I’d like to share an observation about the 2017 year-end report. As a forewarning, I am a heavy Database contributor. I would not consider myself an expert statistician. I encourage you to draw your own conclusions and rebut mine. When I wrote the script that queried the data for the Database 2017 Discogs end of the year report, I was intrigued by the number of contributions by format. The number of records (specifically shellac and vinyl) contributed to the Discogs Database dropped in comparison to other formats.
What does this mean? I don’t know. I do have a few theories though. There is a very large but finite number of phonographic recordings on the planet. There is a much smaller, but also still very large number of unique contributable submissions. Of course, there are a large number of new releases coming out all the time. The number of old releases that are new to the Database can only dwindle over time. Are vintage not-in-DB items drying up?
Yes and no. The Database hasn’t grown evenly. Pretty much gone are the days when top 40 records were scarce in the Database. It’s been pretty difficult to find electronic dance music 12″s not in the Database for years now. Most average Collections are unlikely to contain not-in-Database records these days. But, my inbox has no shortage of people looking for help contributing. My back room is still overflowing with work to not yet done. To top that off, we’ve only scratched the surface of non-North American/European records.
While this format did not thrive in 2017, other formats seemed to fill in the effort vacuum. No thanks to my efforts, tapes are more popular than ever, as are CDs. A good friend of mine and large-scale dealer has ensured me that they’re selling more CDs than ever. I still haven’t seen much of this supposed revival in person. Thrift stores across the country are full of CD versions of classic titles. These usually sell online for a tenth of the price of their vinyl equivalents. Too bad most thrift stores price CDs about three times as high as tapes and records though.
My experience is that most core-Collection records are likely already contributed. This could affect people adding their Collections or listing items for sale. They are spending efforts where the Database needs more work. I find myself doing more edits and adding images than adding new submissions. There are so many hours in a day. I’d rather be adding new records, but there are other submissions that need my attention. How we interact with contributing changes as the Database does. Adding vinyl records alone is not the only way you can make a notable impact.
People with deep Collections of obscure genres can make themselves known here. Some record labels catered to hardcore collector markets exclusively. As a result, these generally don’t see the light of day. Do you have an extensive Collection that seems like an uphill battle to get entered? Do you have a theory about why the numbers look as they do? Let us know in the comments below!