If you’ve ever thought:
- I had no idea Discogs was built by a contributor community!
- I want to learn more about the Database because I’ll probably discover some interesting stuff about my favorite music.
- I would love to contribute to Discogs but I don’t know how to.
- I have tried to contribute in the past, but I got told that I made a lot of mistakes then was completely turned off to the whole idea.
Then this guide is for you. Welcome to a basic overview of how Discogs is built by our users and how to contribute to the Database. We will focus on the process for new submissions but this will also be helpful for improving existing details about albums, artists, and labels.
Putting the right information in the right spot with the right formatting is mission-critical for all contributors. It’s time-consuming, difficult, and often requires input from multiple experts. But as with all things detail-oriented and challenging, it’s satisfying, valuable, and cements your place among our Community of tireless archivists.
If you’re a music fan, then you’ll no doubt agree that Discogs is a paradise — a paradise that only thrives because the Community has spent millions of hours over the past 20 years trying to make the Database comprehensive and accurate. Maintaining it requires us to follow strict guidelines so we can ensure information remains accessible, connected, and searchable. It’s incredibly rewarding, but it’s not that easy. If you’re ready to begin your adventure as a Discogs contributor, you’ll find instructions for taking your first steps below.
Who can contribute to Discogs?
Anyone with a Discogs account can contribute information to the Database. If you’re submitting a new Release (more on that in a bit), you must have a physical copy of that Release to reference. All new contributions are visible to anyone on Discogs the instant they’re created.
What can I contribute?
There are four main types of pages within the Database:
- Release. This refers to a piece of music with a specific format, year, and country. It can be anything from a 70-year-old 7-inch vinyl to a brand-new full-length CD.
- Master Release. This is an umbrella page that houses details about the piece of music and links to each Release. For example, the Master Release of Abbey Road includes the original 1969 LP from the UK all the way down to a 2019 limited-edition Japanese reissue on CD.
- Artist. This could be a vocalist, instrumentalist, band member, or entire band, as well as an engineer, supervisor, album cover artist, and other roles behind-the-scenes.
- Label. This includes individual pages for large label companies and subsidiaries.
And there are two major forms of contribution:
- Submitting a new Releases via the Add Release Form. New Artist and Label pages are automatically created when you add a Release page that identifies previously undocumented artists or labels. (Artist and Label pages cannot be added directly).
- Editing an existing Release, Artist, or Label pages via the Edit link in the top right-hand corner of every page.
However, you can also contribute by:
- Adding images to existing pages.
- Merging duplicate pages.
- Combining similar Releases under a Master Release.
How do I maintain the quality of information?
Anyone with a Discogs account can submit Releases or edit any existing page, but to keep the Database neat and usable, there are guidelines for how to record information about releases, artists, and label; for which information belongs in which field (hundreds of fields are needed to accommodate all the different information available about Releases); and for how to format each field entry.
To ensure adherence to the guidelines, new submissions and edits are voted on by other Discogs users. Not everyone can vote. The ability to vote is automatically assigned based on your interaction with Discogs: You need to log in reasonably regularly, view releases, read the guidelines, comment correctly on other submissions, and make accurate submissions and updates. Basically, voters must demonstrate that they are helpful and positive contributors. Contributions with no votes are flagged so that voters can provide feedback.
Let’s walk through your first submission.
Depending on the item, submitting a new Release to the Database can be complex. For your first submission, you should try something relatively simple like a CD or LP with a single artist and a small number of tracks. This way you can learn the process before moving on to complicated releases with many tracks by different artists.
Follow the submission guidelines. However, you don’t have to read them all before you start. Think of the guidelines as a cheat sheet — check them if you’re unsure of how to add the information or if another contributor says your info is incorrect.
Now, let’s walk through the basics:
- You must have a copy of the item in front of you if you are submitting a new Release.
- Check that your version has not already been entered into the Databases. The double-check, just to be sure. Duplicates are any archive’s worst nightmare — and a waste of your time!
- Only submit what you can prove with pictures. You don’t need to include photos in a submission, but if you can’t prove facts, your submission might receive negative feedback.
- Stick to the minimum required fields. It’s better to make a simple but correct submission than a complex submission with misinformation.
- If you get stuck, you can always ask for help in the Database Help Forum.
Where do I go from here?
Congratulations! You’ve made it this far. Now it’s time to try your hand at contributing to Discogs. For more detailed tips and tricks, continue your adventure with the quick-start guide below. It includes step-by-step instructions with pictures. We’ve also listed additional resources, as well as links to the guidelines, release form, and more mentioned above. Happy contributing!
- Quick-Start Guide for New Contributors
- Submission Guidelines for Releases
- Add Release Form
- How to Find Information on a Vinyl Record
- How to Find Information on a CD
- How to Find Information on a Cassette
- Tips for Faster and Easier Submissions
- Voting Guidelines
- Database Help Forum
S.P.IN, Discogs’ September Pledge Initiative, is in full swing. Found something missing in the Database but have no clue where to start with a new submission? Check out our S.P.IN hub for beginner guides, tips and tricks, and interviews with some of our top contributors.
This guide is maintained by Discogs staff. Original article by Simon Ray. Last updated by Nicole Raney in September 2020. Feature image by Samuel Regan-Asante.