At what point does a collaboration between artists become a group?

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Nick Cave and Warren Ellis have collaborated on numerous soundtrack albums over more than a decade. In MusicBrainz all of these albums are credited to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis (as separate artists with a join phrase).

Recently I noticed that a single recording is credited to Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (a group), and I wanted to split the artist credit into two separate artists for consistency ( Then I got a “No” vote from @brucey who said “Nick Cave & Warren Ellis” is an established collaboration, and that it’s the releases credited to Nick Cave and Warren Ellis as separate artists that should be corrected.

I was trying to find some guidelines about this, but I could only find with the advice:

Established bands (like Emerson, Lake and Palmer) shouldn’t be split; this is intended for short term collaborations that don’t merit their own artist page

So, I began to think that maybe the editor who voted “No” has a point? How is Nick Cave & Warren Ellis different from, let’s say, Simon & Garfunkel, or Hall and Oates in that regard?


Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s a clear 100% for sure definition that we can use. My personal sense is that if other sources consider them a monolithic group, then Musicbrainz should as well. In your examples, both Simon & Garfunkel and Hall & Oates have independent Wikipedia articles in addition to articles for the members, and so a group entry is clearly warranted. However, there is no article for Cave & Ellis, and therefore it’s a bit more nebulous. On this one example, I’m with you, so I’m tossing a yes vote onto the edit.


Thank you, yes your summary captures my perspective. I don’t think there’s any requirement for them to be a “monolithic” group, merely an established (not short term) ongoing project. As a duo that has released 11 albums so far the partnership is significant in its own right and as the guidelines express it “merit their own artist page”. The duo has not only released a very substantial body of recorded work, but also sold out venues such as the Sydney Opera House. While there may not (yet) be a wikipedia entry for the duo they are recognised as a group in discogs, iTumes, spotify, and I am sure other sources as well.


My gut feeling is that the first releases by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis were credited as two separate artists because it seemed appropriate at that time, and that the next releases were still credited in the same manner for consistency.

It’s good we’re having this discussion, maybe the AC should indeed be changed - now that we have more than a decade of perspective. :slight_smile:

It would take a bit more work, but it shouldn’t be a big problem.

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The main problem with having such collaboration artists instead of Artist Credits is, that all releases assigned to the (new) collaboration artist will no longer be shown in the discographies of the individual artists. Is this really what you want? I certainly don’t.

So as long as this problem is not resolved on MusicBrainz I’m against the creation of (new) collaboration artists (or against re-creating collaboration artists that have been split once we had Artist Credits implemented)


That’s an initially persuasive argument, but it doesn’t really make sense. It’s true that if an artist is a member of of duo whose name is “Artist A & Artist B”, then you won’t see the duo’s albums in the solo artists’ discographies. It’s equally true that if the artist is a member of a named duo, or indeed or any other group, then you won’t see the group’s albums in the solo artists’ discographies. Why treat that particular name format different from any other? It’s just a relatively small subset of a much larger question.

Back to the main question, then the body of work and the longevity of the relationship are usually indicators of which way to go. For example Spiers and Boden are a long-term duo with not only a large body of work, but also have a website for the duo and social media accounts for the duo distinct from their individual ones. Hence I would also add to the questions: if you were to split Nick Cave and Warren Ellis, what external links would be left behind? I don’t see much evidence there of a duo identity - the sources @brucey lists are all third-party ones.


Long-term collaborations of composers/songwriters don’t usually get their own artist entity on MusicBrainz. For example, the musical theatre writing team Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the songwriting partners commonly credited as Lennon–McCartney. Both duos have dedicated Wikipedia pages but on MusicBrainz are always credited as separate artists.

Since the collaboration of Cave and Ellis seems to primarily involve composing film scores, I think there’s precedent for crediting them as separate artists as @Alioth is doing.


Everything I’ve read about Nick Cave and Warren Ellis refers to them as “frequent collaborators,” never as a group name like Simon & Garfunkel, et al. They were both members of a group called Grinderman.

I agree with Alioth’s edit.


I added a yes vote as I see two individual artists performing together. Plus @chabreyflint has a very good point that would need to be fixed. There are “relationships” that would connect a group and its members, but that looses too much.

Also Nick Cave collaborates with other people too.


Here is the facebook page for “Nick Cave & Warren Ellis”:

and a website although it appears to have expired:

I couldn’t see an instagram account but there is a hastag:

I see a difference with songwriting partnerships such as Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lennon and McCartney in that these duos did not release albums or perform shows under these names (other artists/groups perform the works).

The argument about artists discographies cuts both ways. Unless their output is credited to the group name you cannot readily get a discography of releases by the group / duo. As has been mentioned, the existing Nick Cave discography does not include and Bad Seeds releases which surely is a very substantial part of any Nick Cave discography. I a nutshell, I don’t really understand why “Nick Cave & Warren Ellis” would be treated differently to “Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds”. I note that the Bad Seeds have their own MusicBrainz entry separate from “Nick Cave & …” so for consistency why wouldn’t all NC&BS releases be credited as collaborations? (I’m not advocating this!)


I suspect no-one will be very keen on this suggestion but I suppose it would be possible to credit releases to “Nick Cave” & “Warren Ellis” & “Nick Cave & Warren Ellis”

This is generally not accurate IMO. Here’s 2 examples of filtering to a specific artist credit: