state of discogs 2020

The State of Discogs 2020: End-of-Year Report

This year has brought its fair share of challenges. At the beginning of 2020, we could not predict the global COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on small businesses. However, the data in the Discogs End-of-Year Report 2020 proves that music fans are resilient, active, and enthusiastic. The State of Discogs is looking good thanks to a thriving vinyl community.

Across the Marketplace and Database, our users have rallied during a difficult year. We’re excited to share our annual report, which dives into the numbers, trends, and music sales that made 2020 a record-breaking year.

Growth in global physical sales through the Discogs Marketplace is up 35.78% to 8,845,534 orders over the prior year. In total, 16,290,197 pieces of physical music were sold around the world, bringing an overall 40.12% increase year-over-year.

Discogs data confirms that the most popular physical music format sold in 2020 was vinyl. In fact, vinyl sales have once again crossed a landmark threshold: a stunning 11,961,998 records sold through the Discogs, up 40.75% from 2019. CDs have also increased 37.18% year-over-year with 3,441,769 compact discs purchased. Interest in cassettes hasn’t died down, with a total of 282,798 sold through the Marketplace, a 33.33% increase over 2019.

Throughout the year, Discogs users were very busy cataloging and estimating the value of their music collections. An astonishing 140,189,018 items were added to Collections in 2020, up 41.02% from 2019. We’re also excited about the 1,229,384 new users that logged in to Discogs for the first time, a 20.32% increase compared to 2019.

Within the Discogs End-of-Year Report 2020 you’ll find the most popular formats by sales, Database submissions by format, total orders in 2020 compared to 2019, and the most expensive items sold, as well as the best-selling releases and most-collected new, catalog, and master releases of the year.

We’ve also broken down the most-collected and best-selling releases of the five most popular genres in the Database: rock, electronic, pop, jazz, and funk/soul. These genres accounted for 81.24% of all releases added to user Collections.

Highlights of the Discogs End-of-Year Report 2020:

  • In 2020, Discogs saw an increase of 40.12% in items sold and 35.78% in total orders over 2019.
  • Vinyl saw a 40.75% increase in sales through the Marketplace compared to 2019, results in a total of 11,961,998 records sold in 2020. CDs (+37.18% to 3,441,769) and cassettes (+33.33% to 282,798) experienced similar growth.
  • 1,508,345 submissions were added to the Database, which is up 16.28% year-over-year. Vinyl releases encompass 35.99% of all submissions with a total of 542,983.
  • Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, The Beatles’ Abbey Road, and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band continue to be the top three most-collected Master Releases in 2020.
  • The most expensive vinyl record sold in 2020 was Scaramanga Silk’s Choose Your Weapon for an astonishing £30,000 ($41,095 USD). This release is now the most expensive record ever sold on Discogs.

Glossary of Common Discogs Terms:

  • Database: The heart of Discogs is our user-built Database, which is the most comprehensive archive of physical musical releases.
  • Marketplace: The Discogs Marketplace connects buyers and sellers across the globe. Because the Marketplace is built on top of the Database, it is easy for sellers to list their inventory and buyers are able to specify the exact version they want.
  • Genre: The genres included in the report are defined by the Database.
  • Release: Release is a broad term for any audio product that is made for general public consumption. This is the fundamental thing that Discogs catalogs. A work of music may have been released in 1970 on vinyl, reissued on CD in the 90s, or made available as a digital download in the 2000s. Each qualify as an individual release in the Database.
  • Master Release: A Master Release is similar to the concept of an album. This is how Discogs gathers two or more matching releases together.
  • Catalog: Catalog defines an item over 18 months since its original release.

Most Popular Formats by Sales

The Marketplace connects Buyers and Sellers across continents and physical formats. Music fans purchased far more vinyl than any other format, and a lot more physical music in 2020 than they did in 2019. However, we witnessed an increase in CD and cassette sales, too, demonstrating that both of these formats are still going strong.

2020 end of year report sales by format updated

Database Submissions by Format

The Database is the beating heart of Discogs. The site is built on the hard work of dedicated contributors who submit information about each piece of physical music, old and new. Since our Community is made up largely of record collectors, contributors naturally submit more details about vinyl releases (542,983 vinyl submissions in 2020), followed closely by CDs (417,237).

2020 end of year report database submissions by format

Total Orders 2020 v. 2019

If you haven’t noticed yet, the definitive trend of 2020 was “increases over 2019,” and that includes orders through Discogs. We processed 35.75% more orders in 2020, which brings us to a total of over 8.8 million (8,845,534, to be exact). Those orders translate to 16 million pieces of physical music going to fans across the globe.

2020 end of year report total orders 2020-2019

Most-Collected New Releases of 2020

Some of the best new releases of 2020 feature old music. Tom Petty, Joy Division, and The White Stripes gifted fans with amazing vinyl reissues, which make up the three most-collected records of the year. Rounding out the top five most-collected 2020 releases are special color variants of new drops from Run the Jewels and Idles. To see the top 50 most-collected new releases, head here.

Best-Selling Releases of 2020

Music fans around the world came to the Discogs Marketplace to purchase the following releases. There’s an interesting spread of newer drops, like the repressing of Billie Eilish’s coveted live set at Third Man Records and the reissue of Nujabes’ popular 2005 album. Even the oldest album on this list, David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, is a 2016 remastering on 180-gram vinyl of music that originally came out in 1972. For a complete list of the top 50 best-selling releases, head here.

Most Expensive Items Sold in 2020

Look at those price tags! While the vast majority of the items sold in the Marketplace go for reasonable prices, sometimes the value of vinyl or a box set can appreciate greatly over time. Usually, these records are rarities. The No. 1 item sold in 2020 is also the most expensive record ever sold on Discogs. All prices have been converted to USD (United States Dollar). To see the 50 most expensive items sold in 2020, specifically, head here.

Most-Collected Master Releases in 2020

Think of the Master Release as the actual album. Rather than track each specific release (the original vinyl, the CD version, the reissue, etc.), the chart of most-collected Master Releases proves the popularity of the classics. More people added these five albums to their Collection throughout 2020 than any other title.

Most-Collected Catalog Releases of 2020

A catalog release is an item that has been out for over 18 months. Unlike our chart of new releases above, this list shows us what older records the Discogs Community has been collecting, but we’re using the word “older” loosely. Some of these albums are class acts, like David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust, and others are modern classics, like Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.d City.

Genre Breakdown

If you’re a regular reader of Discogs’ data dives, then you’ll notice that we switched up the format a bit from previous years to make the 2020 report even more comprehensive and genre-inclusive. For the five most popular genres cataloged in the Database — rock, pop, electronic, jazz, and funk/soul — we’ve included a breakdown of the best-selling and most-collected releases.

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