How Do You Organize Your Music?

Depending on how much music you have, I'm sure everyone organizes their music a little differently. Do you separate by genre, then alphabetize? Do you have a chronological system? Do you tab where the next letter starts?

I'm curious to know how people with huge music libraries catalogue their music. Digital music can be very easy to organize if you have accurate ID3 tags, but what do you do with your CDs and LPs?
I organize my CD's alaphabeticly by artist, then by chronological release.
Most classical is by first titled composer. Most popular music by performer, unless it's an homage or tribute to sole composer(s), then it's by composer(s).

Autobiographically of course! :)
Music goes on the shelves here organized into one of five major categories: Classical, Blues, Celtic, Jazz and Pop/Rock. Within each category LPs are sorted alphabetically (by composer for classical, by artist for jazz, folk, rock, blues, pop). Classical gets more complex due to the multiple composers who may be represented on a given LP; I generally choose by the composer whose work on that LP is most significant to me, sometimes by a category such as Renaissance Lute music. The ultimate tool is the PC database in which I've recorded each piece as acquired and which allows me to search/filter by composer, work, artist, genre, label, catalogue number, etc.
I've always wrestled with organizing music by genre. Record stores do this, but I often have artists whose work or particular albums cross genres. That's where it gets messy. Is Clapton "rock" or "blues"? Is Dylan "folk" or "rock"? Is Ry Cooder "world" or "blues" or "country"? I suppose one could do that an album-by-album basis, but that could be even more confusing. Even orchestral pieces can sometimes be quandaries. Should Bernstein's "West Side Story" be in "soundtracks" or "classical"? What about the operatic version? How about the London Symphony Orchestra playing Pink Floyd music?

Digital music players like WMP and iTunes certainly make things easier, but one still has to list an album by 'genre'. I've basically concluded that there's no one answer. Do what feels right to you. Even if that's "autobiographical" as Proghead referenced Rob from High Fidelity.
I find that my listening moods tend to be divide into four categories and this is how I have my music filed:
1. Female vocals (alphabetically)
2. Male vocals (alphabetically)
3. Non vocal (50's to 70's mainly Jazz/Blues alphabetically)
4. Non vocal (80's to today all other alphabetically)
By country of pressing, then alphabetically

But 50% are disorganized
a friend of mine back in the seventies did it this way, and i still enjoy the geographic origin of the artist...within that context, its then a through z.
1) Genre.
2) Alphabetically.
3) Chronologically.

I have a tough time sometimes because I have a LOT of electronic music and those guys are notorious for having many aliases. I usually lump all of their releases under the most popular alias. For example Richie Hawtin records under his own name, FUSE, Plastikman, From Within(with Pete Namlook), etc. but I file all of his stuff under Plastikman 'cuz that's his most popular act. I'd also put all solo releases from band members under the band --->Edgar Froese goes after all of my Tangerine Dream cds. Occasionally a solo release I have filed with the band gets their own place in the alphabet when they make it big themselves--->Feist gets moved from the end of Broken Social Scene and into the "F's" when she started doing iPod commercials. I'll also file comps with an artist if I primarily have it for the song they contributed. My system wouldn't make sense to most people if they just looked at the spines unless they really knew this type of music.
DVD Audio, Sacd Classical, Sacd (the rest), MFSL Gold, DCC Gold, Gold (the rest), Christmas, All remaining music in Alphabetical order--box sets included. I started collecting cds when they first came out, and, for better or worst, have accumulated over 15000 discs. Being a furniture builder, over the years I built large oak drawer units (40” wide, 24 inches deep, and 72 inches high, nine drawers each) to store them in. I also have 500 albums from my earlier days, which I built a cabinet for. My wife puts up with my music collecting, because she collects movies, which I built a 2000 dvd rack for. All of my music is kept in my den.
CDs alphabetically.
LPs by genre, then alphabetically within each group.
Overflow of new purchases and recent listenings, anybody's guess :-)
The classical is divided first among composers, meaning everything on the LP is by one composer.
Second, classicly by instrument, solo piano all by the same pianist, organ, oboe etc.
Third classical genre, orchestral or chamber or ballet when two or more composers
All vocals by name of group or individual
All opera singers by name
All opera by Composer's name
Soundtracks separate
Basically I'm a genre, then alphabetize, then chronologically "kind of guy".
I organize by how much I like the cd..Best up front .Worst at the end.........
i organize my music for maximum emotional impact; Saturday morning music, late night music, etc. i get into a certain mood and some music is always better than others at enhancing and complimenting that feeling. This helps find that next piece of music that keeps the the vibe steady.
You should have seen my sister in laws jaw hit the floor when i told her my 1500 or so cd's were sorted by emotion! Well, she asked....
I use orange CD catalog found here ------>>>>>>
If you have not already, read Nick Hornby's book, High Fidelity. The movie adaptation of that book is not bad either. The main character goes through some, well, issues around organizing his LP's. Great book! Jack Black is hilarious in the film.

