Band changed name from / to relationship (successor bands?) [MBS-12295]


MBS-12295 has again brought up the issue of bands that “evolve” into another, keeping the members. The historical way to deal with this has been “just link the members and that’s enough to tell”, but I’m not sure this is working well enough for us (notice that for the given example incorrect “legal name” relationships have been added to mark this since there’s no correct relationship, and I’ve seen this happen before).

Do people think that a relationship such as “changed name to” or “evolved into” or something would make sense? And if so, what would be a good limit between “same band, but alias” and “two bands with changed name relationship”? Just whether the band discography includes all names? Keep together unless there’s significant proof that they’re considered different?


I am for it (obviously, since I created the request!).

Of course, you can’t control how people are going to use the feature, but the consensus should simply be if a band says they changed name, then it can be used. I have dozens of examples to start out with. These are all situations where the band specifically announced they were changing name (due to stylistic/genre changes or after considerable line-up changes, or for legal purposes, whatever their reason my be).

Sharp Young Men - MusicBrainz (1981-1982)
Faith. No Man. - MusicBrainz (1982-1983)
Faith No More - MusicBrainz (1983-now)

As Friends Rust - MusicBrainz (1996-2002)
Salem - MusicBrainz (2002-2005)
Currents - MusicBrainz (2005-2007)

Boize - MusicBrainz (1989-1993)
Emissary - MusicBrainz (1993-1996)
Breaking Violet - MusicBrainz (1996-1999)

Split Lip - MusicBrainz (1990-1996)
Chamberlain - MusicBrainz (1996-2000)

Enkindel - MusicBrainz (1992-1997)
The Enkindels - MusicBrainz (1997-2001)

Pezz - MusicBrainz (1993-1996)
Billy Talent - MusicBrainz (1996-now)

On a Friday - MusicBrainz (1985-1991)
Radiohead - MusicBrainz (1991-now)

I think it’s an important documentative relationship. It also saves people having to click 3 times through members’ pages to get to the new band name.


If this is just the relationship, but keeps the two artists separate, then it is a good idea and I know a few examples too. Would get a Yes vote from me.

I would think part of the key here for “alias or rename relationship” would be how the band themselves treat their past projects. I don’t know many on that example list, but “Radiohead” don’t treat their “On a Friday” school band as part of discography, but it would be good to be easy to find with a clear history link.


:+1:t2: from me.

The use case seems similar to the “renamed into” relationship for labels. I think “changed name” makes more sense than “evolved into”, as the latter feels a bit nebulous.


I’m not sure I understand the question - isn’t this already covered currently? Does adding a relationship change anything?

“…that they consider different projects”

Though I guess that’s referring to multiple projects by the same person/people, simultaneously, I guess.

But I think it can expand to cover this. Maybe with some specific notes re. stuff like whether to split bands that renamed for legal reasons etc

Yeah, that’s intended for people but it can probably be extended. I just want to make sure we avoid having a situation where somebody tries to split A Silver Mt. Zion - MusicBrainz into 5 artists or whatnot :slight_smile:

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The general situation we’re trying to encapsulate here is never going to fit neatly into a box, so I think it’s best to avoid bikeshedding and just add a relationship that covers (what I assume to be) the most common and well defined event. @hds provided plenty of examples of this and I can think of a few others of the top of my head.

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I worry that introducing this relationship will degrade the usefulness of singular MBIDs for artists.

One example: The band Infinity Shred was originally known as “Starscream”, but were forced to change their name (after publishing multiple notable releases) for legal reasons. Notably, there was no abrupt style change with the name (but gradually after that), so I think it really should not be considered a new artist entity.

There have been attempts in the past to split this artist entry into two, which would lead to filtering by MBID showing two separate discographies. For an example outside of the core MusicBrainz web interface where this can be papered over to a certain degree with a prominent link, one might imagine a music player that groups artists by their MBIDs. I was against this now, and I would worry that having this relationship would lead to people splitting artists for minor changes all the time.

In my opinion the existing solution with the alias marked as ended is sufficient, although it could be improved by e.g. showing non-search-hints more prominently on an artist overview page.


