discogs list records online

A Beginner’s Guide to Buying Records Online Through Discogs

The Discogs Marketplace can be a bit overwhelming to a newcomer looking to expand their collection. For example, you might be wondering why there are literally 1,000 different variations of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Well, you can find the most straightforward answer in our mission statement: Discogs aims “to build the biggest and most comprehensive music database and marketplace.”

Thanks to our user-built and -powered Database and the Marketplace’s vast scope, you have every and any physical musical release you could ever want. Think of Discogs as more of a town square for seasoned collectors and newcomers alike. While things aren’t quite as simple as a one-click purchase, I promise that your persistence will pay off once you drop the needle on your newly arrived record.

Here are a few tips that will get you up to speed and enjoying the myriad of choices available on Discogs.

Know Your Media Conditions

Discogs uses the Goldmine Standard for determining the condition of an item. Here is a complete guide.

If you’re only in the market for new records, Mint (M) and Near Mint (NM) graded records are your safest bet; these are usually unsoiled by the human touch. The difference is that Mint records are completely sealed, and therefore they have not been checked for any manufacturing defects. Near Mint records can be listed as “unsealed/open but unplayed” or “played only once,” meaning the record has been checked for any visual or audio defects.

Things are a little trickier when it comes to Very Good (VG) and Very Good Plus (VG+) because every Seller has their take on the two gradings’ differences. If you’re in the market for used or older variations of albums (more on variations below), you’ll probably run into a lot of these gradings. Anything lower than VG? Proceed with caution! It’s wise to check the listing’s comments and Seller’s feedback rating before purchasing under all of these circumstances.

Feedback, Shipping, and Descriptions.

Below is an excellent example of a complete listing (with seller name removed for privacy). We usually check three things before adding an item to cart: the Seller’s feedback rating, Seller Terms, and the item description for the listing.

item marketplace listing

Feedback: For feedback, generally, anything over 97% is decent. Not to say you can’t trust anyone with a lower rating, but we would take the time to read the feedback and look for any red flags.

Shipping: Hopefully, any shipping questions can be answered in their shipping rates and Seller Terms, which can be accessed by clicking the blue “Shipping” link. Don’t be afraid to message the Seller if you need any clarification. Many sellers welcome these interactions, so message away!

Descriptions: Item descriptions are particularly useful for used items. Many Sellers will note if the album has any scratches or scuffs (superficial or otherwise) or if the sleeve is damaged with ring wear or bent corners.

Wantlists and Items I Want

The Wantlist feature on Discogs allows you to keep track of the releases you don’t have yet but would like to own. Something to keep in mind is that your Wantlist can be used for more than just keeping track of whatever random album catches your attention. There are a handful of ways that your Wantlist can help you find whatever you’re looking for at the moment and maybe inspire some new listens and purchases.

Firstly, don’t sleep on the Items I Want feature, located in the Marketplace dropdown menu. This feature collects every single variation of every item in your Wantlist that is currently for sale. With the considerable amount of items listed for sale every day, you can refresh and continually find new items for sale if your Wantlist is large enough. On the other hand, using this tool with a smaller Wantlist can yield quick and recently listed results.

items i want message

Once something catches your eye, and you add it to your cart, check out the Seller’s full inventory of items you want before completing your purchase by clicking “Has X more items I want.” Even if you aren’t necessarily looking for an additional record, you could get a better deal on shipping as many sellers offer discounted rates for orders over a certain value or threshold of items bought.

You can view any free shipping discounts at the top of the Seller’s “For Sale” page, right under the main Discogs menu. If the Seller is offering a shipping discount, we’ll usually take a quick scroll through their inventory in case there is something that might not be in my Wantlist. You’ll also have another reminder of any shipping-related discounts when you view your cart. Getting two or more records at once will save you money and your Seller time. Your ears — and wallet — will be thanking you.

seller profile free shipping

Quick tip: Sort your Items I Want by “Listed Oldest” and then filter by “Make an Offer.” You may find a Seller willing to give you a discount to get rid of old stock.

Filter Variations

Learning about the differences between variations of the same release is your first step towards finding your most ideal version for the right price. Note how we said your ideal. What may be an ideal copy to you may not be to someone else. That’s part of the fun of collecting.

Variations are also essential to know if you’re looking for unique or specific copies — say, a pressing from a specific mastering plant (common amongst records from the 1950s to ’70s) or a particular country (many collect Japanese records for their OBI strips).

For example, let’s take David Bowie’s classic, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, our best-selling rock release in 2020. As of writing, there are 2100-plus copies for sale with 371 different variations of this album on nearly every major format with loads of represses, reissues, and country-specific releases. In this case, using filters will save you time and, potentially, money.

You can separate listings by condition, format, and price through filters to find exactly what you’re looking for. Keep in mind that when you’re sorting by condition, it will only include the exact condition you put in the filter; for example, when filtering by VG, your results will only be VG and will not include the higher VG+ and Mint listings. If you want to see all of the conditions available, use sort by “Condition (M-P).”

Our most-used filter? The “Ships From…” filter. With the current state of domestic and international shipping up in the air, we’ve been sticking to domestic Sellers to get the fastest and cheapest shipping options. It’s not always ideal, and we don’t recommend entirely ignoring international sellers, but this approach can reduce your chance of running into any shipping issues or delays.

Of course, you might not always be as lucky as to find a Seller in your country. If that’s the case, don’t forget to check Seller feedback and notes. Filtering by currency will help you avoid any currency exchange rates. You can also message any potential Sellers and check with them regarding their stance on international shipping.

Quick tip: Read the comments and reviews located at the bottom of a Release page. The Discogs Community can point you in the right direction in terms of the best-sounding and best-priced variants.

Communication, Payments, and Leaving Feedback

Our last bit of advice is to be friendly and communicate! Don’t forget that you’re buying directly from another person (sometimes a brick-and-mortar record store) and not a massive, faceless company. Even a simple “thank you” once you receive your shipping notification is a valued gesture.

When you finally decide to place your order, be sure to pay for your order in a reasonable amount of time. Payments are not automatically processed, so it’s an easy step to miss. Your order will be complete once you receive a notification stating that your payment has been processed. Here’s what that looks like if you’re using the mobile app:

purchase confirmation

Just remember that the quicker you pay, the quicker you’ll get your record. If you’re unsure if you want to purchase something, it’s better to remove it from your cart than to lead a seller on by purchasing without payment.

When it comes to feedback, honest and timely commentary is recommended. You can easily see what orders you have yet to leave feedback for by going to the Marketplace dropdown, selecting purchases, and then “Purchases Awaiting Feedback.” As noted on the feedback page, please communicate with the Seller to resolve any problems before leaving feedback. Feedback can make or break a Seller, especially one that is newer and less established, so be honest and thoughtful. As a Buyer, you have feedback as well. Something to keep in mind!

Now that you’re armed with all the information you need to become a Discogs power-buyer, go and fill your Collection with your favorite music.

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