Cover art adding and release matching

A few recent discussions got me thinking more on this. It was explained to me the value of adding notes to cover art ads.

  1. Most, or many, CDs already exist in MB, so when cover art is being added, it is often to update an existing release. While I understand the value of placing the image source, I still believe that there is a point of error on matching to the proper release which needs checking.

If I grab one of my CDs, see it is in MB, and want to add cover art as there is none there (or just a cover), I need to verify things sometimes down to the only difference being something like a country of printing. While I have no problem stating the source of artwork, I would not want my stating of source to reduce the chances of review.

I believe it does make sense however that an artwork add with notes does show that the editor placed at least some sort of effort into the matching, vs just tossing it there and being done.

  1. In my own efforts of this, I sometimes find it difficult to match the CD, as there are some releases that have a large number of variations, often containing a large amount of discids as well. Does anyone have suggestions on how to improve on this process? It seems it is a matter of experience that will do it, understanding how the MB system works and what data to look for, but maybe someone has other ideas or methods they use?

I do not think this is as much an issue with digital releases, as there is usually only front cover art, not the back, inserts and CD which often differentiate two otherwise same releases.

  1. With digital releases, I would assume the preferred method is to get the cover art from the source/reference. So if I have an iTunes release, the artwork should come from iTunes, either the store or the files themselves. This is not always possible as digital releases often include reference across multiple vendors. Has anyone experienced issues with the cover art being different between the sources? I have little to no experience with the materials from Spotify, Deezer, etc, so I want to be aware of any potential issues.

  2. In relation to barcodes, I recently added a release where the barcode was stated to be invalid when I entered it. I believe this to be a difference of scanned vs printed. However, when I tried to scan the barcode, none of the scanners I tried were able to detect it as valid. Does anyone have insight on this?

If there are differences in the cover art, it’s a new release, same as with physical releases (With similar exceptions using your common sense, e.g. a store applying automated watermarking, scaling, or other technical artifacts does not create a “new” cover, just like how a physical cover with a coffee stain is not a new release).


Yes, agreed. In regard to that point, I am just unaware if some vendors have different artwork. For example, a BMG CD might not have a barcode and a different catalog number, being specific only to that store.

Example, I know that DMC has a release with two different artwork covers for the same release. Same everything… item (catalog) number and all. Why it is different, I do not know. I can share if anyone is interested in what I mean. I assume it would be a different release given that, dunno.

I put up too much artwork and also a bit fussy. Some of my thoughts when I am assessing a CD I have in hand based on what I have learnt over the years:

  • If there is anything already shown, I compare the rears in detail. Rears can especially change a lot between years and markets.
  • Look for those “Made in country” details on a CD. Or the Rights Societies (BIEM\MCPS\STREMA)
  • Check the Discogs links. Also note if Discogs have lots of variations, then expect the copy you have in hand to be potentially another variation.
  • Get the Discogs Import script as this is much more than just an import tool. It covers discogs pages in pink dots to link into MusicBrainz.
  • With the above in place you can do detailed searches on Discogs which combine catno, barcode and matrix details in one search phrase. Then see if there is a link back to MB.
  • Some older releases have dozens of discIDs. A side effect of the older way CDs were handled. In many cases most of these are not relevant to that release (a different conversation)
  • Read edit histories and assess if this seems to be one specific release or a mixture.
  • If there is nothing exact in place, and it matches your barcode\catno and everything you see - update it.
  • If in doubt, make a new release.

I find a fresh release is sometimes the clearest way. The new release is then one clean set of consistent data.

In my early days, if I saw something that matched cat no, barcode, country then I would twist it to the release I had in hand. Now I find it is often clearer just to make a fresh new release with a single DiscID. It is then easier to show the specific differences of that CD I have in hand. Manufacturing differences, price codes, other oddities.


If a barcode is unreadable, then note it in the annotation and jsut use the number written underneath. I often find this happens with concert bootlegs.

This is the specific one in question:

What I do is that I mostly edit specific details for releases I have in hands, this way I don’t have many such problems.

I don’t always have time to edit so I have many generic catch-all releases in my collection, that have slightly different artwork and many disc IDs, because they were added pre-NGS, when all editions with same tracklist were a single release with several release events (country, date, label, catalogue number, barcode).

But when I have time, I clone them and build my specific edition.

And I don’t lose time with digital. :wink:

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I see both sides of this. I also have difficulty identifying the release I have as there are so many variations I cannot really tell the differences easily. I do however like the idea of not having a pile of disc IDs on the release.

