As a producer/mixer, I get a lot of different session files sent to me. Some are nicely structured, but too many are all over the place. So hereâ€™s five quick and simple tips from my experience that can not only keep things organized, but help you find them months or even years later if you need a recall.
Create a master project folder
On my main hard drive, I create a folder for each individual project. For example, if my hard drive is called RT MAIN DRIVE, and Iâ€™m doing a show for ESPN, Iâ€™ll be able to click on RT MAIN DRIVE > ESPN and quickly find the project every time. I will often make that working folder Green (Control-click or right -click to label a file or folder on a Mac), so my eyes catch it immediately when opening each dayâ€™s work. Easy to do and a no brainer for organization.
Create individual song folders
Within each master project, I will create a folder for each song. Again, this lets me keep thing separated and easily organized visually. I will often make each song a different color depending on how far along I am with it. Yellow means in progress, Red always means Iâ€™m done with it â€" print it!
Create a Bounce or Print folder
Itâ€™s important to keep track of your final mixes of each song. I create a folder called â€˜Bouncesâ€™ for each song (since Iâ€™m in Pro Tools and the mixes are referred to as bounces). So when I first go to â€˜bounce to diskâ€™ on a project, I select Bounce, then â€˜New Folderâ€™ in the bottom left. I label it â€˜XXX Bouncesâ€™ and then every time I create a bounce for that session, it goes into that folder. Itâ€™s also important to put a version number on the bounce, any relevant info, and the date. For example, the song called â€œSpace Cakes V.2, vocal down -2 dB 10.20.12â€ â€" means the title is Space Cakes, itâ€™s the second version, I lowered the vocal 2 dB, and it was done on October 12, 2012. That way, when I go to look for the different mixes, Iâ€™ll always know exactly what they were, and where to find them (In the Bounce folder!).
Keep your loops and libraries on separate drives
I literally have thousands of loops, sound effects and samples. To keep track of them, I put them on different internal drives on my computer. This way, I know where they are at all times. Itâ€™s common sense, but keep them off your main DAW working drive. Also, any loops or samples I use, I make sure to import them into the current working session. That way, they will always be in the audio files folder â€" no matter where I travel with that session.
Backup, Backup, Backup
Back up to at least 2 extra drives: The old adage â€œif you donâ€™t have it on 3 drives, you donâ€™t have itâ€ is true. Make sure you back your project up nightly if possible. Even if you just drag it to an external FireWire drive, at least itâ€™s off the main computer. I back it up to a small pocket drive, and then to a main drive. The folders are labeled â€˜Project XXX BU (backup)â€ and dated. I will even go as far as to place labels or tape on the main backup drive letting me know whatâ€™s on there. Or you can take a screenshot of the contents and tape it directly to it. That way, youâ€™re not guessing what is on each of the drives. Itâ€™s simple â€" but it works.