Adding New 'Identical' Digital Media Releases


#1

There’s a collection of digital releases that I’ve wanted to sort out for a long time, but have always put off, because I anticipated a lot of issues.
I (nervously) bit the bullet and quietly starting adding Humble Bundle releases here:
https://musicbrainz.org/series/4e4ad619-1b26-48d1-8bda-98f0241e1908
After quite a few additions I’ve met with resistance, which is fair enough, so I would like to open up the discussion here.
I don’t have high hopes because I know I’m going counter to current MB practice, but I would like to take the opportunity to try and see the ‘merge (pretty much) all digital releases’ practice reduced, or exercised with leniency.

The issue here is that a lot of these digital ‘bundle’ releases are probably identical reissues of previous/other digital reissues.
However I would like to add new releases for these bundles because:

  • They are not always identical, I have found surprisingly many instances where there are differences in: completely different tracks, track order, bitrate, cover art, tags (eg track titles)

  • I don’t always have the ability to compare the two, so I don’t know if they’re exactly the same

  • MB’s digital media release info usually sucks (sorry) so looking at the release never helps (let’s change this!)

  • If some of these releases are reissues, and some are slightly different, I don’t think it’s consistent or user-friendly to have a mish-mash of new releases and old releases representing basically the same thing

  • If I have checked and the releases are the same, MB doesn’t have good ways of me putting all the information from various ‘releases’ into the release. eg I can’t set multiple [worldwide] release dates, series dates are wrong, users can’t see what ‘releases’ are amalgamated without a too-long disambig or digging into a multi-tiered annotation, etc

  • There are specific dates, annotations/information and art that I want to store with these releases, that are not at all related to the other digital releases

  • I find this information useful and interesting, if clearly disambiguated. Other people will too

  • Merging later is always easier

This isn’t just about this particular case - I love MB, and I think to be on top in the future it needs to deliver good data about digital releases, as granular as possible (and I think the existing infrastructure is well equipped to make that possible without confusion).
In the past the attitude has often been “just merge them” with digital releases, I would like to see some steps taken to preserve things like slightly different album art, just like we would with a misprinted run of CD covers where the data is exactly the same otherwise, or different bitrate, or different ‘special’ release date (eg in the case of these limited bundles)

I don’t really expect a ‘decision’, but I would like to slowly start putting forward the idea that digital releases, including information about what storefront sold them where and when and for how much, is not throw away information! At least not for everyone. Let’s future proof MB.

People who weighed in on the edits: @CyberSkull @joiletjake @jazzyjarlith
Shout out to CyberSkull who has previously added pretty much every video game release I come across :wink:


Deezer links and references for releases
#2

You mention a few things that clearly call for a separate release: Different release date (especially re-issues), different cover art and differences in the track list. I think there should be no discussion about this to have them separate.

But otherwise many digital releases I have found really are the same from different stores. I think we had this discussion here some time back. I honestly don’t see this much different from physical releases, where we do duplicate if there are differences, and don’t if there aren’t.


#3

In the problematic examples the only thing that is different is the release date and how it was distributed (eg what bundle it was in). Otherwise I have no issue creating seperate releases, for negligible cover art differences for instance.

Upon reflection though I am leaning towards making nested series instead.
eg disambiguating every release just ‘humble bundle’, and then creating sub series for their bundles, and then linking them into the main humble bundle series (@cyberskull)
This allows the releases to be merged and still browsed effectively, although a user still can’t see what’s what without digging into the release annotation or series relationship.

I would still like to fly the flag high for leaning towards more separate digital releases than less, as long as the information to tell them apart is good. Again, you can always merge later, the other way round is harder.


#4

Is this the discussion you were referring to?


#5

I don’t think release data alone is a good enough criteria to make a new digital release for a release that matches exactly with a prior one.


#6

I was directed to this topic from another I started:

Could you clarify what you mean by “release data”?


