Discogs & Ebay
Like many vinyl collectors, over the years I’ve used the Discogs website to get information about pressing history. Although Discogs does give information on prices of the items I search for, I prefer to use eBay “sold” listings to value albums, unless the album is very rare, in which case eBay possibly won’t have any recent sales. In addition, eBay listings are often quite generic, and omit important pressing information which can dramatically affect value.
I rarely take any notice of current item prices, unless it’s an auction and there are already bids on an item. People can ask any price they want for an album, but, much like property and car sales, it’s only when the item actually sells that the true value is established.
The Discogs App
Unlike eBay, Discogs reliably provides very detailed information on pressings and issues, and offers an excellent system for cataloguing your collection. It will find releases by title and artist, catalogue number, bar code (where present), and by matrix number. Entering any of these pieces of information into Discogs search field will bring up a lot of data and images of the various pressings, release dates, whether it’s a reissue, where it was stamped, and so on.
If you want to use Discogs to keep an inventory of your collection, simply create a free account and start adding items you own to your Discogs collection. You can even use Discogs to store a list of items you’d like to own. Discogs will give you a general value estimate. If you really want a bit more accuracy with the worth of your collection, you need to dig deeper into the issue details to locate the specific pressing you own (or want). Discogs’ search engine is truly excellent for this purpose.
Cataloguing My Collection
I set out to catalogue my entire collection a few weeks ago. So far, I’ve only added around 270 albums. If you want a good indication of what an item is worth, you need to spend a few minutes to make sure you accurately match issue and pressing information. It isn’t a quick process.
I find the fastest way to catalogue properly is to enter the matrix information in the run-out area or “dead wax” of each record I am adding via Discogs. This certainly gives a more accurate result immediately, but by also viewing data on the covers and liners, I discovered that some of my vinyl does not match the cover in terms of issue origin or date.
This can happen when people own two copies of a record. If the vinyl of one copy is in better condition than the other, but has more beaten up cover or liner, they match up the better vinyl with the better condition cover and create a “better condition” hybrid. This devalues the set, of course.
Since, typically, my records tend to be from the 60’s, 70’s or, less often, the 80’s, I’m dealing with objects that have been at risk for mixing and mismatching of this type for a long time.
As I’ve already said, don’t expect to catalogue a large vinyl collection in a few hours. Only adding 270 albums has already taken several hours, I generally add 10 to 20 at a time, at around 3-5 minutes per album. Some take much longer. If you are a compulsive collector, in some weeks you may buy more albums than you can list. In that case, the initial cataloguing process will take a very long time.
Album Condition Value
So far, I haven’t taken the extra time to rate the condition of every album. I know I should be doing this, but that is not exactly going to help me to get all my collection up onto the site any faster, so it will have to be a future project.
I’ve decided to rate the condition of albums as and when I play them, because I can be accurate using Goldmine ratings and play-rating. Once the whole collection is listed, accurately describing the odd new addition will be a manageable task.
After I have all my 2,000-odd vinyl albums and a much smaller number of 45 rpm 7-inch singles catalogued, I’ll start to add my pre-recorded cassette tape collection and finally my CD collection, neither of which are of insignificant size, but run into hundreds, rather than thousands.
Given that the cataloging of albums is something I have to fit in with the remainder of something called “day-to-day life”, I estimate that I will be on top of my full collection, complete with condition ratings, in about 4-5 years from now (no kidding).
In the meantime, the risk remains of buying duplicates of albums I’ve forgotten I already own. That’s a waste of money, because most of us would choose to buy something we don’t own than something we do.
The App Goes With You
I have the Discogs App on my Android phone, my iPad Air 2 and on my MacBook Pro. On any of these, the collection is updated whenever I log in to my free Discogs account, so it’s easy to synchronise my collection according to the device I’m using. Generally, that means my phone, which I can easily use at record fairs, yard sales or record stores.
The value and other details of the item in my collection require internet access, but even without it, the App provides a simple illustrated list (with the cover shown as a thumbnail – see pic above), which is enough to at least tell me whether I already own a copy of the LP I’m about to spend (i.e., waste) money on. I’d say Discogs is definitely a money-saving tool for anyone with a big collection, a bad memory, or both!
What is Your Collection Worth?
The App should be handy for estimating the value of your collection for insurance purposes. The difficulty is that there’s nothing to stop anyone adding items to their Discogs collection they do not actually own, so the collection is not proof of possession; I think that’s something that needs to be discussed with an insurance agent as they may require independent verification and valuation of a collection.
Discogs has a pretty immense database, but it’s not perfect. I’ve already added an issue on an album that wasn’t on the database. This is a somewhat tedious process, and the moderators for new entries are quick to point out if you don’t strictly follow procedures. Since the procedures are not clearly described or explained, be prepared for an administrative slap on the wrist (which I got, on my one and only add so far)!
I guess people learn to add correctly by trial and error, but Discogs needs to re-think its additions process to make it reliable and more user-friendly.
I’m giving Discogs a rating of 9/10, because the way things stand, it’s ubdoubtedly the most complete database out there for vintage music collectors, but it loses a mark for being picky when it comes to adding a new item to the database. Nevertheless, all in all, Discogs is highly recommended to every vinyl, tape or CD collector.
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