Of course, most people don’t have a few thousand Releases to submit, but if you have anything at all not yet on Discogs then September is the time to get it in.
For this year’s SPIN Campaign we’re trying to reach 150,000 Submissions in September, and to get as many new Asian, Latin American, Shellac, Cassette and 8-Track tape Releases submitted to the Database.
See the full details and all the leaderboards here
Let’s talk about bulk 7″s. This is the accumulation of purchases large and small that are either too common, strange, or beat up to sell. Doesn’t sound exactly exciting, does it? This, though, is the secret to my success! With S.P.IN just around the corner, this can help you fill in missing holes in the database and help build your reputation as a music archivist, collector, dealer, or just for fun. It’s my hope that by sharing my secrets, you too will be able to get a ton of new records (or CD’s, tapes, or whatever else you might find) to share with the world and not break the bank doing so.
Internet clout. I didn’t become the biggest Discogs contributor by only adding the records I wanted. I got here by adding anything and everything. Way back in my file sharing days (gasp!), I found a document on the virtues of file sharing that resonated with me. This idea is that you have something you don’t want, but, if you share it, it might benefit someone who does. Maybe you’re not into polkas. If you add that box of polka records, maybe a polka fan will feel like they do not need to do as much work when getting started. This could result in them adding something that interests you.
Discogs is a massive jigsaw puzzle in a kind of a way. There’s both a lot of duplicate pieces that show up everywhere and scarce pieces that do not. These lots often have those pieces, which may take decades to get entered otherwise. It may be true that the music is boring and out of vogue (or never in vogue in the first place). It might have stuff like engineers or recording studios that affect many other parts of the database, though.
I guess there’s also records, if you like those. Chances are, you’ll find something obscure that nobody’s heard of before. Those might give you a competitive edge as a DJ or a hot new loop for a track you’re working on. Even if the record is in terrible condition, you will at least be aware of it’s existence. The knowledge that you will pick up about records from working with bulk lots will give you an edge in future purchases. Note though, that this may be in the form of knowing what records not to buy.
What to expect?
Expect grossness. Chances are, a fair number of these records were stored in less than proper conditions and have a coating of mold, dust, or mystery goo. If you’re sensitive to these things, wear gloves and a dust mask. Expect Fair/Poor records that are unplayable and will need disposal. Expect duplicates, upwards of hundreds of copies of the same record. You should render at least 10% or more into interesting collection/sale items. A much larger percent will work out into submissions, edits, and images. Try and look a box over before purchasing to make a rough assessment.
How do you get them?
The first thing to do, is to find someone who has them. I recommend hanging around record fairs and asking dealers. Chances are, you will find someone who has a bunch of junk to offload. You might also want to try asking at record stores, creating a craigslist post, or local classifieds. I advise against purchasing outside your local area as shipping costs will escalate.
Once you’ve found someone willing to sell, you’ll need to agree on a price. If most of the records are sleeveless, try and aim below five cents a piece. I try to avoid paying more than ten cents a piece, but if it’s higher quality stock, negotiate.
After handing someone your wad of cash, comes transportation. If you are lucky, the dealer will deliver. If not, you will need to pick up locally. This may involve renting (or borrowing) a truck/van or making multiple trips, if the volume is huge. You will also need a place to store them, such as a spare room or storage facility. Factor these in before making any purchases as they may drive up your costs.
Okay I got them, now what?
Now the fun really begins! I usually sort the haul into a few different piles, but you might want to take a different approach. With this last batch I bought of about 4500 for $250. I sorted everything out that looked like it was already in the database and selected about 400. I wouldn’t sleeve the unsleeved ones unless you are collecting/selling them not in bulk. If you are selling in bulk, a lot of all sleeved records will sell for more than unsleeved ones. This may be because the value is for the sleeves. This also applies to cleaning or other refurbishment.
Once you’ve gotten everything subbed and processed, you should still have a large collection of bulk that you have extracted the fun out of. Unless you want to end up on an episode of Hoarders, you’ll want to have a method of disposing of what’s left. I don’t sell records anymore, so for me, this involves working with other dealers who I can trade with. For this lot, the more interesting stuff I added to the database will get traded with dealer A for higher quality stock. Dealer B traded me their not in DB for the Country 45’s. Dealer C will get the remaining several thousand 45’s in trade for their dregs. This process can repeat many times as long as you can find someone who wants to trade. All that’s needed is the initial seed payment.
This sounds very good and all, but, let’s see some results:
This time, I wrote down what I was doing on each submission so that I could better assess what the impact was. The lot I bought was fairly typical of what I see up here. As I cherry picked out anything that looked like it had contribution potential, it is fairly skewed towards my own preferences and ideals. I am also me and the person I bought this from has been one of my suppliers for over 10 years now. The possibility that I’ve contributed/edited many of the 7″s endemic to my area are pretty high. As you (likely) live elsewhere, you will have slightly different records to work with. That’s a great thing about records, though. Here’s how things broke down: (note: Some submissions have multiple genres and none-to-several styles. This is why the graph shows 560 genres and 506 styles for 424 records.)
Contributions by Genre
Contributions By Style
- 424 7″ records processed
- 102 new submissions
- 295 existing releases edited.
- 27 release pages that needed no additional updates
- 2 exact copies of records I’ve contributed before that came back!
- 455 images uploaded
- 175 correct votes given to other contributors
- 16 added to collection
- 3,768 active sales listings
- 7,212 collection entries
- 3,334 wantlist entries
So, this shows me that there’s a lot in the database already, but very little of that is completely contributed. That’s good! The world was wide open ten years ago. I used to fill in artist pages with dozens of releases per day. We were trying to make sense of the world through shotgun blasts of amateur archiving and getting tiny slivers of the big picture each time. We’ve made so much progress as a community building this massive cross-connected open discography database that we’re starting to see some of the big picture now. Together, you all can make much more of an impact than this example. Get out there and explore, learn, and discover. Future generations will thank you for it.