Interview with Discogs' Corey Burmeister

Posted by Billyjam, February 6, 2014 12:32pm | Post a Comment

A couple of months back in New York City at the WFMU Record Fair, I ran into the folks from Discogs who had a booth distributing info. I have known of Discogs for some time now as a go-to, reliable website and database of some of the most exhaustive lists of nearly every release out there (including lots of electronic and hip-hop). With just under 5 million releases listed on its site, Discogs provides a wonderful resource just a click away with its seemingly endless lists of recordings and releases (including promo and rare non-label releases). Discogs is owned by Zink Media Inc. and based in Portland OR. I followed up with Discogs staffer Corey Burmeister to ask him some questions about what the site does overall, the music that it covers, its history, and where it is going. 

Amoeblog: When did Discogs come about and when it first formed did it envision becoming what it is today?

Corey @ Discogs: Discogs was the result of Kevin Lewandowski's love of electronic music.  It was started in 2000, and he had no idea it would get this large.

Amoeblog: I understand that users upload content on releases but what percentage of that data has to be edited? I have heard of folks not putting in upper case when it is supposed to be that way etc.

Corey @ Discogs: The database is built and edited by our users. I don't have the percentages off hand, but the number of submissions that are not edited after they go into the database is small. We believe in a process of continual improvement, much like the way open source software is developed. Get the data out there, get as may people to see it as possible, and let them update it to make it more correct or to enrich the data.

Amoeblog: What are the most typical mistakes or omissions that content providers make?

Corey @ Discogs:  We call the people that add and edit data "Submitters". A typical mistake is not checking the artist and label links, and so not linking to the correct artist or label. These are important things to get right, as that is what builds the discographies. We are going to be working on improvements to the submission process to make it easier to find the correct artist or label to link to.

Amoeblog: Approx how many new titles get added per day or per month?

Corey @ Discogs: We have about 2,500 releases added per day, about 75,000 per month.

Amoeblog: I never realized there were so many different versions of international pressings of certain records. What release has the most different versions?

Corey @ Discogs: Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon has 250 versions.  The Beatles' Sgt.  Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band has 227 versions, and Michael Jackson's Thriller has 172 versions.

Amoeblog: What do you not publish on Discogs? (eg: mixtapes or semi-illegal "promo" releases?)

Corey @ Discogs:  In order for something to be accepted into the database it must be a recorded sound (No music boxes or player piano rolls) and it must be released to the general public (no one-off bedroom releases).

Amoeblog: How important is the selling feature of Discogs?

Corey @ Discogs: The buying/selling feature was requested by our contributors and as a result has created an outlet for individuals and shops to increase their sales and in some cases keep their doors open.

Amoeblog: While I know it is the best (that I can find) database of artist releases it seems that - in this digital age where, due to few people left to buy stuff and artists not expecting to sell their releases, recently I have noticed that there are many releases by artists (mostly individual digital only released tracks) that don't get listed on Discogs. Is it impossible to keep up with all of the releases coming out nowadays and will this mean that Discogs will become more of a retro site?

Corey @ Discogs:   The database is built by our contributors, so reflects what they are interested in cataloging. I think there is more excitement around cataloging something that doesn't have any information on it on the internet, as opposed to basically mirroring the information that is on iTunes or other digital download sites. Also, our core users are most passionate about physical releases, and especially vinyl. Although there is a strong element of cataloging historical data, and interest in music that is not necessarily current, there are also more and more pressings being made on vinyl these days. We are friendly with a pressing plant in the Netherlands called Record Industry, and they are telling us they are operating at capacity now for the first time in years. So I don't think we will become more of a retro site than we are now, in that we catalog music release history going back to the 1880s.

Amoeblog: What are some new advances Discogs is making for the upcoming year ahead?

Corey @ Discogs:    Our goal is to build the most complete and accurate music database, that is our first priority always. We are planning on making some significant changes to the submission form, and we're hoping to have the entire site optimized for mobile devices by the end of 2014.

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Corey Burmeister (1), Michael Jackson Thriller (1), Discogs (1), Record Collecting (23), Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon (1), Interviews (31)