Thomasedison beat me to the High Fidelity reference that proghead mentioned. Seriously though if anyone into records has not seen that movie they should be ashamed. Plus it was probably the last good movie John Cusack has starred in. He's been in some stinkers for almost 10 years now. And to all you classical collectors...just looking at the headache of how to organize those records does nothing to make me want to get into classical music any deeper. Most of the classical titles I have are filed under Reich, Stockhausen, Satie, Varese, etc.
As I'm disorganized the best system for me is a simple one. I have one of those IKEA cubed wall units where each cube represents a letter of the alphabet. The key to making this work is NOT to organize alphabetically within each letter as it's way easier to put albums back on the shelf at the end instead of trying to find the exact spot.

This sometimes forces me to browse through sixty or seventy albums to find the one I want, but during the process I often see and take out another old album that I haven't played for years.
This is a fine question.
Thanks, Mariasplunge.

I personally don't have a huge music library yet, but I'm trying to set myself up for success by starting on the right foot. Right now I have the records that I've cleaned so far organized alphabetically by artist, then alphabetically by album. The records that still need to be cleaned (hundreds and hundreds...) are loosely organized by importance of getting cleaned. I constantly have an "on deck" section, and I'll pick whatever strikes my mood from that pile to clean.

CDs are alphabetical by artist, and CDs with more than one artist are filed by the artist that I like more.

I use the 'collectze' software. Each disk gets assigned a number when it is cataloged. I have pre printed numbers on 'dot' lables. Dot lable goes on the disk case. All the disks are shevled in numberical order by number assigned. this way I sort the data base, not the disks. When I pass the 500 mark in each thousand, I print the list. Data base is bakced up to flash drives. The software lets you sort every which way, including all the song titles. wonderful!
Does anyone use color-coding by album cover?
LP's - alphabetically - separate section for classical
CD's - alphabetically - separate section for classical
Cassettes - prerecorded ones by color of the case and home made ones by type of tape
8 tracks - are only for posterity
Great question! I have built an 8000+ LP collection over 30 years, and I have only 2 sections: Comedy and everything else. No joke. I have tried to get all the artists together, i.e. the Fleetwood Macs, Stones, George Harrisons LPs, etc all together, and one label, Blue Notes' all together, but I never had time to do it more orderly as it grew and grew. I know where a particular record is by sheer memory - a mental map of my collection gets me to my favorite record or one a friend might need. I know it sounds insaine, but it is what time permits given the overwhelming volume. Thought I'd share this w/ everyone.
Weird Experiment: Currently my stuff is organized by record label, makes sense if your stuff is mostly jazz or classical:

ECM, bluenote, verve, reprise, DG, London, etc... I used to work at a record store where the classical was arranged by label and catalog number - you haad to get the Schwann catalog to find anything - pretty lame actually.

I'll probably change back to genra/artist some day. Actually now that everything is ripped to the mac/appleTV box, it doesn't matter. I don't touch the CDs anymore.
Jazz CDs are alphabetical, pop/rock and clasical are localized in specific drawers, but thats it. This of course drives my wife insane because she knows neither the names of the artists or what genre they are in so she can find nothing.

Vinyl has no organization whatsoever, except that the things I listen to a lot always wind up on the right and the stuff I don't listen to all that often ends up on the left. In other words 'chaotic'.
My OCD (self-diagnosed) is cause for deep consternation in this area. I want to sort by genre, alpha, then chron, but each has it's own dilemma. For example ...
GENRE: Muddy is Blues, but how about Fleetwod Mac with Green? And then what if I have Fleetwood Mac without Green?
ALPHA: Reverend Horton Heat, none of which is his real name, so sort under Rev.? Horton? Heat? Heath (Jim, actual name)?
CHRON: Recorded or realeased date - could span years? Collections - again, could span years?
I don't - every CD is available using a search function from listening chair...nothing is ever more than a "click" away.
Used to be alphabetical. After we moved into our new home, they just got placed in the cabinets to make space available to move around in. They're rather mixed up, but I know where the records are, and where the Cd's are. I'm actually starting to remember where most of the artists are in the cabinets. Should get organized, though...
CDs & 4-Track alphabetically, records partly by label
Bibliomantically. Subsequent to listening, I toss each record like a yarrow stick and place it in whichever of my eight different piles it lands nearest. Naturally, each record is, itself, determined to be in one of eight different categories, according to whether its yin and yang are old, new, or some combination of the two.
Then, through divination achieved by scrutinizing this new configuration, I determine what to listen to, next.
Of course it takes years of training before one can do this, properly. Best to adopt Confucius' dictum and not adopt this technique until one's later years.
I hope this helps.
Non-classical and classical separately. Non-classical by artist. Classical by composer except for compilations that are organized by performer. A few separate sections: sound tracks, individual audiophile labels, etc.
Interesting question. For the reasons stated above, I now organize strictly alphabetically (it can be difficult to classify some artists/albums by genre as they do tend to overlap).

That said, and notwithstanding some of the interesting ways of organizing albums that have been listed here (e.g. geographically, best to worst, etc.), I have a friend who organizes his albums (about 2000 of them) chronologically, not by the year the album was released, but by the year and date the album was purchase. So, the first album was his first purchase and the last album his last purchase. How he can keep a road map of this in his head boggles my mind.