Greyhawks Digital Music Class – 4 – Genres

If you take nothing else away from my little music classes, at least pay attention to this one, as for me it makes all the difference. I truly believe that YOU need to decide how you classify your music in genres, and not let something like iTunes or the CDDB database decide. Let me explain…

When you rip a CD, the software goes to the internet and pulls the title of the songs, the artist, and the genre of the music. Sometimes those genres are spot on, sometimes they are laughably wrong and sometimes they don’t quite jive with how you think the music should be classified. So what you need to do is come up with all the ways that YOU classify music. Maybe you only think in Rock, Pop, Country and that’s all you listen to, and that’s fine. Maybe you are a big metalhead and want to divide things into Progressive, Thrash, Death etc. That’s the thing, you should classify music the way YOU think about music, and the way you’ll search for music in your library.

So here’s what I do. I have decided what I want my genres to be, and any time I rip a CD or buy some MP3s from Amazon, I change the genre on those files to match MY list of genres. I have quite a few different genres, but you can have however many or however few you want. Just do what makes sense to you. But stick with it, and make sure that every bit of music in your library falls into the buckets you’ve created.

For me, I sort into the following Genres:

  • Alternative: Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Gnarls Barkley, The Kooks
  • Alternative – Adult: John Mayer, Colbie Caillat, Gavin DeGraw, Jason Mraz
  • Alternative – Heavy: Korn, The White Stripes, Breaking Benjamin, Saigon Kick
  • Classic Rock: Beatles, Aerosmith, The Eagles, The Doors
  • Comedy: George Carlin, Jim Gaffigan, Patton Oswalt, Eddie Izzard
  • Country: Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Carrie Underwood, Alabama
  • Cover Song: Any song covered by a different artist
  • Hair Metal: Poison, Warrant, Great White, Faster Pussycat, Scorpions
  • Hip Hop/Rap: Beastie Boys, Kanye West, Akon, Lil’ Wayne, N.E.R.D.
  • Holiday: Any Christmas or other holiday tunes
  • Industrial: Nine Inch Nails, KMFDM, Nitzer Ebb, Ministry
  • Jazz & Blues: Buddy Guy, Louis Armstrong, Harry Connick Jr., Dave Grusin
  • Metal: Pantera, Slayer, Slipknot, Therapy?, Type O Negative
  • New Age & Classical: David Lanz, David Arkenstone, Kenny G., Kitaro
  • Pop: Britney Spears, Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, Natasha Bedingfield
  • Punk: Bad Religion, Bad Brains, Descendents, Black Flag, Ramones
  • R&B: Alicia Keys, John Legend, Barry White, Robin Thicke
  • Reggae: Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Burning Spear, UB40
  • Rock: Cowboy Mouth, Sammy Hagar, The Hives, The Cult
  • Soundtracks: Self Explanatory

So if you look, I have three variations on Alternative. So I can separate it out by which type of alternative I like, or I can create a playlist that includes anything that contains Alternative in the genre. I also have what’s not really a Genre per se in “Cover Songs” I collect a lot of cover songs, and they are mixed in pretty much all genres, so I wanted a quick way to find them. So, one of my genres is labelled Cover Songs. You could do the same for live tracks or accoustic songs or duets. It’s really up to you. You use your music library, so you should be the one that classifies what the music is to YOU.

Take John Mayer for example. Some would consider him Adult Alternative, some might say Soft Rock, some might say Pop, some might say Top 40. Which is right FOR YOU? That’s all that matters, and if you take control of your Genres, a lot of other things start to fall into place.

So, make that change now. Change the genres to what YOU think they should be. You’ll thank me later.