Does subtype Live apply to “Live” studio sessions?

Many albums from jazz label Smoke Sessions Records have an annotation like “Recorded Live April 5, 2016 at Sear Sound, Studio C, New York City.” I think they mean that all the musicians performed simultaneously, without overdubs. There is no coughing, clapping, or glass dropping that would signal the presence of an audience.

Does the release group subtype Live apply to these?


If it was recorded in a studio without an audience, I don’t think it’s a live release.


Well the docs say it’s for things “recorded live”, without specifying the need fir an audience, so I would say yes (mention that annotation line in the edit note). Do set a recorded-at relationship to the studio.

When linking to works, I’m less confident about the appropriateness of the “live” marker. If you use it, make sure you also have a “live, in the studio” (or similar) disambig on the recordings.

Just realized you seem to be talking about existing releases. I’m not sure I’d change them. Adding recording date and location via relationships, if not already done, would always be good though.

@reosarevok Maybe it would make sense to adjust the docs to explicitly mention whether or not live-in-the-studio counts as live for MB’s purposes?

For me a “live studio recording” doesn’t make much sense. IMHO a live performance is when I perform directly to entertain a potential audience which is present at the performance. If I record this, it is called a live recording. A random recording of me in the rehearsal room or studio is not a live recording.


I think the idea of live here is definitely “to an audience”. The only place we define it at all is the Performance rel though.

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It’s just a tricky one to get defined right. I would at the very least expect a recording of a sound check, where a performance is identical to that at the later concert other than a lack of audience, to be as “live” as a recording of that concert.

Also, define “audience”. If there’s 10 people (other than performers/engineers/…) in the studio while the recording happens, does that make it live? If not, then a concert recording where only 10 people show up would also not be live, would it.

So at its base, what I think is always going to be required for a live recording:

  1. a) all parts performed and recorded at the same time (I’d add mixed, but many live albums have mixing applied later), or
    b) the “main” performance(s) (typically vocals, but could also be a solo trumpetist etc) are live, but there is a prerecorded backing track.
  2. no “postproduction” other than mixing/mastering (no adding extra tracks, no “polishing up” of vocals, …)

The presence of an audience (whether physical or via broadcast/streaming) to me would not matter much for 1a, but would strengthen the 1b case.

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I think there is always an amount of post-production, even with released concert registrations. So that wouldn’t be a very good requirement.

I also think that a performance for the radio which is directly broadcast should count as live, even if there is no audience in the studio. Maybe it should simply be a case of the listeners of a performance being able to follow the end-product in real time or with minimal delay (like a few seconds), whether they are in the same room as the musicians or tuning in to the radio or TV. There will always be edge cases, but edge cases are better decided with common sense and case by case than with a guideline.


It’s very informative because there is a whole lot of difference between a live studio recording and the usual studio recording where each track (each instrument or voice) is recorded both separately and in multiple bits with many takes per bit and then they assemble back each best bit — they fix the tuning for bad singers, they erase mistakes etc. — and then eventually mix tracks.
Live recording (all musicians and vocalists together in one take) is completely something else, more real, more spontaneous, more emotions, etc.


Sure it is something different if you record all musicians together or each instrument separately. But before there was multi-track recording this was the usual way of recording in the studio, and according to Wikipedia it was not uncommon to record the entire ensemble until even the 1970s. Still those are studio recordings and very different from what you usually refer to as a “live” recording (you usually don’t repeat a “bad take” when playing live).

Also having a live recording does not prevent heavy editing. Of course it is more difficult to edit, but e.g. Rust never Sleeps by Neil Young & Crazy Horse is a famous example of a live recording edited heavily to sound like a studio recording (audience and other background noise is nearly completely removed).

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Following up on this discussion/definition.

Would you guys/girls/xxx call this release disc 2 live, or not live:

"De tweede schijf van deze dubbelaar bevat negen opnamen die werden gemaakt in De Orangerie te Overveen met een strijkorkest, zonder publiek. "
free translation: “The second disc of this double release contains nine recordings, made at the Orangerie in Overveen, with an orchestra, without audience.”

See cover image here:


It’s an interesting question. I think I wouldn’t consider it live because for me, live means direct to audience. A recording made in one take wouldn’t be classed live either. On the other hand they do call this live themselves.

In this particular case, since “live” is a release group attribute and the majority of the release is not live, I wouldn’t set live as a secondary type for the release group. Or is the main disc live too? The packaging doesn’t make it very clear.

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The first disc is a live recording of one of their theatre tours. My question is for the second one (setting live to the recordings or not).

Personally I wouldn’t.

Another notch up on topic is the classical tradition of multi-movement works. Here a release of Bach’s violin sonatas & partitas with “Each movement an unedited performance”:

do live rehearsal jams count as “live”? i personally would avoid such a broad definition for our attribute.

Our Style guidelines are very unclear:
“This indicates that the recording is of a live performance.”
“This indicates that the recording is of a live performance.”

I think we should limit the live attribute on rg and recording level to a concert, livestream, maybe a radio performance.

Just to name an example: There are a lot of studio albums by jazz artists which are recorded and released without further editing and additional instrumentation. These all fall under under our current definition of live.

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Here some examples of ‘live’ in studio (chosen to hold an audience) with an audience of 30 to 80 fans and friends invited by the artists:
Release group “Tell Your Friends” by Snarky Puppy - MusicBrainz and
Release group “We Like It Here” by Snarky Puppy - MusicBrainz
Both first released in combination with a DVD showing the audience too (partly on YouTube), to me doublessly live.

Two other examples where I’m in doubt:

recorded live (?) in a concert hall during lockdown without audience

recorded live (?) open air during lockdown without audience

Any thoughts on that?

Those two lock-in examples were performed live to everyone who could attend. Which may have ended up only being a few backroom staff who worked in the place, but it was still as intended live.

But equally you can just say that theatre is a big studio hired for the day.

There will always be borderline cases.


… and that’s the problem. You wouldn’t really mind if I put ‘live’ to ‘Lock-In’ but somebody else could.
So leave it or not? :thinking:

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I would attribute all examples as Live. These albums have been declared to be recorded live. Even a lot of overdubs would not change this fact. :slight_smile:

(Lock-In should also be secondary type Live: “Recorded Live in Wellington at the Michael Fowler Centre on June 16th 2020.” - no doubt!)