As that brilliant New Yorkercartoon will testify, having a record collection is not without its complications. Whether the expense of the records themselves, or the inconvenience of sorting a fully functioning hi-fi set up, first-timers and experts alike can always do with a helping hand.
Having launched our own series of Vinyl FAQs, we’ve also selected some of the online tools you should bookmark to generally life-hack your records, whether checking prices (or trading them) on huge mainstays like Discogs or Popsike, or prepping your next set with the bpms of your most obscure records.
Discogs is the most essential URL on this list but you probably already know that. Over the past sixteen years, the site has avalanched into a near-comprehensive discography of six and a half million releases; the knowledge stacked block-by-block by a community of 250,000 contributors. That nerve centre now enables three million users to manage their own virtual collections and want lists; and crucially it’s the data source for a revolutionary online marketplace. Now with the new official App, you can access the database on the go.
Not the best to look at, but full of information, Vinyl Engine claims to be “everything you need to get the best sound from your records”. What that translates as is a peerless archive of turntable, tonearm and cartridge user manuals from Clearaudio to Crosley. The exhaustive database lays out specs and reviews on practically any turntable you can hope to own, whether you’re after a a classic SL-1200 or something more obscure. And it’s all completely free.
Powered by Discogs, Vinyl Hub is the most exhaustive record shop database out there, with 5,491 crowd-sourced entries at time of writing. Explore the map or search by location, where you’ll find listing for each shop, with a short description and photos if you’re lucky. The community also regularly updates listings with closures, which is particularly useful when heading into the sticks. Also check the recordshops.org map, which includes a few spots you find find on Vinyl Hub, like Kerewan Sound in the Gambian coastal town of Banjul.
As much a tool for sellers as buyers, Popsike is the grand old lady of record pricing aggregators, pulling data from eBay and online auctions every two days to create a permanent archive of what went when and for how much. With over ten million auction results, its search function has to be top notch, although non-members will find that prolific use comes with a daily limit. On the rare occasion that Popsike doesn’t cut the mustard, you can always try Collectors Frenzy.
New on the scene is Record Bird a new service that will hook you up with info about your favourite artists’ upcoming vinyl releases when they happen. Currently just a website with a limited catalogue, it’s worth keeping an eye on developments here as there’s an app in the works that will make sure you always get the worm. Artists and labels are also encouraged to get involved and submit releases.
Welcome to the world’s largest archive of samples, cover songs and remixes, charting over one thousand years of music history. Anyone can submit detail on a sample, which, subject to approval and critique, is then added to the database for the world to explore. WhoSampled’s huge collection of over 360,000 tracks and 200,000 samples is an incredible testament to the art of sampling or as they put it, “the DNA of music”. Get started with the most sampled tracks, most covered and most remixed tracks of all time.
“The most important DJ of all time”, John Peel ruled the airwaves for over five decades. He left behind a record collection of 25,000 LPs, 40,000 singles and thousands of CDs that made musical history – and you can explore it online. If you don’t know where to start, the site also has a Record Box series, in which an all-star lineup of artists (from Joe Boyd to Mala to Don Letts) chart their own music stories and give you a tour of the archive.
Vinyl DJs, your life is about to get a little bit easier. Disco Nest is an online application that grabs the musical metadata from every record on Discogs, to tell you the key, time signature and crucially BPMs of each track. It also links to YouTube and Spotify where possible as well as giving you the option to buy the records via Juno
Available for free via the Chrome web store, this extension is a Discogs game-changer. By simply clicking on the title on a release page, the extension opens a YouTube video of the track in a pop-up window, saving you time copying and pasting track names into Google or YouTube. Obviously there’s the dedicated YouTube section on Discogs but this is often badly organised, incomplete or unavailable altogether. From our testing, the rapid search on the extension is much more reliable. (Obviously you’ll need Google Chrome to get started.)