#7

To me, there are some core factors that make a difference in a digital media release. It starts with three main groups…

  1. Stream only, like Spotify. You are not actually buying the release, you are essentially renting it as long as you are paying them, and they do have a barcode to identify their releases.
  2. Lossless file purchases, like HDTracks. There are some factors that distinguish the different types here, but a lossless file, in theory, can be transcoded to another lossless format without loss of any bits. So we are really looking at a difference of things like 16bit, 24bit, 32bit, etc.
  3. Lossy file purchases, like Amazon and iTunes. There are fairly big differences here in the method of compression in these types, so there is a clear distinction between a MP3 and a M4A file for example, sticking to the prior named stores. For lossy, I see the major factor being the encoder used, in general. Meaning that MP3 is fine, no need to clarify LAME or Fraunhofer, although Fraunhofer leaves some very identifiable quality flaws in everything it encodes.

Where this changes from current, using what I see as the most common one in my editing, is the mixing of Amazon and iTunes, and mixing Spotify and other streamers in there as well. I cannot speak for all, and this is not the place for a debate on this statement, but I see major differences here, so much that if I have an Amazon MP3 release and I come across an iTunes release, I will scrap the MP3 release for it without hesitation. So I am preferring a 256 vbr M4A over even a 320 cbr or vbr MP3. This is assuming the encoders are setup properly, and since I am referring to actual purchased audio files, I believe that is fair. My point is that there is a difference. and unlike some of the differences on physical media, like a sticker or other packaging issue, these differences are real differences in the product.

I have provided one example only on how this differs from what is currently done. I hesitate to continue unless more structured as I could go on for a long time getting into all the aspects that make a digital release different from another. But I believe the three divisions I listed above are a solid and all inclusive starting point for a digital release structure.


#8

I just added an example and thought I would share.

There are three release events here, 2 are different countries for iTunes. They are all grouped here as they are all three distributing files that are AAC-LC encoded at a high bitrate, iTunes being 256 and the JP one 320, both sitting comfortable well past the general transparency point and at top of class for lossy encoded files.

I wanted to show how a separation might look, where Spotify and Amazon are not mixed as they are different types, stream only and MP3 encoded. The “point” of this release is to group AAC at a high bitrate. So for me (in my opinion) I would look here if I wanted a lossy digital release with the best quality in general retail. Or for some, files that are compatible with Apple products, etc. I am hoping to illustrate some of the logic in the grouping process.


#9

I never use iTunes, so I didn’t know that they do different bitrates on the same releases! Crazy.
In this case I think that if someone wanted to split these two releases, they should be able to, if they add all the appropriate information. It’s still just as much (or little) of a difference as something being on different colour vinyl (I use this example a lot, but the point is that MB does tend towards, and can handle, granularity with its releases).

However as I don’t care about iTunes, I wouldn’t split them, just as thwaller wouldn’t. I think the point is simply that if someone saw value in the distinction, they should be able to.


#10

Even more than that, the iTunes above sells v256 -q2 AAC-LC encoded M4A files and the JP reference I used above is 320 AAC-LC encoded M4A file. I would not separate those because they are both AAC-LC encoded at a 256+ rate (and assumingly 44.1 etc), making them very similar to each other. This will differ though to those selling MP3 encoded files. All other things aside, the AAC encoder does not compress the same as the MP3 encoder resulting in a more distinctive difference in the final product, one that you can hear in many cases and see in most all cases.

I actually do not either, I have a strong disliking to anything that is Apple related. I cannot deny though that Apple has the superior AAC encoder, allowing iTunes to sell one of the best quality lossy digital releases possible. Point is that I follow the quality, not the store, so I try and look at things in that manner vs where I shop. Where I fail there is places like Spotify, Deezer, etc… I do not consider them as they offer nothing I actually buy, but more rent.

NOTE: I do not think or expect MB to ever get very technical on digital type releases. I may explain reasonings with technical details, but it is only to make a point. It is worth noting, however, that the stores will advertise their products with all (or at least many) of these technical details. Even as far as offering 16 bit FLACs and 24 bit FLACs and charging more for the 24 bit variety.


#11

Typo. Release Date.


#12

Got it. That makes sense now.


#13

I agree with this haha