Cataloguing Your Record Collection: What’s the Best Way?

Years and years ago, I tried to put my recorded music collection into a database. I thought it would be so cool to be able to search for every detail on song on every piece of vinyl and every CD I owned. I worked on it for a couple of Sunday afternoons before I gave up. It was hopeless.

I can’t remember what database program I used–it might have been a Lotus product–but once iTunes came on the scene, my problems were (mostly) solved. I’m still ripping my CDs, but my I have almost instant access to more than 65,000 songs.

There’s still the problem of vinyl in my basement. I have almost no idea what’s down there. This brings me to an email from Jeff:

I, too, have a large LP collection. Are you aware of a database of popular lps, one that is comprehensive and sortable?

I’m looking for a database which is comprehensive, sortable and reliable source that lists all lps. Discogs is a train wreck of errors, confused categories and redundancies.

If I am collecting a particular artist’s records, or a label’s, or am interested in all mono releases across labels from 1960-1967, how can I do that?

Sorry to belabor this, but I’ve been asking this question for years and still don’t see a source that can do this. How can we collect records if we don’t know what’s out there? How can anyone claim mastery of their subject without that kind of rigor?

Any suggestions for software that might create some sanity for people like Jeff and me?

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

14 thoughts on “Cataloguing Your Record Collection: What’s the Best Way?

  • March 20, 2015 at 9:32 am
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    I tried the same thing with my cd’s before I went digital and used software called CATraxx and it worked pretty well. Seems they’ve ceased operations now but they’re suggesting an alternative called Music Collector now. Never used it, but if it’s anything like CATraxx it’s probably pretty good http://www.collectorz.com/music/catraxx-alternative.php

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  • March 20, 2015 at 9:36 am
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    I use MyRecordList.com. Rather easy to enter in records and to peruse after. I use my own list to scan for something I’m in the mood for.

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  • March 20, 2015 at 9:36 am
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    I just use Discogs. Occasionally takes some time to narrow down which specific release you have (if you are that picky like I am), but it works for me. Granted, I’m only at like 150 LPs/7″s, but everytime I get something new, I add it right away.

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  • March 20, 2015 at 9:38 am
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    I use Discogs (http://www.discogs.com/). It’s not perfect, but it’s free. And, i always have access to my collection on my phone so I can avoid buying the same record over and over (believe me, it’s happened).

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  • March 20, 2015 at 10:27 am
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    Discogs has a mobile app where you can scan the bar code and it will automatically add the info in (if someone has already populated the details) and if your obscure title is not in their database, then you can add it in manually. It’s handy when you go shopping so that you don’t buy a duplicate.

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  • March 20, 2015 at 10:34 am
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    I really like Discogs.com but I haven’t tried the other two suggested. It has great information and keeps track of condition and value and has a large community. My only knock is that I do find it hard at times determining which release of the album I have.

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  • March 20, 2015 at 10:45 am
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    Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best, and as such, you may wish to consider using Google Forms (available at https://drive.google.com/). A few reasons for this:

    1) All Google docs allow smart-searches among ALL fields. This is not the case with many databases which search specific fields, and with the size of the collection you have, being able to access a record in seconds is important from any field.
    2) The software doesn’t reside on a machine, so you can make updates anywhere / anytime through your Google account
    3) No cost

    Giddi-up.

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  • March 20, 2015 at 12:50 pm
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    I use Discogs. I like it because about 99% of the time they have the exact album issue that I want to catalog!

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  • March 20, 2015 at 2:48 pm
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    Hi all; it’s Jeff from the query above. I may not have been clear enough about my question. I’m not looking for a program into which I put information; I’m looking for a database which is comprehensive, sortable and reliable source that lists all lps. Discogs is a train wreck of errors, confused categories and redundancies.

    If I am collecting a particular artist’s records, or a label’s, or am interested in all mono releases across labels from 1960-1967, how can I do that?

    Sorry to belabor this, but I’ve been asking this question for years and still don’t see a source that can do this. How can we collect records if we don’t know what’s out there? How can anyone claim mastery of their subject without that kind of rigor?

    Thoughts?
    Jeff

    Reply
  • March 20, 2015 at 8:04 pm
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    For cd, I used CDpedia by Bruji for a while but got bored, I’m not a data nerd. You can use your computers camera to scan the barcode (or input the title or UPC manually) and the software gets the info, cover art etc by searching the big e-sites. Also allows you to keep tabs on titles loaned out and gives a bunch of stats on your collection.
    This sounds like the kind of thing you need, too bad vinyl predates the UPC.

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  • March 21, 2015 at 4:16 pm
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    I use Collectorz.com software and find its online database for lookup (which includes barcode info) is almost always perfect.

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  • March 22, 2015 at 6:33 pm
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    just trying out Discogs,looks pretty good so far.
    even used it on my Cassettes.
    Yeah,u gotta spend a bitta time but so far so good…..
    Just scan the barcode.Most of the time gives you the info right away.

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  • February 24, 2018 at 7:09 pm
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    Don’t know if anyone still looks at this, but I’m still looking for answers. I’m not looking for a software program, but for guidelines for a basic cataloguing structure. I have about 1500 LPs and CDs, all catalogues, and every track catalogued – in old Microsoft Works! However, my system needs to be changed. When I started, with only a small collection, it was a fairly simple system; # was for collections and samplers that didn’t have other particular quality, B could be Bach, Bolivia or baroque, etc. and the details (label, company, era, tracks, were all in the Works catalogues. The main purpose of the catalogue numbers was for shelving. However, as the collection got bigger, this became meaningless, with sections like the Bs and Cs growing to well over 100 each. So I want to devise a new system, chiefly for shelving, so that I can find things more easily, without having to do a compute search. But my problem comes with whether i place things by era, composer, instrument, performer, country, etc. So do I put all of Chanticleer together, or do I put their baroque stuff under baroque, their Christmas stuff under Christmas, their world music under world music, etc? There must be some guidelines for this – record/CD shops have been doing it for decades. Any suggestions>

    Reply

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