Discogs Founder Kevin Lewandowski Interviewed

Discogs founder Kevin Lewandowski at the Discogs headquarters entrance(Photo: Michael Fremer)

AnalogPlanet editor Michael Fremer first encountered Discogs founder Kevin Lewandowski back in 2013 at the giant Utrecht Record Fair in The Netherlands. Lewandowski was there to promote Discogs and of course to buy records.

Fremer was there as a guest of Record Industry, the Netherlands-based pressing plant to autograph copies of Robert Haagsma's book "Passion for Vinyl", for which he'd written a "foreward" and in which he was profiled along with many other record collectors, some well-known like Atlantic Records' CEO Craig Kallman and many others not so well known. Haagsma has since written a second edition. And of course Fremer was there to buy records, more used records!

While in Portland, Oregon recently visiting AnalogPlanet contributing editor Malachi Lui, the two visited Discogs world headquarters and interviewed founder Kevin Lewandowski. It's another great "vinyl revival" story you are sure to enjoy! It's a "it just sort of happened" story so many people involved in the vinyl revival can tell.

alucas's picture

i am an end user of both. I buy and sell on ebay for the last 20years and maybe 4 to 5 years buying on Discogs. I love the information on Discogs. Buying and returning or disputes are handled much faster and more professionally on Ebay. Discogs do not have some of the shipping costs listed from the buyers, so you have to wait for them to email back to you, and you can wait for days for the answer, too many times I have. returns are not handled through discogs, discogs has told me that since they don't handle the money they only send emails to each party, with a longer waiting time between. I sometimes just have to do a charge-back from my credit card and that is done right away! If the item, on Ebay, is not as advertised than the seller has to pay for the shipping back to himself, which is usually the cause for a used lp. Discogs has to shorten their dispute times and make sure that all sellers have their shipping costs listed and any bundled discounts. So yes buying and returning and disputing is much quicker on ebay and Discogs should streamline this part of their buyers experience. When I am looking for lps I open two windows, info from discogs and buy it from ebay, unless ebay does not have a NM copy. and discogs can at 20% of the time is much longer to ship their lps. ebay has the rule that items must be shipped in 24hrs or a day or two at most. Discogs I can go through a whole week before the seller ships??? But Discogs has the best info on the different pressings and what the label looks like!

minormist's picture

The ability to store my collection on my account and then access it through their phone app was a godsend for my record buying. No more buying copies of things I already own, and then I just scan a new album as soon as I buy it with my phone, and my collection is updated. And the wantlist helps to store particular releases of a certain album, so I don't buy the wrong pressing. It really is a must have for vinyl collectors.

OldschoolE's picture

I use Discogs all the time for information, although it too is not that clear for a number of the records I have, but maybe someday. I don’t use them for my personal database (for that I use Music Collectorz, which is linked to Discogs, but is the most powerful end user record database there is).
I did fairly recently, buy my first LP on Discogs. I say that because it is scary. Aside from the fact that I have never paid $50 for a record and never will again, the experience of buying a used record sight unseen just goes against everything I believe in. I had been looking for years for this box set of Mannheim Steamroller that despite the supposed 30,000 or something made, is quite rare. I found a copy on Discogs claimed to be NM condition in package and media for $44 + shipping (also scary because one doesn’t know how much shipping will be). I don’t do Ebay for anything and this is kind of like that. There were some unforeseen delays in the seller getting the item out to me, which gave me pause, but eventually it arrived. I must say though that what I got was actually better than described, for it was not NM, but new and sealed! In other words, I got lucky. I also understand that it is worth at least double what I paid now, which makes no difference to me because I don’t care about the perceived monetary value of a record. My thing is” can I restore and preserve it and play it to enjoy and never sell.
Having said that and despite how scary it is, after watching this video, I am thinking about trying my luck again depending on price (it will have to be far less than $50). I am looking for a couple of records I will never find in the wild and not even sure Discogs has ever heard of, but I have not looked as of yet.

Tom L's picture

I have never had a problem with delayed shipping, or had to return an item. Used with common sense, it's a terrific resource.

Puffer Belly's picture

...is that too many sellers don't know the difference between mono and stereo releases of albums from the 50s and 60s even though each version has a unique catalog number. A majority of orders I've made using Discogs have had this error. Warning the seller to check this doesn't seem to help either. Arranging returns or refunds have been easy, but still annoying.

Rudy's picture

Just a couple of comments.

First, I'm surprised the topic of VinylHub didn't come up in the interview--it is run by the Discogs crew, and does for record stores what Discogs has done for recordings. I had a similar idea about a decade ago but couldn't get the development off the ground to do it the way I would have liked to. VinylHub is IMHO still a work in progress, but is a good resource to see which record stores are nearby, especially for someone who shops for records while traveling, as I do.

I've had mixed success with buying on Discogs, but that is in no way their fault--these are individual sellers. The marketplace at Discogs is no different from how GEMM used to operate, and the other smaller sites out there attempting to do the same thing (and eBay, Amazon Marketplace, etc., for that matter)--if we have an issue with an item we receive, it falls completely upon the seller, not Discogs. And like the busy marketplace that is part of one of the forums I administer, Discogs similarly keeps their hands out of the transaction, as they should. As buyers, we still have recourse if we stick to purchasing items only with PayPal.

I have had bad luck buying a lot of used vinyl lately, most of it being due to records being too worn. (They look nice and would visually grade as NM, but a visual check won't uncover groove burn, and neither will a seller playing the record on the typical cheap turntable/cartridge in a record store.) But I've had a lot of fun uncovering sealed records, thanks to Discogs letting us filter results by condition--I've purchased a couple dozen this year alone, and it's still a thrill to open up a brand new record the moment it arrives. Every so often I'll get a dud, but it's not the seller's fault--that's the nature of buying sealed records. I will take one reject out of two or three dozen, vs. having to reject over half of what I buy due to unacceptable groove burn. (I'll hand these down for free to someone locally who will appreciate them.)

avanti1960's picture

only burned a couple times but those experiences are the vast minority. i have purchased so many mint or sealed out of print LPs that have lived up to their rating and at reasonable cost. I am forever a fan and do not hesitate to order from them.

Anton D's picture

I am likely jinxing myself, but I have had 100% happiness with my purchases.

I love the informative structure and the communication with sellers has been fabulous.

Two thumbs up for Discogs!

Russo7516's picture

I go to and deal with many record stores on the East coast . While using Discogs to see what pressing you have is GREAT. But a lot of stores are using it to set their prices . So many LP's are becoming museum pieces in the the brick and mortar stores. Plus people go into stores and say I can get that on Discogs for cheaper . The gray line is fading .

Barretter's picture

I suspect the other commenters are talking about Discog's coverage of non-classical music where there are lots of unique titles, whereas classical music has multiple recordings of the same title ; and despite what people think there are far more recordings of classical music than of other genres of music. If you search Discogs for J.S, Bach you will an entry which has 469 pages not in any particular order, which makes searching virtually impossible.
The other problem I have is that recently when trying to access particular recordings, the Discog pages come up in Russian! Why is that?

pessoist's picture

I use discogs to label or cover update my personal CD rips and downloads accordingly. I realize more and more that discogs lacks to capture the more recent approach of small artists to make their songs available through download (bandcamp or others). Not discogs fault but the gaps are big, making discogs less relevant for the "new times"... sadly.

pessoist's picture

of course, I buy with discogs, too, mostly vinyl, if I can't get it at my local shop.

rosiemax's picture

Discogs information on different versions ,and chances to buy are great. Bought about 10 times. All good.