Discogs Thank You! A commercial community site with bulk data access


Discogs has cracked the nut, struck the right balance, and is therefore an absolute Internet treasure– Thank you.

If you don’t know them, Discogs is a central resource for the LP/78/CD music communities, and as Wikipedia said “As of 28 August 2019 Discogs contained over 11.6 million releases, by over 6 million artists, across over 1.3 million labels, contributed from over 456,000 contributor user accounts—with these figures constantly growing…”

When I met the founder, Kevin Lewandowski, a year ago he said the Portland based company supports 80 employees and is growing. They make money by being a marketplace for buyers and sellers of discs.  An LP dealer I met in Oklahoma sells most of his discs through discogs as well as going at record fairs.

The data about records is spectacularly clean. Compare it to Ebay, where the data is scattershot, and you have something quite different and reusable. It is the best parts of musicbrainz, CDDB, and Ebay– where users can catalog their collections and buy/sell records. By starting with the community function, Kevin said, the quality started out really good, and then adding the market place later led it to its success.

But there is something else Discogs does that sets it apart from many other commercial websites, and this makes All The Difference:

Discogs also makes their data available, in bulk, and with a free-to-use API.

The Great 78 Project has leveraged this bulk database to help find the date of release for 78’s.  Just yesterday, I downloaded the new dataset and added it to our 78rpm date database, and in last year 10’s of thousands more 78’s were added to discogs, and we found 1,500 more dates for our existing 78’s.   Thank you!

The Internet Archive Lost Vinyl Project leverages the API’s by looking up records we will be digitizing to find track listings.

A donor to our CD project used the public price information to appraise the CDs he donated for a tax write-off.

We want to add links back from Discogs to the Internet Archive and they have not allowed that yet (please please), but there is always something more to do.

I hope other sites, even commercial ones, would allow bulk access to their data (an API is not enough).   

Thank you, Discogs.

17 thoughts on “Discogs Thank You! A commercial community site with bulk data access

    1. Brewster Kahle Post author

      I do not understand your question. We use the data from discogs to help in our archiving work (and we link to their entries when we find a match), and we would like them to link to archive.org records so that their users can get more information such as high rez cover art scans and often samples or full tracks. does that answer?

      1. آهنگ جدید

        hi mr kahle. with your answere archive.org archive is full and your archive have more Details so your offer is sync Disgogs with your Data by api. yes ?
        can you made robots to sync two archives? if Disgogs reject your solution to link archive.org Data
        also my idea is that your offer is good to end user if they need full detail about each track or album or atists.

        1. Brewster Kahle Post author

          ongoing syncronization is difficult. we basically get the data at the time of digitization, and then link back so people know where the info came from.

          1. آهنگ جدید

            yes sure for big data it is hard to manuality sync. i hope they link to archive.org in 2021. or for so much small period to get feedback. i think your option is good for end user. because with fully information we can choose better and maybe big sale on music track sale in music market

  1. George Balanchine

    This is wonderful. I hope others follow too. I believe that the core principal of the internet is free knowledge/information sharing which on the web is expressed by including site links. Archive freely links out, as does Wikipedia and other non-profit organizations that want to make the internet a better place (free access to more quality content).

    Since Discogs is still commercial (and like any other commercial site, they try to focus on user retention), is it possible for them to link back to Archive since at a certain level, Discogs importance to the web is greater than their commercial needs/goals.

    What’s your thoughts on internet commerce? How does it influence internet’s development. Are you part of any Internet forums?

    Sorry for the questions. I really love what you’re doing and want to know more about the person behind it.

  2. Buttler

    t has been a very long time since this question was originally asked. Is there any progress to releasing the data in a more usable and sensible format? I fear there is none.

    If anyone on this forum is interested I have been developing an application that parses the ratings.list and genres.list into a local XML data file. The files are automatically downloaded and parsed. It allows the user to perform advanced searches of the movie data.

  3. Prive

    You could call me old school but I still like music cassettes and disks over digital assets. I have a rare collection of Leppard from the 80’s, I would like to share or donate whatever if possible.

    I agree with you on allowing bulk access to the data for the greater good. I feel somethings should be done for the generations to come.

    Cheers, Discogs

    1. Brewster Kahle Post author

      The Internet Archive would love donations of physical materials (we are getting some great collections!). We will preserve and digitize anything we do not already have. Please think of us for donations.


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