Does inclusion of a digital booklet make a unique digital release?

Here is an interesting question that came up in my (very friendly) discussion with editor @StereJo down the edit notes of Ben Lukas Boysen’s Mirage.

This entry was created for the release hosted at Bandcamp but may serve as an umbrella for identical digital releases. StereJo attempted to upload a pdf-booklet in the digital release, which they acquired as a download from Qobuz. Since my Bandcamp download lacked the booklet, I interpreted this as a difference in artwork. Analogous to the situation in physical releases I guessed this warrants the creation of a new release. However, StereJo regards the booklet as an added value for an otherwise identical release (which it is: the track list and cover are the same). Therefore, they resist the creation of a new release.

I am not sure the guidelines provide sufficient clarity in this matter. Can the community advise in this case?

ETA: better phrasing


I don’t have strong feelings about this, but online releases are malleable enough that I typically prefer to only create different releases for major tracklist differences (e.g. song inclusion/exclusion, order, duration), and not for typos or formatting changes, bundled goodies, codec differences, etc.

The artist could presumably log into Bandcamp and add the booklet to the download at any time. Maybe he forgot to when he first uploaded the album there.

I’m probably grumpy about this because I just downloaded the MP3 version of Portal 2 Soundtrack: Songs to Test By from Steam, and despite there being 10 (!) different digital media releases in MB, I still couldn’t find one that correctly described what I have (MP3, 22 + 18 + 26). I went with the release with the “Steam FLAC” annotation since it at least had a tracklist that matched mine, but then I saw that one of its tracks had a typo (“Dont Do It”) due to an edit that changed the correctly-punctuated title to one containing what I suspect was a mistake that someone made when uploading the album to Steam. sigh

Okay, on second thought, maybe I do have strong feelings about this. :slight_smile:


I tend to agree with @derat. It is just the same digital release. Qobuz are not selling it as a “delux” or anything special. I’d also do it it that way to be nice to the people who bought it from Bandcamp.

It is not really an “artwork difference”, more of the addition of something extra.

But this is just my opinion… I expect you’ll find people with differences of thought on this one.

With the printed paperwork with CDs the little differences are often key to spotting editions from different years, different manufacturers, different markets. So I understand why that guideline is more fussy.


If it’s just the added Qobuz booklet, but the cover art, barcode and label, etc are all the same, I’d say still same release. That’s how they have been treated at least by me, and most editors of digital releases.


In general I would also agree to the previous opinions that it is no different release just because of the missing pdf booklet. But especially on Qobuz it could be that it is a HiRes release (e.g. 24 Bit, 48-384kHz). As those releases often have also a different mastering they sound different, so I’d say if it’s CD quality => same release, if it’s HiRes => different release.


I was on the fence with this for a while myself. However as others have explained, if the majority of “core” data such as UPC, main/front cover, etc. are the same, I consider it to be the same release these days.

What’s helped me is beginning to label the “cover” with it’s source, and other info such as track specific art if available in the “Comment” section.

This is also nice (to me at least) to be able to distinguish different digital storefront variations such as color issues without having to make a judgement call on what is “best”.

Each version has it’s own merits. Deezer is the highest resolution, while some editors only care for Apple Music/iTMS cover art, and the Spotify cover is a different color temperature. For the last one, some may have grown up with this variation and prefer it to the warmer versions.

Admittedly, that last part is a bit tangential from the initial point of this thread, but it’s helped me in the past with Picard as it is able to print the comments, and you can easily select which version you want without having to load the release page.


I don’t see the point in uploading three different sized images. Just add the best quality. Seeing that Spotify is not using the artwork as supplied to them is worrying… but not surprising.

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We no longer separate hi-res releases from standard releases unless the timing on the tracks are different. It’s gotten a lot harder with the addition of Apple Music having hi-res as well as Deezer & Amazon. Also, it’s been proven that many times the “hi-res” releases are nothing more than standard that are blown up to hi-res or vice-versa. Much like different store mastering, i.e. Apple Digital Masters & Tidal Masters are no longer separate either.

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Please don’t do this. They will just be deleted most likely when found. Just upload the highest resolution. No need to add Spotify, etc.

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Huh, could have sworn this was the middle ground you and I both specifically met when you commented on a few of my edits regarding cover art in the past.

I probably wouldn’t delete it if you had all the comments, etc. But it does just seem to be overkill. At least make the highest resolution one as the first front cover art, so that is what shows up in right corner.

Spotify maxes all their artwork at 640x640

Without derailing this thread, but for posterity, I do believe it is good to document variations across platforms, and in line with the spirit of MetaBrainz, which is (from my understanding) to document data regarding music. The Rachel Yamagata release is an edge (or worse, depending on how you look at it) case.

To reiterate, all 3 are added on the following grounds:

  1. Deezer has the highest resolution, which is not always the case.
  2. Some editors, such as yourself, have down-voted edits where Deezer cover art is added over Apple Music/iTMS. I do not state this to attack, but to present a real-world scenario.
  3. Spotify’s cover is markedly different than that of the other
  4. It is different on this specific platform, but I’m not sure we as MB contributors are the arbiters here. One person could say “well, the majority look like this”, and another could say “well, I’ve only seen the Spotify variation, so that’s the ‘real’ art to me”.

To be clear, I am not advocating that every release bear different cover art for each service. Not all releases are going to have this many variances across platforms, and thus would not have reason to be uploaded.

At the end of the day, it comes down to what is useful. As has been argued many times over, “best” is subjective. From my understanding, we are not at a dearth of storage space as we rely on the IA/CAA, and the labeling convention I presented indicates why multiple versions would exist.

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That does make sense. Your example there is good.

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From the looks of it I suspect that the Spotify version is different because some conversion process along the chain in the Spotify infrastructure stripped the color profile from the image. I don’t think this is artist intent and more of a platform bug.

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Nonetheless, I don’t see the harm in storing it?

I apply my general rule of thumb here: More data is always good if it’s clearly identified and entered correctly and doesn’t break anything. Nobody has to add it, but we shouldn’t yuck other peoples data yums. One person at least wants to identify that Spotify has a ‘platform bug’ in regards to this release cover.

Deezer often adjusts album art colours (more contrast, or similar) and I personally don’t add those covers. No time, and don’t particularly care! But if someone else wants to add them (clearly identified) then good for them, imo.


This topic appears to have attracted a good deal of feedback. Thanks everybody!

I believe the popular opinion has vindicated StereJo’s take on this issue. Glad to see that cleared up. Digital releases remain a bit of a hazy area for me, I’m afraid.

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I personally already make new releases for any change in artwork, including track artwork on Bandcamp or SoundCloud. I haven’t often come across a case where a digital booklet is the only difference (maybe because I don’t use Qobuz), but I personally might favor making a new release in this case (properly disambiguated, of course).

comparing it to a physical release for a moment, we would likely make a new release if the booklet was different, so I don’t see any reason not to do the same when there’s a whole new booklet which isn’t present on the otherwise matching streaming release.

that said, I could also see reason to put them together, as others have said above.

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