Earlier this week, Discogs did what everyone has been anticipating for some time: they released their official app. It’s something that’s been coming down the pike pretty much as soon as app companies realized the potential of capturing a vast audience of record nerds who want to have their entire record collection database at their fingertips. The app is obviously still super new, so it feels sort of premature to give it a full review, especially since Discogs says new features are already going to be coming soon. But at the same time, I’ve been on the Beta for Discogs’ app since I wrote this article trying out five different record collection management apps, so I feel like I’ve seen enough of these to know where the deficiencies are.
And the official Discogs app has some deficiencies. This isn’t the complete solution to replace just logging on to your Discogs account on their website, but it’s still the best vinyl collection app that is available in the marketplace. There still isn’t the seamless Discogs Marketplace integration everyone wants--you can at least see what the record is selling for, but you still have go to Discogs’ site to make deals-- and you still can’t move records to individual folders within your collection without having to go to the site. You also can’t add new releases to the database directly from your phone--not that you’d want to; that process is banal and miserable enough on a desktop with the constant reminders from people telling you you messed up the vinyl tracklisting--and you can’t access your Discogs inbox from the app either.
So, needless to say, the thing needs some work. But, the good parts about it far outweigh the bad. Discogs’ app will look familiar to anyone who has MilkCrate, since Discogs partnered with them to basically build out the MilkCrate app into the Discogs app. The easy to read and understand interface is ported over from MilkCrate, but with a meaner looking black color palette. However, the barcode reader on the Discogs app seems improved from the MilkCrate original; I had a lot of false identifications on MilkCrate that were difficult to back out of to find the correct edition. I scanned something like 30 new records on Discogs, and never had a false ID. The Discogs app also allows for users to browse between folders within their collections--so I can check if a record is part of my girlfriend’s collection or my own, in my case--which none of the competitors offer currently (not even MilkCrate).
Unfortunately, for now at least, signing up for a music collection management app is mostly for the ability to make sure you don’t buy the same album twice. You’re signing up for these apps on the vague promise that at some point in the future, they’ll do everything you want to do on a record collecting app. Maybe someday we’ll get an app that can identify the edition of an album like Rumours by a picture or two. Maybe someday we’ll get an app that seamlessly integrates a marketplace and a collection database into one neat package. Maybe someday we’ll get an app that allows you to categorize albums under infinite folders right from the app. For now at least, the Discogs app is the best.
Andrew Winistorfer is Director of Music at Vinyl Me, Please, and a writer and editor of their books, 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection and The Best Record Stores in the United States. He’s written Listening Notes for more than 30 VMP releases, co-produced multiple VMP Anthologies, and executive produced the VMP Anthologies The Story of Vanguard and The Story of Willie Nelson. He lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
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