Barcode logic question

If we have a CD release, and there is no barcode on the CD, we mark it as such… no barcode. However, with a digital release, if there is no barcode in the release metadata, effort is placed to locate a barcode from the/a retailer. Why is this logic not consistent?

I am sure that the retailer selling a CD without a barcode as a barcode for it in their system. While this might not be common, I have examples of this where I purchase a CD at a local music store and there is no barcode on the product.

For the physical release, because the release has no barcode, we state no barcode. Why is this different for digital releases? Not looking to argue, but why the rules change.

There is no rule change. The product is the streaming service release or site where you download it from. All major digital retailers have fairly easy ways to find the barcodes. And they almost all require them. They have barcodes, they just might not be as visible without checking the “view-source” or API.


This I am not sure I agree with. The product is the recording that is streamed or download, not the service or site.

Just as retailers require a barcode for digital media, the same is true for CDs though. This is the difference I mean.

Say I download an iTunes release, and the iTunes store ID changes, making the store site it was purchased from invalid. There is no longer any reference to that barcode, as the store page was required to get it, since it was not a part of the release, it was a part of the store, no different than a store’s label on the shelf of a store. It is part of the retail process, but not part of the product.

I am again only trying to understand the logic, so please do not take me countering with mine negative.

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On digital releases, the streaming sites are the release. Many are now streaming only. If you purchase the release you have to purchase it from the site that a barcode is linked. Releases are no longer only things that you can own, unfortunately. So, I think that sometimes gets blurred, but a release on Apple Music that is only there to listen to has a barcode and if it matches the same release that you can purchase there (on their pages, they’ll have a streaming option or a go to iTunes store and purchase link) they are the same release. We don’t separate them out. Are you sure they aren’t in the metadata at all? I know they have been. So, in that regard I see what you mean about having to check the site where it’s from and not just the purchased downloaded product.

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The website might be the packaging of a digital release, but you’re right, it is a bit inconsistent: By analogy with physical products - if there’s no barcode displayed, then there’s no barcode printed on it and should logically be “no barcode” :slight_smile:


Sometimes they are, and sometimes they are not. I have not seen a barcode in iTunes files, I do not think ever. Others, yes.

It would be my opinion to agree with a barcode when it is in the metadata. To me, at that point, it is part of the release. Otherwise, I feel that if you need to query the store for more info, it is not part of the release. Using say the iTunes API to get data is like calling Walmart and asking for the barcode in their system.

I 100% agree that streaming is a different ball game. Please note that I refer only to digital media as it relates to a file you can acquire. Streaming is not something I have any interest in at all, as the value of this data changes for me. I understand that others feel different, and I wish to not get involved in that.

On that topic, is there a solid guideline on the difference between the iTunes product vs the Apple Music product? Is that the same release, or is that two different releases? I could not even guess if the barcodes match, you might know this. In that realm, the barcode is simply only something I can get via further research, it is not a deliverable.

My opinions on that might change, but I have yet to find any recording I cannot acquire a copy of in some form. I do however could see a future where there is no longer a product you can own in some form, but at that point, I believe we will be using more a radio service than a concept of owning a product. I can then stream what I want, when I want, so there is no need to “own”. LOL! Well, maybe, I cannot predict the future. I do not see record companies dropping revenue sources, so I believe they will do whatever it takes to make money.

This is how I see it, but this is my perspective, which by no means is any better than anyone else’s…

The CD’s package is the case/artwork. The digital media package is the container. For example, iTunes has AAC autio in an MP4 container. The AAC holds the music, like the CD, and the container (the M4A file) holds the artwork in its metadata, like the CD case holds the printed material. The iTunes store page is the retailer, like the physical retail store. Anything in the website code or API is the same as the stickers on the shelves of the store and the data in the store’s database.

I thought about the website presentation as cover and booklet. The container would be the disc with the metadata as what’s printed on it :laughing:

But metadata should be included as a source!
And they are really rare. More often there’s a copyright notice or “visit bandcamp…”

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Yes, especially the (p) copyright. iTunes also includes the “vendor” followed by the ISRC. The vendor (label) in this case does not match what MB considers to be a label however. But, I am still unsure where to find the imprint on the back of my digital file :rofl:

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We can add stuff to a physical release even it’s not on the packaging. Missing artists, relationships, etc.

I think of this as more of: ‘why not add the barcode when it helps people find a release and the field is there’

By the way it also used to irk me that we were adding stuff I couldn’t see, but now that I have more experience and can see how they make things findable, help to differentiate different releases (including across store-fronts, which can be hard to navigate), and how easy they are to surface with the right tools, I have done a 180.


