Shuffling, puddle-deep house and the eternal v-neck crisis might be troubling dance music fans more than most issues this year, but nothing gets record buyers more wound up than Discogs hawkers.
Discogs, for the uninitiated, is an online marketplace where people can sell their records – it’s effectively Ebay, but specialising in music, and it doubles as an invaluable fact-checking resource. In recent years, it’s become big business for small-minded people, with users buying up substantial numbers of limited records in order to sell them when they’re no longer available first hand (notable recent examples include Sandwell District’s Feed Forward and those Four Tet / Burial collaborations). When I interviewed Detroit veteran Andres last year, he explained that the reason he’d started reissuing his early records was because he’d meet kids in his area who couldn’t afford the prices that “Ebay cats” were selling them for. That same week, Andres DJed at London club Fabric and one Discogs seller bought every single copy of his hard-to-find debut album from the merch table.
Not everybody’s taking this lying down, though. The website No Repress offers a service that they call Fistcogs, where they track down hard-to-find records and re-sell them at reasonable prices – in short, they undercut people who buy records just to sell them at inflated prices on Discogs, and they take pride in it too (Fistcogs’ motto simply reads “No overpriced records – No bid – Poor dj only – Don’t email us if your plan is to make money over it on Discogs!”). There’s not a lot of information available on the No Repress website, but when I spoke to the store’s founder, who trades under the alias norepress, he claimed that “there is really no need to explain the specifics, I just make sure to get those items people want so much and re-distribute them to the right people.”
Basically, you get in touch, and if they think that you’re genuine, then they’ll help you find your record. Norepress launched the website earlier this year, with only a small handful of records available to buy. “You go on the website”, he explains, “see a record you wanted, send me an email and then we usually start chatting a little bit. The process is really easy but I just wanna make sure I don’t sell those records to the wrong people.”
“Every day“, he emphasises, “I get mad at someone on Discogs about new releases! I remember losing my shit when that Sandwell District album came out and was hitting 100€ after a couple of days. It doesn’t even make sense, you get listings for unplayed and still sealed copies popping up online only days after release because it’s like some limited edition shit. People playing Wall Street instead of just buying records for themselves. Sometimes, you can miss out on a release because you went to eat a pizza and then you’ll have to spend triple the price just because an idiot bought five copies.”
Although norepress’s issue is with individuals taking advantage of the Discogs system rather than the website itself, he has been “told off by Discogs a few times [for] trying to move people away from possible sales.” Generally though, “people dig the project, I get a lot of emails from people from all over the place telling me it’s a good idea and they’re tired of having to spend ridiculous amount for new records. I get to send records to places like Malaysia, India or Uruguay where people don’t even have a small chance on getting those record for cheap.”
As well as the No Repress website, there’s a Fistcogs section in Bass Cadet [pictured], a record store opened in Berlin earlier this year by a friend of norepress, Etienne Dauta. “[It’s where] I get to put whatever records I want from the weekly selection and where we sneak some sought after records from time to time”, he explains, before closing with a shout out. “It would really help to give a big shout to all the label heads willing to help me, as there is a lot of people living outside the EU or United States that are struggling to get those records before they hit Discogs. They can always get in touch with me and I’ll – hopefully – do the job”.
Special thanks to Steve Braiden