In order to build a cohesive and well put together collection first you need to know what you are looking for. To do this you will need to do a little research. Ask yourself this: What do I listen to the most? That is probably what you will be wanting to collect. Don’t just collect certain CDs because they are worth a bunch of money, that will get boring fast. Plus it will cost you a bunch of money that could have been spent on what you really want.
Say you really like the group ぜんぶ君のせいだ。(Zenbu Kimi no Sei da.), they might be a good starting point for your collection. What is the first thing you are going to want to find out about them? You will probably be wanting to find out their full discography. Did you know that they have put out 12 recordings already? Of course this includes different versions of some recordings, but we will get into that in a bit. How did we get this information you may ask. Lucky for us, the group keeps a full discography on their website: http://kiminosei.com/discography/. This is not quite as common as you might think. A lot of groups have discography sections on their websites, and those are a good place to start.
Some groups only have partial discographies or no discography at all. Take for example ヤなことそっとミュート (Yanakoto Sotto Mute). There is no discography what so ever on their website: http://yanakotosottomute.com/. We know they have CDs out because we have seen them on Twitter and other social media sites.
How do we go about building a discography? Research. The best place to start building a discography is online CD shops. For example you can probably build a pretty decent picture of Yanakoto Sotto Mute’s CDs from CDJapan (http://www.cdjapan.co.jp/) and Tower Records (http://tower.jp/). In the Tower listings we see 6 items (there are 7 but we are not counting the DVD) but you will notice that 4 of them are just variations of the same CD. So, as of now we know they have put out 3 releases. I wonder if there are more that might be out of print already or were maybe a venue only sales item. This is always a good question to look into regardless of how new the group is. How will we find out? Well a really good indicator of missing CDs are catalog numbers. As we can see by the Tower listings the catalog numbers run from YSM-2 to YSM-7, looks like YSM-1 is missing. I have found really good place to find missing CDs is Wikipedia Japan (https://ja.wikipedia.org). Now you will have to search for the group the way that they denoted their name, in this case: ヤなことそっとミュート. After we pop that in to the search we are lucky enough that they had an entry (some groups do not) and we find that there is a release with the catalog number YSM-1. So we have now built a full discography.
While I am doing this I like to keep a spreadsheet of other type of document with all of my findings. I usually try to put in as much information as possible. I usually end up with something like this.
I only knew the first CD, 「8CM EP」, was venue only because I looked a little bit more into the Wikipedia page. This type of information can be important when trying to gauge the difficulty you might face in trying to find the CD. One last thing that got cut off on the above image is that in total there were only 1000 total units of 「8CM EP」 made. This will of course make it a bit more difficult to find when added to the fact that it was venue only. I only found out that 「8CM EP」 was limited to 1000 units through the groups Twitter account while doing deep research on the release. That type of research is usually not needed but can be helpful.
Now we know that they have put out 4 releases, a couple of them in a few variants. Now is decision time. Do you want to be a completionist collector or is a single version of a recording enough. Lucky for us the 「8CM EP」 and 「Sealing EP」 releases are only different in appearance (in some cases the recorded tracks can be different on different versions). After you have made your choice you can start buying up what you don’t already own. Buying is covered in a different section of this guide.
In the next section we will look at the differences in CDs. They do tend to come in many sizes of packaging and we will also look at the whole different versions mess that Japan loves so much. We will also cover some other technical things that might aid you in figuring out why a CD that is only a year old is so dang hard to find.
Next: A Look At CDs