Good day, I’ve been cutting my teeth on MB the past few days by filling out the catalog of an artist who is primarily digital and streaming focused and have ran into a few uncertainties between how the system is designed, the interpreted Guidelines, and general community feelings.
The root of my issue is that these artists will self-publish their works in a very specific naming style to vendors like soundcloud, bandcamp or even youtube, while a distributor submits their work to much larger platforms, which may enforce a level of grammatical correctness or additions to their works.
My interpretation of how this should be handled is as follows:
“Release Group” naming should be standardized on the Style Guidelines.
The way I see it, this is by design, prioritizing sane search-ability and human readability in the Database over accurate cataloging.
The “Releases” themselves should ideally be per-vendor and match their written listing style.
Realistically, there may only end up being two user submissions in most cases highlighting style accuracy vs correctness between vendors.
This allows users accustomed to these vendors to share the same experience in their personal collections.
Are either of these acceptable guidelines to follow in this case?
do you have any specific examples you’re thinking of? i’m not sure exactly what you mean (not your fault, i’m just dumb), but i think i have a decent idea.
personally, i tend to prioritize the Bandcamp/YouTube/SoundCloud naming conventions for release groups, as that’s when they have the most control over the stylization of their titles. as an example, DistroKid previously forced me to title-case my own albums and artist name, which i hate a lot lol, so my release groups use the Bandcamp title case (all caps).
i can see the argument for having the release group use the title most adhering to the style guidelines for readability purposes. however, i’d personally like the artist view (again using myself as an example) to reflect how the artist would most like to see their music.
[sorry if this message is even more nonsensical than my usual… i’m on a particularly grating call at work right now]
The personal example you gave is the correct one. The artist I’ve been filling out exclusively (for the last 6 years) uses lowercase in their own personal uploads, and Spotify/Deezer follow this for most releases while Apple Music is on the opposite end, hardly following it for any releases.
In my opinion, neither of these are wrong, so my intention is to find a middle-ground that best serves the artists, the Database itself including those editing it, and the end-users.
Honestly I could go either way with the first point as well, whether its flipped like this to prefer Artist Intent, or even including exceptions. I’m not particularly opinionated in how MB should interface with it’s own users. The reason I defaulted to this was because it’s not end-user facing, seems less ambiguous for a Database, and follows the Guidelines to some degree. It was primarily included here as an example for having something more stable akin to a Physical Release while allowing for more free-form titling on the Releases themselves.
I don’t personally worry at all about the particular standardizations from every different vendor (which I believe is true for many other editors), as they’ve each got their own rules and guides. an obvious and common example is Spotify will have a track titled “Discord - The Living Tombstone Remix”, whereas Deezer and Apple Music will have the same track titled “Discord (The Living Tombstone Remix)”… I tend to ignore the Spotify title in these cases (and there are many), and put the remix text (in parentheses), as is typically done on MusicBrainz and across the music industry
Apple Music I feel overstandardizes their titles, so for this reason, I usually use the titles from Deezer, which is usually less standardized (a plus in my book), or if applicable, I might use the same titles from the artists’ Bandcamp, SoundCloud, or YouTube (especially if the artist is consistent across multiple different platforms), tho in the latter case, I’d recommend noting in the annotation that the track/release titles aren’t as given on the vendors’ pages.
to answer your interpretations directly:
I don’t typically standardize anything from an artist’s Bandcamp and very little from SoundCloud, save for maybe removing “(Single)” or “(Album)” from a release/release group title, standardizing punctuation (changing an apostrophe ' to ’, for instance), and of course moving featured artists (or “feat.”) to the artist field. if an artist says to CAPSLOCK THE ALBUM, I’ll leave it CAPSLOCKED.
I don’t believe many editors will split albums based solely on vendors, and there’s very many who will merge these split releases. in general, digital releases are split on a few main factors (not an exhaustive list):
different tracks in the tracklist/different order of tracks
different cover art (which I usually include extra cover art here, like Bandcamp or SoundCloud track art)
different UPC/EAN (or barcode, yes digital releases do often have one)
change of cover art (some editors will split these and either leave the release date blank or try and figure when the art was changed, this is fairly easy on Bandcamp)
different label (including self-released as a seperate label, which would be attached to the [no label] label)
factors that don’t typically mean a seperate release is needed
different vendor (Spotify, Deezer, Apple Music, Tidal, etc.)
different release country
looking at your edit history, I take it guardin the artist you’re filling out?~ looking pretty good so far~
Thanks! Looking through the discussions, I could find bits and pieces of the kind of info you provided, but generally nothing this complete (even if non-exhaustive) or directed at this specific niche. A list of “Here is where we’re currently at and the differences that we DO track” for this is exactly what I was looking for.
I would like to make a few notes, purely for clarification, there are cases of:
No barcode present on seemingly-identical releases that do have identical barcodes elsewhere, even among only the larger vendors.
No label provided on any of the Artist’s personal uploads, although present on larger vendors.
Given the medium is generally first experienced by its user-base on these platforms, whether to further consider end-users and allow for both options seems like a worthwhile question.
Many of your past posts, and this specific post by @teethfairy, were particularly insightful (thanks!) in how MB functions around this, and spurred me to raise my questions in this thread for the current year.
Haha, thanks for changing your vote! After making so many sweeping additions to the page that were accepted automatically, I didn’t expect an edit on something already mis-aligned with the style guide and it’s previously listed counterparts to trigger a public request for voting on such a niche page. Knowing this, I will of course be keeping up better with my Edit Notes for the sake of providing better context to the public eye.
I know of only a few vendors who reveal an item’s barcode on the page, sometimes it’s hidden in the page source, the API, or other places. a-tisket will reveal the barcode on the services it supports tho~ unless shown otherwise, I’ll group other major streaming/download services (Amazon Music, Tidal, etc.) with the a-tisket imported release
this (in my opinion) would be a reason to split releases here. I could see an exception made for cases where the name of the Bandcamp/SoundCloud page is that of an artist’s personal label (for example, Mumble Etc and their Bandcamp), but that doesn’t seem to be the case here
I want to say around 10 of the 50-odd releases I listed had a-tisket complaining that Apple (who is also the larger offender of standerdizing their titles) had either a missing barcode and/or label, while Deezer/Spotify had it every time. Although a-tisket even complains that Apple are unreliable for these things if you only use Apple as the source.
For what it’s worth, I looked up multiple works of 6 artist of my interest on Soundcloud, and only half the artists had any label (on page or in source) filled out; one of them being self-titled. I then went and opened the 12 trending songs in the community on the front page of Soundcloud (all with massive amounts of views,) 4 of them did not have a label, and 8 did. All 18 had a presence on Deezer/Spotify with their labels provided.
Absolutely, I think if there were a formalized proposal around this type of thing in the future, it would ultimately come down to “if any difference can be sourced, it should be recorded.” I believe a rework of the MB UI allowing a single “Release” of this type to hold several differences between sources would best accompany it.