I agree with this, but these aspect will not change. The artists that performed on the recording will be there and the same until the recording is redone. So this is static data. Same with a relationship, like a (p) holder for the year 2020. That is there and remains there as it relates to that year. Meaning that no matter where I purchase it, and whether digital or physical, those are there.

I am not sure how a barcode helps someone find a release though… when it is not part of the release I would have in hand (the metadata). If I need to lookup the store to get the barcode, the barcode is useless in helping me find the store, as one is needed for the other, a circular logic. I am however, digesting all you are saying and trying to put the pieces together in my mind.

If a digital release has been put out on a new barcode, it is a new release. So it is static.

And both usually don’t happen without reason - different label, different (c), different tracks, different regions (licensing)… just as useful to have a potential difference in digital release earmarked as it is for a long list of similar CD’s.

We aren’t exclusively a “files on your computer” database (though that is part of it, for sure).
If a digital release has a barcode it helps me find/differentiate it online, and I use it often.


Agreed. This is why I mention prior that I speak in reference to digital only as it relates to tangible product, not streaming. It is an area I do not deal with, at least for now. I have yet to find any release that I need or want I cannot get a real copy of, so to me, streaming is simply a modern radio.

I cannot speak, nor do I wish to, on how people want to catalog streaming releases. My view makes me too bias as I am not a user, so it is no my place to provide input there. People who use them will know better what is useful and what is not with streaming.

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I don’t stream btw… my comments are for releases/stores that are primarily for download as well.

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Interesting. I have yet to find a barcode of any use in looking up digital releases in MB for any reason. Could you walk me through how you use them? I bet I would understand far better if I could see how it is used.

I suspect your sources of digital files are also different than mine, but unsure. It seems you are used to seeing a barcode in metadata, which I would like to understand more.

Honestly, I find the MB too confusing with digital releases. In all times I tried to use it for partial tagging, there were all these versions with different this and that, and none of the this and that was in my release. So if I wanted to fully tag my release, I would have no idea which was correct or not. All of the data I have to identify it is not a part of how MB differentiates them, so for me, there is a conflict of data I can use in hand and data I cannot in the DB. Again, this is from my perspective, in my use.

I never said that…

I know which storefront my copy came from, hence I can tag it. MusicBrainz and Picard improve my file metadata.

If you’re not interested in adding new/specific metadata to the files there’s no point in matching it in Picard at all?

Ok, I see I misunderstood. I was believing you used this data to identify your releases, but you are using this data to add to your releases.

When it comes to digital releases, my interest is to have the metadata that came with it. It is my opinion that changing the metadata is like drawing, writing, crossing out, etc on a CDs booklet, then using that booklet to show something that I changed is correct. Just as a booklet is left original, in the same form it was provided, I leave my metadata the best I can the same.

When I wish to store additional data, I will store this in the folder of my files. As a Linux user and NFO file hater, I create a file named “info”, no extension, and store additional data there. When using software (I use Mixxx a lot as Serato does not run on Linux), I do not write info to tags, but store it in the database. This is just my preference, as I view the metadata as important release information. The only real exception is tagging a RIP of a CD, but the RIP is not a “release” anyway, but a copy of a release, so it does not matter and nothing has been altered.


I usued to do that until 2 years ago when I started editing on MB. Now I write everything (including ratings) to tags and KODI reads the files and updates its database.
(…and also Linux only on all of my systems! :+1:)


I used Kodi in the past, but no longer use it since it became bloatware. I must admit though I never used it for audio, only for video. They may have addressed and reversed this in recent versions though.

Honestly, I do not think it so bad if the tags written are clearly not originally supplied tags. Like how MB clearly identifies their tags as MB tags, I appreciate that practice although I do not use them. I am more paranoid than anything, if something writes to my tags, I need to trust that 1) there is no issue/error in the code that may do something not intended and 2) that I have properly set all possible settings that might result in unintended writes.

I have not done this yet, but I am looking at Daphile for my music. I am just not convinced I need such a thing yet.

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Fascinating - I think that’s a really cool way to store the files (unchanged), but FYI that’s not a common use case.

Most people add to MusicBrainz so they can tag their library with Picard, so that will be the usual assumption as to why you’re interested in adding a release to MB :blush:
(Until you’ve been here a while, which you have, and then editing for editings sake becomes more of a thing!)