Replacing your mp3 Collection with Spotify Shortcuts

Did you know you can drag-and-drop an album or playlist from Spotify onto your desktop or into any folder?

Using this technique you can easily replace your mp3s with Spotify shortcuts. I did this at the weekend and now have a much more manageable music collection.

For the past decade or so, almost all my music listening has been through my PC. I use Windows Media Player as my main mp3 player. Instead of storing my mp3s in alphabetical artist folders (like iTunes), and since I don’t use genre tagging in my mp3s, I created a dozen or so high-level folders in the My Music folder based on genres I like:

Discotronic
Downtempo

Electronic / Synthpop

Hiphop / Dub / Reggae
Industrial / EBM / Futurepop

Pop / Funk

Retro

Rock / Indie / Punk

Soundtracks / Classical

Swing / Jazz / Folk / Trad

Trance / Psybient

Whenever I rip a CD or buy a download, I copy the mp3 files to an artist folder within a main genre (or sometimes a sub-genre folder). To date this has worked pretty well for me; most music I like fits into one of these genres.

Over the years, I’ve amassed a collection of about 120 GB of music. A lot of this music is now on Spotify. This has several advantages over my mp3 versions:

  • I can access from anywhere (home, work, laptop, friend’s house)
  • Sound quality is 320kbps, whereas my older mp3s are only 192kbs
  • It doesn’t take up any of my disk space (except for the cache)
  • I can easily (and legally) share new finds with friends

This weekend I decided to consolidate my music collection: I deleted all my local copies of albums that are on Spotify. Once complete, I’d reduced my mp3 collection from 113GB down to 73GB – I’d reclaimed 40GB of disk space and hopefully made my Windows Media Player load and run a little faster in the process.

If you fancy doing the same, here’s what to do:

1. Backup your mp3 collection

Unfortunately Spotify sometimes removes existing music from its database. This means that I cannot commit to Spotify completely, I must keep my mp3 backups just in case. Sometimes whole artist catalogues are removed, sometimes just an album or single, sometimes even tracks within albums are removed (see this Stone Roses album for example). So, until Spotify sort out this issue I recommend you make a backup of your music files or at least be sure not to ebay off all those CDs!

I have a second 500GB hard disk in my PC which acts as a backup disk in case my main C drive fails. I don’t bother with any fancy software to manage this, I just periodically copy across My Music and My Pictures.

2. For each artist in your mp3 collection:

  1. Search on Spotify.
  2. Delete the mp3 files for albums found.
  3. Drag-and-drop the album from Spotify into your mp3 folder. This creates an Internet Shortcut to the album.

So now my My Music subfolders have a combination of mp3s (for albums not on Spotify) and Spotify shortcuts:

This is a great way to save on storage space. For any artist, there’s no need to have shortcuts for all the releases: just pick one (e.g. your favourite album) as it’s an easy click to all the other releases on Spotify.

There are a few things missing from this solution though, primarily these Internet Shortcuts are still files stored on my local home PC. To manage my cloud-based albums and playlists requires an online solution: for that I use my web browser’s Bookmark Manager with a few extra add-ins. Full report coming soon! 

  • N.Anselmo

    Thanks, but it 'd be better if you could do it the other way, passing your mp3s to Spotify…

  • Studley

    Hehe, looks like I'm at almost exactly the same position of Spotify usage as you! I signed up for Premium at the weekend, and just last night I was thinking: "Actually, a fair portion of my MP3 collection is now completely redundant… what can I do about that?" – this looks great. And it auto-names the shortcuts too; it's almost like they actually thought of it 🙂 Top marks to Spotify!

  • Afront

    Thanks for your comments!

    Studley, any idea how much of your collection is on Spotify? I think I have a fairly broad musical taste but I've no idea whether my reduction by 35% is typical or not…

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  • Max

    spotifind might do the job for you: it’s free and Windows 7-only.

  • Owen

    Yep, I have deleted my entire MP3 collection. So last year… Spotify FTW

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