Five library management tips – Serato DJ

Library management is an essential skill that can help elevate a DJ’s performance to the next level. Having a neat, well organised library will help you find songs quickly and can even inspire song choice you may have not considered before. Every DJ organises their libraries differently and it’s a very personal and unique process. Fortunately modern day DJ softwares offer us methods to customise our libraries to suit our individual needs. Today we take a look at Serato DJ and five top tips to help you organise your digital record collection.

Column Headers

Serato DJ offers DJ’s many different fields and categories to organise your music by, most of these are read from your music ID3 metadata. You can add or remove the columns that matter to you by right clicking on any of the column headers. The drop down menu will then show all the available fields with the already selected fields showing a tick next to them. You can change the information inside these fields by double clicking on them should the information be wrong. The available fields are:
  • Date Added
  • Album
  • Artist
  • Bit rate
  • BPM
  • Comment
  • Composer
  • Filename
  • Genre
  • Grouping
  • Key
  • Label
  • Length
  • Location
  • Plays
  • Remixer
  • Sampling Rate
  • Size
  • Track
  • Year
To organise a crate by a field simply click on a column header. You can click it again to change if it is ascending or descending. Crates based around history you can organise by the order the tracks were played in by sorting via the # column. This number sorting is also how you would order a crate via album track numbers. Once you’ve o

Smart Crates

Serato offers Smart Crates to automate your library. These are like regular crates in Serato but they automatically update to include songs that meet certain rules that you set. The smart crates will automatically update when you launch the software or you can force them to refresh to include any changes you may have just made.
The new smart crate icon is located next to the new crate icon to the upper left of your library.
To create a smart crate, first press the new Smart Crate icon found to the right of the usual new crate icon. The smart crate rules box will appear, press the new rule button in the lower left corner. From here you can chose from various parameters including: Added to library date, Album, Artist, BPM, Comment, Filename, Genre, Key, Label and Remixer. You can then choose the following inclusion / exclusion criteria: Contains, Is, Does not contain, Is not. Tick the Match all of the following Rules option so that tracks must match all the set rules to be added to the crate. If this option is not checked, any track which matches any of the rules will be added to the crate. Click Save to save your crate or Cancel to exit without saving.
Here we can see the rules of a new smart crate that will contain house music, that’s124bpm or faster and in the key of C.
If you want to change any smart crates you have made, click the Edit button (next to the add Smart Crate button) to edit the rules.

Locking Tracks

It’s very easy to change meta data of your tracks within Serato, as we’ve explained already you can update the data manually by double clicking in any of the fields inside the Serato library. However vital information such as the tracks key, bpm and beat grid can be analysed wrong, needing you to manually edit them. This is easy enough to do however if you ever reanalyse your library, you run the risk of this being over written by the software. This is where locking tracks comes in. Serato DJ offers you the ability to lock tracks within the library, disabling the ability to edit the key, bpm or beat grid. To lock a track simply find the track you wish to lock, hold control + click in the empty Status column (the first column in the main Library view). A Blue Lock icon will be now be visible next to the track. Press control + click again on this icon to unlock the track. To save time you can lock and unlock multiple tracks at once by highlighting them. If a track already displays a gold lock instead of a blue, then the no meta data can be edited at all. The file may be locked because you are using the wrong formatted hard drive such as a NTFS drive from on a Windows PC and trying to use on a Mac which can only read this information. Or it could be the file itself is locked to read only by your computer. To find out if a track is locked, highlight the track in Serato DJ, and press control + R to ‘reveal’ the file location on your hard drive. Then press either command + I (‘Get Info’ for Mac) or alt + enter (‘Properties’ for Windows). Then see if the track is Read Only, or that you have the permissions to write to the file.

Custom Crate Columns

A rather unknown trick of Serato’s library management is custom crate columns. This handy tool allows you to set an organisation rule for each of your individual crates. Serato will then remember how you want each crate organised, allowing you to dynamically manage your library and set rules that best suit the crates needs. There are various scenarios where a crate would suit a certain sorting. By enabling custom crate sorting we are given the freedom to organise crates to the best of our abilities rather than using one over riding rule for the whole library. For example a crate built from the history would be best organised by order played, to keep the order of the set in place. Alternatively a crate based around one genre of music might be best organised by Key and a crate full of A Capella’s sorted by by track title. Click here to read our guide on custom crate columns.

Secondary sorting on columns

Serato also allows DJ’s to secondary sort, this is helpful as it allows DJ’s to group songs together by one field and then sort them by another. A great use of this is to secondary sort by key and bpm. This allows the user to see all tracks that not only harmonically mix but that are similar speed, making better sounding mixes easier and quicker to plan. To do this hold CMD (Mac) or CNTRL (Windows) and click on a secondary column. You can delete this secondary sorting by holding SHIFT + CMD (Mac) or SHIFT + CNTRL (windows) and clicking on the secondary column header again.
Serato Library Organised By Key
A Serato library organised by BPM and key.

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Published: 21st November 2019

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