'How to find your pressing?' is our first blog from a little online course (for beginners) we created as an introduction on how to use the famous 'Discogs' website and app. In this weeks blog we will discover what Discogs stands for, why it is worth a visit and how you can find your specific record pressing in an endless sea of variants.
What is Discogs?
So a question I get asked a bunch of times a week is 'What is Discogs'? So let me start there: Discogs is a shortened term for Discografie. The site and its app are an online showcase of most of the albums - with all their variant pressings - that exist in this world. Just like wikipedia it is made from crowdsourced information, which means that any one collector can add an album or album variant to the site's database if not already showcased. Mostly the information added is correct, and if not it will likely be corrected by another collector. All this causes Discogs to be the app of choice for many collectors to keep eyes on the market and their collection.
The perks of using Discogs.
First of all, by using Discogs vinyl collectors will receive a great education. It is a great resource for discovering new music in general or stumble upon releases of your favorite artist you did not even know existed. You can learn a lot about different pressings and their differences in background, quality and worth. You will become a lot more aware of the goldmine standard of vinyl grading (in other words 'how to grade the condition of your records') and its influence on value. Discogs is also widely used to keep track of your own record collection in terms of titles, variants and your collection's overal worth, while also being able to build a wishlist with specific pressings. You can even get notified for each record on your wishlist that is offered up for sale...cause...you guessed it right: Discogs is also a marketplace where collectors and recordstores sell their (rare) vinyl.
How to find your specific pressing on Discogs.
So obviously you can type in the name of the artist and the name of the album into the search bar... although you will see the right album cover appear, most likely you will see a whole list, or even pages filled with pressing variants. A common mistake is that newbies click on the first one and expect it to be the pressing they have in their hands, but that is often not the case at all and can leed to some interpretation mistakes regarding the value... so please stick with me here while I try to explain the most simple, yet effective way to find your pressing.
But how to do it then? If you have a sealed copy you can scan the barcode (post 1980) or search on the catalog number printed on the album jacket, often on it's spine. Sometimes, there is only one option and Discogs finds the correct album for you right away....lucky you...however, when you get a couple of hits, then look on the different product pages which picture and what information is consistent with the pressing you hold in your hand. You must take all details in consideration here, such as hype stickers, differences in color shades of the jacket...little notes printed on the back...everything. Hopefully you will find a copy that looks exactly like yours, with all information identical. However, sometimes identical jackets are used across the boarder for different pressings of the same album, so the best way to identify your pressing is to look at the record itself. (Don't open a sealed copy though, cause chances are it's worth a lot more when left untouched. When uncertain on how to find the correct pressing of a sealed copy you can always swing by your local recordstore and see if the peeps there can help you out with the puzzle challenge at hand.)
When you can, take the disc out off the jacket carefully. Now, let's take a look shall we. There are a couple of identifiers visible on the record, which can all be used (together!) in determining the specific pressing. Firstly you have the record label, with on that label a letter-number combination. When you search on that, you will most likely get a number of different hits (just like when you only put in the name of the artist or album). First let's now filter down on format and country of manufacture...thank goodness...that is a lot of options gone. Now, when going through the remaining options, you can look at the foto's on each of the release pages. Which label looks like yours? Look at the fonts, the way the text is layed out or any other identifiers that differ from your copy's label. This process takes a little bit of trial and error, but it is a great way to exclude a lot of pressings from your 'maybe it is this one - list'. The second step is the following: almost always a series of numbers and/or letters is engraved by hand or pressed by machine into the dead wax area of a record. This is called the matrix number. Check if this number is in sync with the release you are looking at on Discogs by scrolling down and clicking on IDs. You can also add the matrix number into your search bar. This longer (letter-)number combination is often more unique to the pressing, so it narrows down the options to one or a couple in a heartbeat (in most cases) and then again: check if everything you see is consistent with your copy by looking at the foto's and reading the credits, notes and IDs. Found a match? Ding...ding...ding... mission accomplished.