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I usually do the same, however, I have recently had releases where there is not enough to really understand the differences. With Discogs in the references, that usually helps a lot. However, I had one the other day that had like 240 different versions. Too much to look through each of them to find what I am looking for.

This is the opinion I have started to develop. I will add them when I have them, and add cover art when not there, but I wish not to participate in the oddities that are happening with them.

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I would love for this to become an official thing. Somewhere to hang those dozens of pre-NGS discIDs on the vague “looks close enough” edition.

I sometimes feel a little guilty when setting up a fresh Release due to spotting all the little details on my CD in hand.

I am more than happy to help share my tricks to spotting them. I have much too much of an eye for details now. Trained up from MB and Discogs. :rofl:

This is where you can be clever with Discogs search. Their clever search is one of the best things they have. Put LOTS of text into the search box. Barcode catno price codes “made in country” on CD. Just keep adding to that search box to reduce the list of results to something manageable.

When it is down to a dozen, I find I can open up a dozen pages and look at the CD images or Rears and soon get it narrowed down. Then I check to see if there is a little pink “link to MB” on the Release or not.

I don’t use Release Country searches on discogs as they are too inaccurate and they like deleting UK from their options.

(Try finding a copy of “The Dark Side of the Moon” on discogs!! That is legendry for having over 1000 versions over there :rofl:)


Ah that is so bad it is FUN!! :rofl: :crazy_face:

Have added some notes. No wonder the bar code didn’t read. It is a really bad photoshopped image which even gets the apostrophe’s upside down.

We could made a game of Spot the Difference with that image.


I haven’t had many digital releases with the same barcode have different artwork, maybe like, 2 or 3 of the 100 or more I’ve added. A-tisket is your friend here, to pull the barcode (and ISRCs from Spotify) from the API. it’ll also let you pull the full-size artwork much more easily~

Ahh, I see. This explains why I could not match it to anything. At least I was able to realize something was not right and made a new release for it. I must be honest… while I do look at details, I have not really looked for “fraud”. I will need to start doing that.

Based on this, I think bootleg is most appropriate. The issues you pointed out are just too glaring to be a true legit piece.

EDIT: Changed to bootleg.

Please over share. No information is too much information.

The Discogs importer script @IvanDobsky mentioned is most helpful to do so. It helps even if there’s no MB link symbol on matching release you’ve found, you can exclude all releases which are already linked to Discogs releases. If nothing specified for an existing release contradicts my release, I take it and make it my release. But if there’s anything different, a set discID or any small difference, I create a new one. It’s easier to merge than to separate.


This is the key here. You could see it was different to the rest.

In that edit note I added a few bits about how I worked it out. After the barcode search came up with a different release on Discogs I searched for “cdp 7 46972 2 didx 1859” from the rear to get it down to a small set. And soon saw a pattern on the rear covers of EMI Manhattan releases - especially that missing logo.

Then nipped back to MB to look for a REAL EMI Manhattan USA release to find a good rear cover to compare to.

Once both images were up on screen it was a fun comedy of spotting so many errors.

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As you see, some days I am happy to type a huge heap of text on here. (I know I am crazy like that :crazy_face:) I like to share knowledge as I learn more that way. But the forum specifically tells me off for typing too many replies, and I know it annoys some people. So I get worried I over do it some days.

I’ll keep replying while I am still being asked. :rofl:

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Yes. I can see my mistakes here quite easily. I was paying too much attention to what the words said vs looking at the words.

I have realized I need to look more at scripts, as it seems that using a script is a common answer to many of my queries. The only scripts I use aside from the TOC submitter (I can see the code so I know what it is doing) are two authored by jesus2099, which only change what I see on the screen. In the back on my mind… all I can think is … automated tool to add data = what errors did I just introduce to the database and did not see.


What MB is missing is a KB. One where as questions are asked in the forums here and answers come in, ones of relevance can be added, along with the core content of the replies. While all of this is searchable, it would be quite nice to see the question and answer in short form, getting right to the summary of the answer.

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Not your mistake. You were correct to add a new release. The mistakes were all in the bootleggers hands. Such a slap-dash job done on that rear cover. But this is what makes it interesting.

With the Discogs script - you don’t need to use it to import. It is what does to a Discogs page that is so GOOOD. It make a Discogs page a reference to MB. Every Release, Every Name, Every Artist, Engineer, Label all get little pink links back to MB.

It makes Discogs a reference to MB.