every year, a subfolder for every month, and a sub-subfolder for every artist I listened to or discovered during that month (including more subfolders for their albums, singles, etc). When I began this habit of organization, I put absolutely no thought into it, and never dreamed of how it would impact the way I listen to music. It didn't occur to me that it was a somewhat odd method of playlist-making until much later, when scrolling through a friend's music and realizing that their system of organization was totally different than mine.
Recently, I've been giving a lot of thought to how we as individuals organize our music and what that says about our personalities and our relationships with the music we listen to. For me, music is the soundtrack behind the various eras of my life, and my library is an archive of each of those musical eras. I can look back, for example, and tell you exactly who I was listening to during the first month of my freshman year of high school (Lulu & The Lampshades, Fleet Foxes, The Naked and Famous are a few), or the time of year I discovered my love for LCD Soundsystem (November of 2013). Likewise, whenever I go back and listen to an album or an artist that I love, I associate them with the time of year I first fell in love with their music. I can't listen to Haim's first album without remembering what it felt like to hang out in the park in my hometown with a bunch of friends, talking and laughing while we watched the leaves change colors.
Not everyone chooses to organize their music library like I do. I have known people to create playlists for specific times of the day (a morning playlist, an afternoon playlist, a getting-ready-for-bed playlist, etc.) and times of the year (summer, fall, etc). My friends organize their music by mood or activity, with playlists for feeling sleepy or getting ready for a night out. Some even match their music to the weather, with playlists for snow, rain, sunshine, and everything in between! When traveling on a gap year before starting college, I met a fellow traveler who organized his albums based on what city he was in while he listened to them. You can even organize your albums by color, grouping all the red cover artwork together in one playlist and all the green ones in another. The possibilities are endless.
I think it would be fun and interesting to experiment with different methods of organizing my music library, to make playlists that break free of my month/year system. For now, it's simply an easy way to organize and archive my music that works for me. So far, this month's playlist includes Bridgitte Frontaine, Ani DiFranco, and Shakey Graves. Years from now, I'll be able to look back and know exactly what I was listening to my first semester of college.