A discussion on release level vs work level credits

Hi folks, There’s usually quite a lot back and forth edits regarding recording and work metadata for how someone should be credited, so hopefully we can come up with a definitive answer to it.

This is a hypothetical question, say there’s a release by Darren Styles called Skydivin’ in this release group there are two releases, with differing linear notes, one gives a writer credit to Darren under the name Styles, while the other release credits the same song as Mew (His real second name) the resulting work should then always use his real name, Darren Mew in an effort to standardise the credits. The should apply to other types of track level metadata like vocals, instruments engineers, etc., however all release level credits should follow the credited as scheme since those are unique to that release, where as the recording/work level metadata is used across multiple releases.

To give some insight into how I view metadata, I personally see anything that is to do with the production/creation of an album should always be credited under real names with no variation, while release level metdata can be variable, like an artist using a slightly different name, again with Darren Styles, he often collaberates with other artists under Styles & X so I’d credit it under Darren Styles & X and put Styles in the credited as section so that all of those collaberations are still grouped together when tagging the music for use in a HTPC enviroment.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, I don’t really do long form questions like this so it might be a bit messy, if anything is hard to understand or straight up confusing let me know and I’ll try to elaborate on it!

1 Like

I’ve always tried to keep works separate.
So, for me, it doesn’t matter that a cd jacket says “written by Kong”. When I add a work, I try to list it as Mario Dunki.
*completely made up names. Dunki, pronounced Donkey. Mario (and Luigi). Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers.

The reason for this (outside of any MB guideline scenario) - I can go to a song registry (BMI, ASCSAP, etc) and find a list of works who have no “performed by”, or they have dozens of artists who performed them.
That work/song was written by ‘person x’. There can be any number of different reasons why it is listed differently on an album. In the old days (physical media), sometimes it was due to space - maybe just the last name of two band members are listed, but in reality 5 people wrote the song (2 band members and 3 outsiders).
Digital Media, however, with unlimited space, you often find people “name dropping” solely for the web hits - Written by Person X who performs under Artist Y and has worked with Group 3.

**Not only can I add just works from BMI, I have done so on numerous occasions. Usually it is because I am looking for one artist and find others of the same name. So, I add them and their works.


Yeah that’s fairly similar to how I see it as well, to try to elaborate I think that all credits for recording/work metdata should follow one name for all, regardless of how it was credited, the way it was credited could be added as an alias if someone really wanted to the reason for that is that it makes everything consistent, and easier to follow, as well as it makes finding works from one person much easier.

Manually added aliases (found at the top section of the alias tab) appear in search results.

I am not sure if “artist credits/credited as” appears in search results. Which is why I make sure to add many names to the alias section.


Note that credits from performance rights organizations are not too suitable for the purposes of importing into MusicBrainz, since their purpose is distributing proceeds rather than indicating actual artistic origins (i.e. there may be credits where the person involved didn’t actually contribute to the work in any way, but is supposed to share in royalties).

I’m not sure about this, I would follow the actual credits on a release. If there was conflicting credits on different releases/recordings I would give the legal name precedence for the work, but if someone was credited under an artist name, I would use the artist name.

Presumably you could programmatically make these kind of credits always return the legal name (trace a line through ‘performs as’ relationships etc) if you wanted to, but you can’t do it the other way round.

I don’t edit many works but that’s been my view so far.


That’s a fair take away, it’s better to have that data there than to not have it, though I personally prefer using the real name of an artist for credits like that, but that’s the thing it’s a preference, not a style guide which is why I started this thread, so we could have a good healthy discussion on it.

1 Like

I’ve heard this before.
But you can say this about anything - why was Elvis Presley included as a writer on his album covers when it was others doing the writing. Why was Ace Frehley on the cover of Killers and Creatures of the Night. The list goes on and on.

If a rights society isn’t a good place to know who gets credited on a work, where do you suppose we get the composers from?
Please don’t say album covers - because as I noted above:

I find this the other way around. The Rights Soc page is written by the lawyers and accountants. The album covers are written by the band and graphic artists.

There is no “one answer fits all”. Different bands, different eras, different arguments. We can only ever put in the best details we have to hand based on all the sources we have available.


or the advertising agents at the record label

I like this:

1 Like

Everyone gets an oar in somewhere. I’ve been concentrated on old 60s\70s stuff so I know it changes a lot over the years.

It also gets confusing when you see a writing credit to a band name, and then the line-up changes. So now do we change that to the band members of that time? or leave it as a credit that is now technically incorrect?

It is all made extra messy because this is a confusion of who actually wrote it, and who is going to get paid for use of the work. Many of the bands I look at share the cash out between band members so credits are often for all band members even if the drummer was not involved in writing this actual song.

So we can only fill in the best we know today, and wait for the books to be written with the real stories. :slight_smile:

group credits on works are less confusing when works have dates associated, but the only way to do that afaik is to use the place relationships

If you know the date or year when a work was written (which is pretty rare), you can set it on the composer, lyricist, writer work-artist relationship.

that seems less than ideal to me, let’s say a song was written over the course of a few months in 2000 (2000/6/6 - 2000/8/1), if you put those dates in on a work<->artist relationship it’ll mark the relationship as ended (since the end date is in the past), which isn’t really accurate

The writing process of this work in this form has ended, indeed.
Because you already have recordings recorded and released.
If there is later a new version, this will be a new work. Example second version work.

If you just want 2000, write 2000 in start and end fields.

But as I said, it’s not frequent to know the writing dates.
You need an interview or liner notes from the authors saying so.

Otherwise you never can tell.
Works could have been writen (or created) without formal publishing, years prior recordings.

1 Like

yes, but the checkbox says “This relationship has ended.”

the composer’s relationship to a work doesn’t end when the writing process ends

it does seem like the best place to put dates on works though

Like for other relationships, you should read it as the writing process occurred on that date, or between this and that date.
No problem. :wink:
Bob Dylan lyrics, for instance, have dates.

1 Like