Quick Guide: Finding Unarchived Releases

SPIN 2019 has started. In the name of archiving and preserving as wide a slice of musical history as possible, we want to continue to focus on filling the known gaps in the Discogs Database. Since it can be difficult to find unarchived Releases we’ve put together a guide on how to do it like a pro.

See here for full details on SPIN, the September leaderboards, and more useful resources


This guide will help you find Releases you can submit to fill those gaps by showing you:

  1. What to look for
  2. Where to look


1. What To Look For:

We’ve been digging into Discogs Data and speaking with the contributor community over the past few weeks to uncover some areas of the database that are not as complete as others. Below is a summary of all the known gaps the Database Community identified. If you remember these you’ll be well placed to find unarchived Releases next time you go digging.

Historically SPIN has always about getting as many new Submissions as possible. Like in past years there will be a ‘Total Submissions’ leaderboard, and finding Releases any any area identified below will help you get on that board. But this year we’re also building specific leaderboards for Submissions, Edits and Images in the areas marked in red, as these were marked as the biggest gaps in the Database by the Community.

World Regions and Eras:

  • All of Latin America
  • All of Asia
  • All of the Middle East
  • All of Africa
  • Pre-1950s


  • Shellac
  • Cassettes
  • 8-Track Tapes
  • 78s
  • Reel-to-Reel Tapes


  • Classical
  • Gospel
  • Country
  • Hip Hop (especially mix tapes)
  • Jazz
  • Non-Salsa Latin
  • Electronic music releases from Regions other than Western Europe and North America
  • Children’s


  • Privately pressed Releases
  • Promotional Releases


2. Where To Look:

Make a mental note of the Regions, Eras, Formats and Genres listed above and you’ll be well equipped to spot unarchived Releases next time you’re digging. Here we’ve compiled a list of the best places to go digging and the best tips and tricks to make the process as easy as possible.


Private Collections (your own or those of friends/relatives)

This might sound obvious but going through your own collection is always a good place to start. And if you have an older friend or relative who has a decent collection but is not internet savvy there’s a chance they’re not familiar Discogs and therefore might have some unarchived Releases.

If most of what’s in a collection is popular Releases from around the world or Electronic Vinyl records from Western Europe then chances are you won’t find many unarchived Releases, since those areas are both pretty well represented in the Database. To be precise, you’re unlikely to find an Artist or Label not yet in the Database, but you might find a popular Release pressed at a different plant (known as a ‘plant variant’), or Releases distributed on an a-typical format (like a Cassette tape versions of a Vinyl classic).

How to do it:

  1. Look through your collection for Releases in the gaps above.
  2. Search for the Artist and Release Title (use the Advanced Search feature if you want to use more details in your search).
    1. The easiest way to check if you have a format or plant variant of a popular Release is to use the ‘Find Your Version’ feature at the top right of the Master Release page to filter all versions by Country, Format, Label and Year
  3. If you can’t find your Release use the Add Release page to submit it to the Database.
    1. If your Submitting a format or plant variant you can save yourself a lot of time with the ‘Copy to Draft’ feature – that way you only need to edit a few details rather than make a whole new Submission:
      1. Find a version of your Release close to yours (e.g. same Artist, Label, Country and Year)
      2. Click ‘Edit Release’ at the top right of the Release page
      3. Between the Submission Edit History and the Submission Preview there is a list of options on the right of the page – choose ‘Copy to Draft’ to create a new draft Submission in your name with the same details
      4. Edit the draft so it matches the Release from your collection
      5. Submit!

If you haven’t ever used the Discogs Collection feature this is also a great opportunity to start. If you have a pile of Releases in front of you I’d say it takes about 30 seconds per Release to search, find and add to your collection.


Record Stores

If you know a record store that also sells on the Discogs Marketplace it’s likely they will know which Releases in their store can’t be found on Discogs as this is a common obstacle for many stores. Submitting new entries to the Database is extra work on top of the selling process, so many sellers only list items on their Discogs stores if they’ve already been entered into the database by someone else. If you know a store that doesn’t sell on Discogs there’s an even higher chance they have unarchived stock.

How to do it:

NOTE: This is one for more experienced contributors to try. If you’re making Submissions on behalf of someone else there is much less room for error! If you make poor quality Submissions the record store has to deal with the repercussions,

  1. Find a record store near you with Vinyl Hub (now accessible via the the Discogs App)
  2. Tell them you’re trying to find music not yet archived on Discogs (I’ve had success starting these conversations with record stores via Facebook but it’s easy enough to call or walk in)
    You can also ask if they’ve made any bulk purchases recently. If they have then there’s a good chance they have a lot of unarchived stock.
  3. If you can prove you know how to make Submissions on Discogs they might let you sit in the store and make Submissions from their unarchived stock
  4. Make all submissions from your own Discogs account, so any follow up comes to you, not the store
  5. Be very careful about your Submissions: if in doubt about anything submit the Release as incomplete and leave detailed notes in the ‘Submission Notes’ field – an accurate but incomplete Submission is better than an inaccurate but ‘complete’ Submission.
  6. Leave a remark in the ‘Submission Notes’ of every Submission explaining that you’re making Submissions with someone else Releases, e.g. ‘I do not own this Release, I’m Submitting on behalf of another person’
  7. MAKE SURE TO SUBMIT DETAILED IMAGES with every Release so other people can see the text on the Release you transcribed – this is also very important if you need to verify information again later (when you’re no longer at the store)

If you ask nicely maybe they’ll let you submit the Releases without buying them, since this is a win-win for both parties: you get rank points, they get to sell more through their Discogs store.


Discogs Sellers

If you’re willing to look a little further afield than your local record store you can try your luck asking Discogs sellers if they have unarchived stock. You might find someone who only sells online in your area, and without a physical store you might not have known they existed. It has also happened before that sellers ship a contributor a large quantity of unarchived Releases, which the contributor can submit and then send back to the seller. The most important thing here is to remember you’re submitting someone else’s Releases so you need to be incredibly careful.

How to do it:

NOTE: This is one for more experienced contributors to try. If you’re making Submissions on behalf of someone else there is much less room for error! If you make poor quality Submissions the record store has to deal with the repercussions,

  1. Follow the same tips for working with record stores, as outlined above.


Second Hand Music Fairs

Record fairs are great places to find unarchived Releases. The hardest problem is knowing what to look for. Your best bet is to check out the list of known gaps above (especially Asian, Latin American, Shellac, Cassettes and 8-Track Releases) and find the record fairs with people selling these. There a literally thousands around the world every year so you shouldn’t have to look too far.

How to do it:

  1. Find record fairs near you. Search on Vinyl Hub or just Google for fairs in your area.
  2. Install the Discogs App on your phone so you can check if Releases you have found are in Discogs Database or not whilst browsing.
  3. If you find unarchived Releases you can ask to make a few Submissions on the spot or purchase the Releases yourself and do it later.
  4. Try asking sellers if they have any bulk stock they know doesn’t sell very well as you can often buy hundreds (even thousands) of ‘unsellable’ Releases very cheaply, and if they’re not popular there’s a good chance they’re not yet archived in the Database.


Thrift Stores

Ahhh thrift stores… looking through the detritus of bygone eras that washes up here is like walking into a time machine. The best thing about them for us is that they often have a few unarchived Releases. Make a mental note of all the gaps listed above and head out to your local store with a copy of the Discogs App and you’ll be sure to come across some unarchived Cassettes or 8-Tracks at the very least. If it’s not a charity store try your luck asking for a bulk discount – it’s hard to imagine these stores are going to sell these Releases any other way so this is pretty common.


Happy Digging!

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