No. There’s a core difference between physical releases and non-physical ones: physical are limited in their form by nature, while non-physical can potentially take an infinite number of forms.
As explained elsewhere, we may store information about where to find a “digital” release in one format or another, but if we create one release per digital format it will be a useless bloat, only complicating work of editors without any added value.
Currently some digital releases providers offer them in ~10 different digital formats, but in the future this will just increase, as new formats appear, until, eventually, one format rules them all.
Comparing HDCD and CD to FLAC and MP3 makes no sense to me, especially when many FLACs sold were converted from MP3s (which is a shame, i agree), and many MP3s are generated from lossless formats.
Physical releases are limited in their forms, manufacturing, distribution, possibilities are limited, which makes it more or less manageable for editors.
Now, if an album is available in various digital formats, with exact same tracklist, using same “master” (it can be a CD, which contains digital data in lossless format), i guess users may want to know where to find it as OGG, WAV, FLAC, or whatever they prefer, there’s no question about the fact MB needs to store such info somewhere.
It can be as simple as extended relationships like:
- can be downloaded [as <insert list of digital formats> ] from <insert digital store>
- can be streamed [as <insert list of digital stream formats>] from <insert digital stream source>
Limiting duplication of data is mandatory if we want to keep control over it, MB is human-based, things need to be human-manageable.
Also MP3 or FLAC don’t fully describe what they are, compression parameters do too, i guess we don’t want one “medium” (as defined in MB at the moment) for each possible MP3 or FLAC format. The media list is very long already, just with physical ones.
About “digital releases” i see many more issues:
- changes in tracklist over the time (since they are digital, altering the tracklist is very easy, and it happens a lot, artists or labels reordering tracks after release, or even adding/removing some, changing titles, etc)
- a release can contain a physical medium and a digital one (CD+download), but relationships are to the release atm
- cover art can change for the same album over the time (it happens a lot too on Bandcamp)
- barcodes / catnos / labels / release dates / countries don’t have the same importance, and aren’t always easy to figure
- digital releases have no size and/or duration limitation, a 10k tracks release is perfectly possible (and legit), a title of 50k characters too