Is file naming the most boring, uncreative topic?
But based on my experience there is a need for this post. Some thoughtfulness and organization goes a long way when it comes to sharing audio files.
As a music producer and session guitarist, it’s all too common that I will receive tracks from an artist with labels like:
Names like these are unclear, difficult to organize, and can really eat up time. Luckily there is a better way!
The better way:
In order, here are the five parts of a clear file name:
- Instrument name first
This makes it really easy to scan for in a folder or DAW. Something to add here is that it is helpful to have some clear abbreviations for common instruments. For instance, abbreviate Acoustic Guitar to Ac. GTR, Electric Guitar to E. GTR, Vocals to Vox, and Background Vocals to BGV.
- Number or name the part
If you send three different vocal parts, give them clear names like VOX1, VOX3, VOX3 or distinguish based on song section (such as VOX_Verse, VOX_Bridge, VOX_Chorus) or part (such as BGV_High, BGV_Low)
- Microphone used
Note the microphone model. It’s crucial if using multiple microphones. It’s also helpful info for a producer/mixing engineer.
- Song Name
Next comes the song name. No spaces necessary.
- Number the take (versioning)
This versioning system works well for keeping takes organized and is one of the most important parts of the system.
Say for example that you are doing four takes that are all fairly similar. Number these takes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4 etc
If you do another set of four takes that are different from the first set (new approach, different day etc), call these 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 2.4 etc
This also works great for saving productions, songs, scores, mixes etc.
If you only do one other thing than the part name, do this.
Having a good system to name your files will make sharing and collaboration easy and efficient. This system works for me, but feel free to adapt this to your needs and situation.