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10 Weird Music Formats You Can Find in the Discogs Database

The history of music includes a lot of weird experiments like wire recordings, Pocket Rockers, and other formats that didn’t stick around.

As the largest online database of recorded music, Discogs contains multitudes of information on artists, labels, and genres. It also includes more physical music formats than you could collect in a lifetime. Vinyl records, CDs, and cassettes continue to remain popular throughout the Discogs Community, but what about those formats that were just too strange or inconvenient to succeed? Below, you’ll find 10 of the weirdest music formats cataloged in the Discogs Database.

Wire recording with box

Wire Recording

Year of invention: 1898

Known as the first format to feature magnetic recording technology, a wire recording is exactly what it sounds like. Recordings were captured and played back on a thin steel wire pulled rapidly across a recording head.

Top view of a tefifon


Year of invention: 1936

This German audio cartridge stands out from the pack as it features an endless loop of plastic tape. Although it was a precursor to 4-track and 8-track cartridges, the tape found in Tefifons includes embossed grooves like those found in vinyl.

Front of RCA Tape Cartridge

RCA Tape Cartridge

Year of invention: 1958

The RCA Tape Cartridge offered reel-to-reel sound quality in a more convenient package. However, it wasn’t compact enough as it was quickly phased out to make room for the even more convenient compact cassette.

Sabamobil cartridge


Year of invention: 1964

The Sabamobil was another magnetic tape cartridge that aimed to bridge the gap between cassettes and reel-to-reel. Sabamobils and their accompanying players were very expensive for music fans, so the format didn’t last long.

Beatles playtape in packaging


Year of invention: 1966

PlayTapes are 2-track cartridges that were developed to compete with 4-track cartridge technology. They started strong, but home and portable players for 4-tracks, 8-tracks, and cassettes quickly made PlayTapes a thing of the past.

Mighty Tiny on player

Mighty Tinys

Year of invention: 1967

Mighty Tinys were another format that was marketed towards children. Each tiny record was made from a hard plastic material and played on what was billed as the world’s smallest record player.

Elcaset with packaging


Year of invention: 1976

Some felt that sound quality was sacrificed when the RCA tape cartridge made way for the compact cassette. The Elcaset was introduced as a compromise between the two formats as it offered better sound quality at only twice the size of a cassette tape.

Fat Boys pocket rocker in packaging

Pocket Rockers

Year of invention: 1988

These stylish mini-tapes were developed by Fisher-Price for elementary school children. You could only play them with an equally stylish pocket rocker player, and kids had the option to clip their pocket rockers to their clothes to make a fashion statement in between listens.

Madonna hitclip in packaging


Year of invention: 2000

HitClips were invented for the young teen market and these 60-second microchip tunes provide a lo-fi music experience that can only be played on a HitClips device. Each cartridge had a clip attached to it so teens could hang them from their backpacks, keychains, or belt loops.

Dillinger Escape Plan vinyldisc with packaging


Year of invention: 2007

Half vinyl and half CD, this relatively new format contains a digital and analog layer. That means you can pop it in your CD player or throw it on your turntable and have a listen.

Digging Tip: 

As the largest online database of recorded music, Discogs can be a little intimidating. Luckily, there are tons of options for easily navigating the platform and connecting with music in meaningful ways. 

The mission, should you choose to accept it, is to learn about strange formats in the Discogs Database. 

All it takes is a few clicks: 

  • Click on the Explore tab
  • Select Explore All under the Discover heading
  • Click All under the Format heading on the left side of the screen 
  • Discover all of the weird formats that have been cataloged

Keep Digging