Welcome to Amplify Productivity. If you’re anything like me, then you’ll have thousands of samples and loops on your hard drives. I’m sure that they must be breeding as every time I think I’ve organised everything, hundreds more uncategorised samples appear. To streamline your music making it’s important to get a grip on your own sample collection. Here are some tips on how to calm the chaos…
MAKE IT PERSONAL
Everybody can have access to the same sample libraries that you do, but your needs are unique. Make sure that your sample collection reflects that. You don’t have to follow the herd when naming and sorting your samples, as long as it makes sense to you.
If you’re going to organise your sample collection manually this will be a time consuming process so make sure that you have the time and energy to commit to it. When organising samples, I initially sort my files into 3 broad categories. The first being sample libraries for specific players such as Kontakt and UVI. The second category for one-shot samples and the third for loops.
KEEP OR CULL
Some musicians will want to keep every single sample they’ve ever owned, just in case they come in handy. Others prefer to pick and choose the most useful ones and delete the rest. Neither of these options is wrong but being selective has a clear advantage of streamlining your collection and saving hard drive space. It’s easy to find which samples you’re using regularly by highlighting the contents of a folder and sorting by DATE LAST OPENED.
The most important idea behind organising your samples is that you can find what you need quickly by browsing through a single folder. Structure your folders so that the final one in the tree is the most useful for you to browse through, be that by instrument sub-type, key or genre.
Various sample library developers will have their own conventions for naming samples. You can choose to either keep the given names, totally rename the samples or a mixture of both, by adding your own prefixes to the files whilst keeping the original names intact somewhere in the file names. Rename hundreds of files simultaneously by using a batch processing renaming app such as File Rename Pro.
Over the last couple of years many companies have developed apps and DAW plugins that aim to automate the process of sample management and categorisation. This can include tagging, key and BPM. My personal favourite is the free Sample Manager from ADSR, however there are many others such as Audio Finder, Samplism, Basehead, Resonic and Sononym. I’ll also mention Loopcloud which organises your own sample collection and also allows preview and purchase of paid content from Loopmasters inside of your DAW. Which of these software solutions works best for you depends on your specific needs, but many of them are free and the rest have free trial periods so experiment with what matches your workflow.
Hopefully I’ve helped spark some ideas for sample sorting. Join me next time and thanks so much for watching.