Guest Column – How Discogs organised the world's record collection

Guest Column – How Discogs organised the world's record collection
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discogs-logoStarted as a way to keep track of your records, before involving into a community, marketplace and more, Discogs.com has been a cornerstone in the vinyl revival. With a app version just launched, founder, CEO and the man with the initial record collection on the site Kevin Lewandowski explains how his little project has become the reference point for the record collections the world over in a guest column for Q.

I remember the genesis of the site. It was a short email to my colleagues that read “Hi, all. I’ve been working on a discography/database site for a while and I’d like to get your feedback. The site is: http://www.discogs.com,” I wrote, actually using the hypertext prefix because we did back then. “If you have time to check it out let me know what you think. Thanks.” That was it, Halloween night, 15 years ago. It featured just 250 of my own collection of vinyl and CDs, all loaded up on a scrap Pentium II server I kept in my closet. I suppose that’s how most of these retrospective pieces start, but they’re clichés for a reason.

From 250 friends, it has multiplied by a thousand community-built collectors, and it’s gone beyond just my drum'n'bass and techno collection. Thanks to what I consider the best community on the web, we have nearly seven million releases in the Discogs database; a database I plan to keep free and hope outlives myself and other generations as we move towards the goal of cataloging every single piece of physical music ever created.

What I’m probably most proud of is how we listen to our community. They wanted a marketplace? We made that our priority. They wanted an app? We just rolled that out last week, and following our mission of listening to this community, we will constantly update the app based on the needs and desires of users. Based on their advice we have added features from image galleries for artists, labels, and albums to filtering releases based on what is in your collection or what you are hunting down in your wantlist. It’s continually evolving, we’re also looking into adding the Discogs inbox, Vinylhub integration, and even a reverse image search for album covers based directly off their feedback.

See, the thing about a community is that it’s different from a network. A network is like your Facebook group; you cherrypick who you want to live in your circle, and it validates you, but it doesn’t make you grow as easily. A web community, much like a neighborhood community, is made up of people you do not pluck from a roster, and the only way to make order out of it is to communicate and demonstrate democratic growth, which I believe we have done and will continue to do with Discogs in the future.

That future holds a wide range of possibilities and intentions, like our turntable database (known as Gearogs) and just like I did 15 years ago, I got the whole thing going by listing my own turntable and promoted it with a simple email. “If you have time to check it out let me know what you think. Thanks.” Kevin Lewandowski @discogs

Head to Discogs.com for more.