I Bought the Same Record Twice: How I learned to avoid this by using Discogs to catalog my records (plus tips on how to catalog your own records)
Last year I was at Mills Records in Kansas City when the sales clerk who checked me out gave me the name of a website, Discogs, to help me find a Lianne La Havas record they no longer had in stock. Discogs is an online marketplace, and database, for music that connects you to a global network of retailers (and resellers) who offer nearly all physical music formats from all generations and genres of music. In short, if there’s a piece of music you want Discogs can help you find someone who’s selling it. After just recently digging into their website I learned that it has many other uses for music collectors like keeping a database of your music so you don’t purchase duplicate copies, which is something that happened to me earlier in the year.
Back in April I found myself in Kansas City again and saw a record by Chic that I loved and knew I had to get but I had the feeling that I already purchased it a few months earlier from Vintage Vinyl here in St. Louis. The fact that it would be a 400-mile trip back to the record store if I got home and realized that I didn't have it coupled with the $4.99 sticker price told me to take the chance and buy it just in case I didn't already own it. Low and behold when I got home I realized that I already had it and I ended up gifting the new copy to a friend since I couldn't return it. Going through my Dad's share of the records I noticed that he also faced this same dilemma and ended up with multiple copies of the same record.
A month ago that I finally got around to creating an account on Discogs when I was looking to make a purchase because with most companies you can’t enjoy the full benefits of their websites without creating an account. Previously, I visited the website last year when I first learned about it but didn’t take time to understand it beyond just searching for La Havas, only to find that the record was out of print and was going for $100 plus. You could say that I’ve been procrastinating on getting hip to Discogs for the past year, which is true, but it was a new need that arose this year which brought me back to it long enough to understand its power. After creating an account and then poking around on the site a bit I learned that there is a "Collection" feature which allows you to catalog all of your music so you have a single, consolidated, list of every piece of music you own.
When I found out that not only does Discogs offer this collection feature on their website but they also have a mobile app that allows you to access your collection on your phone inside record stores I felt like all my problems were solved! I am now able to keep a list with me of what records I already own and scroll through that list while shopping to avoid picking up duplicates by mistake again. Conveniently, they also have a “Wantlist” feature that allows you to keep track of what records you want so you know what to look for in a record store.
I’ve spent the past week building my Discogs collection by cataloging my records one by one which has been a time consuming process. I move meticulously through the records because not only does Discogs give you a field to input the records by title but you can also include the condition of the record and its cover, your personal rating of how much you like it, and personalized notes. I opted to fill out all of this information since I plan to pass on the collection to future generations because I knew it would be helpful to document as much information as possible about the records.
Here's the process that I've been using so far:
Step 1: Input the name of the record
The quickest way to do this is by typing in the album’s serial number (for example SD-5658) or using the app to scan the barcode on the back of the record to retrieve the record's details (year and country of release, format, etc) if one is present. In the rare case that neither of these methods works you can search for the album or artist manually.
Step 2: Record the condition
I take the time to pull each record out of its jacket to review it quality then give it a rating from poor to mint. I then do the same for the sleeve condition.
Step 3: Notes
I make it a habit to document which records I purchase in different cities or at concerts I've attended so here I'll list the city of purchase and/or the concert of purchase. I like capturing the unique stories of each record. I haven't gotten as specific as what record store they were purchased at but I'm considering it.
Step 4: Purchased by
I've created two categories in my collection list, one for my father and one for myself, so I can identify who made what purchases.
Step 5: Rating
Lastly, I give my personal rating of the records. Since I haven't listened to all of them yet this will encourage me to do so and also allow me to keep track of which ones I have or haven't heard yet.
Bonus Step 6: Value of collection
If you ever plan on selling your collection Discogs gives you an estimated dollar value of all the records you own. You’re given three estimates, the minimum, median, and max. This is not of any value to me since I don't plan to sell mine. However, it's nice to know how much money has gone into my collection.
If you want to know how I got started collecting records read my first post on record collecting here:
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