But the new relationship can be useful when there is a big member change at the same time of the name change.
Or when there is a group splitting to two successor groups.
Things like that.

We have the choice between artist credit or two artists, on case by case.


But if there is a big change, then it’s probably a new project and not a new name.
And if there’s no change, it would unnecessarily split the artist. I don’t know of any of the above cases, but I do know some where it would not be good to use this relationship.

@elomatreb shows why we need to always have both Alias and this new Relationship. Some bands are clearly the same with a name change (like Infinity Shred) whereas others like On A Friday and Radiohead are separate but very related.

This is always going to lead to arguments whichever solution is chosen. Artists don’t like fitting in neat boxes that are database compliant. :laughing:

I don’t believe this relationship is about changing any current artists, more about a better link between some that are related.


I’m reminded of a band local to my area, Quarterflash. Originally formed as “Seafood Mama,” they released a single on a local label, which caught the attention of Geffen Records. They chose a new name, Quarterflash, when they signed with the label.

It seems to me that the most intuitive approach would be to add start/stop dates to the artist name. I presume that ability would exist for this new relationship, but it would seem to be less intuitive to make a name change a relationship.

The “alias” kinda does this, but then you have to decide, should the artist name be the original, and all name changes become aliases, or should the artist name be the current, and all past names are aliases? Or, the most well-known name (according to whom?), and all past/later names as aliases?

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I’ve been thinking about a couple of related issues recently while doing edits: side-projects and aliases for anonymous musicians. The existing alias relationship works, but the “legal name” label isn’t right.

Side-projects would be when bands share the same members, but exist at the same period as the main band rather than being renamed. Examples: Dee Gees and Foxboro Hot Tubs.

For solo artists, the usual solution is to use annotations, but this can be tricky to use and each alias needs to be manually updated. Often editors just use the existing performance relationship using a primary alias as the main profile. This is a solution that already exists and works. The only problem is the label of “legal name”. The subject was recently brought up here.

I could see either adding a new relationship that doesn’t use the “legal name” label or an option on the existing relationship to change the label to something other than “legal name”.


I added a relationship now:


This describes a situation where an artist (generally a group) changed its name, leading to the start of a new project.


The start and end dates should contain the date the rename occurred. The same date should be used in both fields, as an artist is not “renamed” over a period of time.

Only use this relationship if the artists should be kept separate to begin with (meaning they’re generally considered separate projects with separate discographies). If the discography is the same, but the artist changed names, use aliases and artist credits for the same one artist entity.

It is acceptable to use this relationship if there was some degree of member change during the rename of a group but the new group is generally understood to be a direct successor to the previous one. Do not use the relationship in cases where a group split into two or more groups, especially if both claim to be the direct successors, since by definition neither of them can then be “the same but under a new name”.

Hopefully the description + guidelines make it clear enough this is not an excuse to start splitting artists which are generally considered the same. Happy to hear any suggestions on improvements if something here seems problematic :slight_smile:


Is there an advice that could be told, for these cases?

Well, IMO that’s already a case where all there is is “X’s members are now part of Y and Z”, so normal group membership should work, really.

I doubt most of these examples are different projects as required by the new relationship’s guidelines. Shouldn’t most of these be merged into the same MB Artist, and only use Artist Credits to change the name?

For example,

On 21 December 1991, On a Friday signed a six-album recording contract with EMI.[10][15] At EMI’s request, the band changed their name; “Radiohead” was taken from the song “Radio Head” on the Talking Heads album True Stories (1986).[10]
Radiohead - Wikipedia

I don’t see any reason why these should remain separate MB Artists?


I don’t see why the guideline example of all things, Radiohead, should be kept separate either.
There was a merge attempt but it was apparently merely downvoted for the lack of artist credits (filtering).

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If the new band name does not consider the old band name’s releases as part of their canon, then obviously the new band doesn’t want to be linked with the old band name’s releases. They changed name for a reason, usually to avoid the affiliation with the old band name’s releases and style. They shouldn’t be merged. It’s just part of accepting an artist’s artistic integrity.