I don’t think a promo in the mb sense (e.g. sent to a radio station) would ever be considered withdrawn? They’re not really part of a catalogue/discography anyway. Often enough the album doesn’t actually come out for some reason, but I don’t think that affects the promo status.
That’s already covered by the description of “Withdrawn”:
The shown-by-default types are just hardcoded, so by default these got hidden. I see the majority opinion seems to be that Withdrawn should still be shown, so I’ll look into that
Edit: sigh, I forgot with the current code what counts as official is hardcoded in the schema, so it needs to be changed as a schema change. So, this will have to wait until May unless we find a way to change it sooner. I’ll check if that’s possible
So… Just wondering… on a long enough time scale, isn’t every release eventually “Withdrawn”?
Is this distinct from…
- A label deliberately letting an album go “Out of Print”
- A label deliberately “Deleting” it from their catalog (I think this is just the UK term for “going out of print”.)
- A label going out of business
- An artist changing their name
- An older album, now only available as a remastered deelux release
- No change to the album other than new cover art on Bandcamp
Like, if in the 90’s, an album was sold at Walmart with censored cover art, but today you can only purchase the album with the original cover art, has the censored release been “Withdrawn”?
If the album was only available on the artist’s official website, and the artist has let their DNS/hosting lapse, so the album is no longer available… is it “Withdrawn”?
If that album shows up on Spotify in 2023… has it now been… Un-Withdrawn?
If an album was publicly available on Bandcamp, and then the artist/label made it subscription-only (or only available on their Patreon) has it been Withdrawn or not?
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Was this Withdrawn?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Was this “Withdrawn”?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?
Sometimes it’s the platforms forcefully removing releases. Are those “withdrawn”?
Starving Slvts Always Get Their Fix (cover replaced) and Cyberia lyr1+2 (release removed) might have been affected for the same reason. (Unfortunately I don’t remember the exact timeline of events but at least for Starving Slvts that seems to be the case based on release date)
Not too long ago quite a lot of their older releases have turned subscription only. I won’t edit the URL relationships though, not worth the effort.
Specific to Germany but perhaps there are other countries with similar laws:
What about confiscated or indexed releases? There are thousands of indexed/confiscated releases
It’s not just whole releases that can be made unavailable but single tracks and videos too, e.g. YouTube:
This content is not available on this country domain due to a legal complaint from the government.
YouTube Music on the other hand removed the album completely in Germany.
Great post. Love the detailed list!
Also add in “Change to cover artwork due to lawyers” [Dr Phang cover] and “Getting in trouble for using an uncleared sample” [Possibly Maybe Telephone Sample] [F Off Noddy]. (And many many more examples like that)
At the very least a Withdrawn needs to be treated as Official and be listed with Official editions. Not separated like Promos. With many of these being listed the “Withdrawn” editions will actually be the original releases. Also therefore holding that all important original release date.
Here’s another one: “Recalled/pulled by label due to artist’s bad behavior.”
This one is most commonly associated with Japan, where artists frequently have their entire catalogs recalled (and in some cases, upcoming releases cancelled) for doing anything their talent agency deems unbecoming. Most of these cases have been after an artist was arrested for something (usually drugs, but sometimes more serious crimes such as voyeurism or even rape) but it’s also not uncommon for artists to be punished for out-of-wedlock pregnancies and shotgun marriages. I know of one who had a tour cancelled for this, and his agency stuck him with a bill for the cancellation.
In the West, these cases don’t happen as often, and they’re usually for something far more extreme. The best example of this I can give happened just a few years ago, when Relapse Records pulled the entirety of the band Tau Cross’ catalog from streaming services after the band’s frontman submitted a thank-you to a prominent Holocaust denier as part of what would have been the liner notes to the band’s third album (which the label also cancelled).
This is becoming a fascinating thread - but are these details not just stories for the Annotations? These are the kind of events that make some Releases far more collectable than usual.
It gets especially complex with the Japanese examples - if something is withdrawn in one territory but not others then does this flag get set?
ARGH! Why did you go and set those flags? You have now borken the Original Release Dates
Withdrawn should not replace Official status. These are still official releases.
Off the top of my head, I don’t know of any instances involving a Japanese artist where territories other than Japan have been affected. The ones I know off the top of my head happened before most Japanese record labels even started offering their catalogs digitally outside of Japan.
I can guarantee, though, that if another one of these incidents happens, those releases will be withdrawn worldwide, not just in Japan.
What does Picard show when it fills in original release date? I don’t know how to test API calls but if this still returns the correct date it is not an issue, Picard does read the date correctly, just tested it.
On the Release page the Withdrawn is placed at the bottom of the list. I think that looks a bit odd as I don’t think Withdrawn should be a the bottom with bootlegs and promos. If anything the Withdrawn status makes it more interesting.
We should still be able to set the Official flag. This should not be an either or state. How would you set a Promo as withdrawn?
sorry, I’ll go away…
Oh yeah, The Avalanches first album could not be re-released because of sample clearances… Also, the Gray Album (mash-up).
And also this:
OH! I almost forgot one of the most famous examples of this:
another example of a withdrawn release might be when a label re-releases an album with a different artist name, for example:
the story behind this is quite interesting, at least to me. there’s a video on this whole situation that I’ve posted before~
anyways, I’ve got more work to do on Caramell…
The whole story is even worse. This label stole the remix from its actual creator, attempted to erase the origins of the meme underpinning it and has been abusing the DMCA to cover its tracks.
For those who are uncertain as to what we mean by “withdrawn,” I’m throwing my hat in the ring with this edit.
Long story short, I found a greyed-out release on Spotify and imported it using a-tisket. Since the release is no longer available to stream, I figured it might qualify as “withdrawn” (unlike with other streaming services, Spotify’s API still returns results for pulled releases).
That’s a good example.
There are a few artists on Bandcamp who have changed their name – their account name – so that it breaks all the previous URL links, but not altered their previously released albums in any way. I’ve manually had to go to each release in MusicBrainz, edit the old URLs to be “Ended”, and then added the new ones. This editing could be done with a single SQL UPDATE statement, but it’s very tedious to do through the web UI.
Wikipedia has some lists…
(This one missed two of Jane’s Addiction’s album covers.) (Yeah, I know I can just edit the Wiki to add them…)
(This one missed Delerium replacing “Koran” with “Window to Your Soul” on the album “Karma”.)
But, so, like… When a later release of an album, changes relative to an earlier release, does that automatically imply “Withdrawn” or is it only “Withdrawn” if the change was a deliberate response to an error, or controversy, or legal action, or um… something other than just letting something lapse after a long period of time.
Like, songs get dropped from releases for time constraints on the medium, and maybe for artistic reasons if the artist has enough control over what gets re-released. (Basically, and artist doesn’t really like a song, and if the album is self-published, they can just remove it.)
Or, does “Withdrawn” mean that a record company has actually had physical media recalled from stores and warehouses to be destroyed?
When the album publishing got far enough along that there was a tangible, physical object, created, and may or may not have made it to the public (or radio stations).
If an album is changed in development, before being pressed into plastic, that’s not considered “Withdrawn”, right?
For digital releases though… there may have never been a physical representation of the music in a bunch of plastic. And digital releases disappear all the time, mostly due to a lack of maintenance and upkeep by the custodians of the music… not because the label/publisher was forced the remove something due to external controversy, or because the artist just didn’t want people to listen to the album for their own personal reasons.
But… yeah so… there are many examples, of physical media releases, which were changed in later manufacturing runs, but also for which the initial manufacturing runs were not physically recalled from physical stores… The release was allowed to just sell out normally. Are these cases “Withdrawn”? A lot of album cover changes fall into this category. … oh, but also… A lot of album covers are changed purely for artistic reasons (preferences by the artist), and not because Walmat refuses to sell it for showing too much cleavage.
(Oh also, some album covers are changed between American/European/Australian/etc. releases, just because someone at the label likes a different photo of the band or something. Some ABBA releases are like this for example.)
Anyway… Here’s another example of an album which was sold to the public for only three days by mail-order TV commercials, before getting sued out of existence:
The URL parser in this editor will stop parsing a URL when it hits a third “:”, I had to replace it with %3a in the above URL.
Oh yeah, here’s a famous example:
I don’t know if this album was physically manufactured with the original cover art or not. It sounds like the public release date was after the 11th, but that was postponed until the new cover art was made.
Anyway, Wikipedia has a lot of stuff documented
There was a promotional release with the original cover art
Street Date 9/4/01 For Promotional Use Only
So… was this “Canceled”, or “Withdrawn”, or neither?
As has previously been covered, I don’t think a promo can be ‘withdrawn’.
I haven’t read everything, but I don’t think it’s that complex tbh:
Released, then taken off the shelves: Withdrawn
Planned but never released: Cancelled
Something that was just sold out or stopped being manufactured ‘naturally’ doesn’t meet either of these criteria.