I guess I should probably come up with some concrete examples…
Tori Amos’ first album was “Y Tori Kant Read”, which she hated, and refused to let Atlantic records reprint/press the album after the initial pressing sold out.
Was this Withdrawn?
The album was officially reprinted for “Record Store Day 2017”
It was officially released, and sold out normally, and they didn’t make any more.
The KLF, as The Timelords, released “Doctorin’ The Tardis”, a song which they famously hated, and had their UK record label “Delete” it from their catalogue.
Was this “Withdrawn”?
The US label TVT Records however did not delete this from their catalog, so you could still purchase reprints in the US market.
The Beatles released “Yesterday and Today” in 1967, originally with the butchered baby parts cover, which was quickly replaced with the “trunk” cover art… and the whole story is in Wikipedia… but was the first release “Withdrawn” (yeah I know Wikipedia says it was withdrawn), did the record label actually demand that distributors and record shops return unsold merchandise, or did the first pressing sell out normally, and the second and later pressings just use the new cover art?
Skinny Puppy’s 1992 masterpiece “Last Rights” was released with three different errors, in three different markets (countries) Last Rights (album) - Wikipedia
I actually have a first release pressing with the 39 second mastering error, and the corrected (1993 US) pressing. (I thought I had added a release to MB for the one with the mastering error, but, I guess not? I’ll need to fix that.)
So, I’m not sure if the record label actually had the incorrect albums removed from stores or not. So, would those initial released be considered “Withdrawn”
Release group “Last Rights” by Skinny Puppy - MusicBrainz
There’s a bunch of other examples of Albums pressed with error and mistakes, which may or may not have been caught before actually reaching store shelves.
Also, Bandcamp and all the streaming sites are a swirling ball of chaos, with albums continuously changing tracklists, recordings, and cover art over time. Stuff being added, modified, and deleted at an artist’s whim. (Or when a label goes out of business and all their stuff vanishes from the online stores.)
Like, this album has been “remastered”, but the remastered audio has replaced the previous not-remastered audio at the exact same Bandcamp URLs
So, was the “1.0” release “Withdrawn”, but also there was no change to the artwork, or album, or anything, other than the PCM audio… So, how would the two versions of this album be distinguished, if you happened to have purchased and downloaded the album years apart?
There’s a zillion Bandcamp releases which have changed cover art, and nothing else…
Was the release with the older (not current) cover art “Withdrawn”?
This one has two cover art variants which are both still currently available on Apple Music and Bandcamp
Lots of Bandcamp releases add new tracks over time…
This one also changed the cover art too… are the previous releases “Withdrawn” even though it is the same tracks as before, but just with new additional tracks… so nothing has been lost (or withdrawn) everything is still available.
Carbon Based Lifeforms switched record labels sometime around 2014, and their albums which were previously available on the Apple iTunes Store disappeared, and then later, new albums, with the exact same contents were created on the Apple iTunes Store. The Apple IDs (and I guess UPCs and stuff) changed.
There are thousands of releases which were sold on Beatport, years ago, some of which I even purchased myself, which are no longer available on Beatport for unknown reasons, but I suspect mostly because the one-person record label releasing the music went out of business. And while some vinyl record pressings still physically exist of these releases, there is no way to purchase a digital copy. (Or to purchase new vinyl records from the company.)
(Sometimes, you can find a track on Soundcloud, but many times not even there.)
(This is just gone from everywhere.)
etc. etc. I should probably edit any Beatport URLs to be “Ended” now…
Beatport is also a giant mess of incorrect metadata. Wrong catalog numbers, artist names, audio WAV files attached to the wrong tracknames (and out of order). (Bad or missing cover art too a lot of the time.) Which is weird if you consider that, supposedly, the record label themselves are uploading this stuff to Beatport… but then again it makes sense if you consider most of these record companies are just one guy who’s just tying to make money and doesn’t care about metadata. (See Also: ISRCs)
This was a free promotional download from JunoDownloads, available for only a week or something…
Now that the promotion is over, it’s gone forever… or something like that…
On Bandcamp, many releases are available for “Pre-Order” where you can purchase them early, before the full release, and download a track or three… later the Bandcamp album page will be updated on the official release date to the full album tracklist. Is the “Pre-Order” release considered “Withdrawn” at that point? You can only purchase the full album after that… but, just to complicate things, I’ve Pre-Ordered an album on Bandcamp, and the only track I could download was a 60 second long except of the, later, officially released full recording… so it was not only a partial tracklist, but a partial audio… which can not be downloaded after the full release happens. (Shpongle Codex VI, and Raja Ram’s Stash Bag Volume 6 were like this… I’m not going to link to them, there’s too many URLs in this post already.)
So, are limited releases considered to be “Withdrawn”? There were only 500 physical copies pressed of something, and when they sold out, is it withdrawn? I’ve seen Bandcamp albums for which you can purchase a vinyl record (and get the digital release automatically), but when the vinyl sells out, the purchase price for the digital release is set to US$1000, and streaming turned off. (Fun fact: Bandcamp won’t let you make any purchase for more than USD1000. (But you can sell things for more than that, but no body can buy them.))
So, does “Withdrawn” mean:
- Recalled due to manufacturing error(s)
- Recalled due political controversy
- Unavailable for purchase after a certain date, or when some other condition is met
- The artist hates it and doesn’t want to to ever be sold again
- Updates to record label company, distributor, artwork, tracklist, audio, etc.
- Demos or promotional items (ok there’s already a category for these…)
- Neglect by a record label, so it falls into the public domain (prior to 1975), or the sole website it’s on doesn’t renew their domain name?