Feedback and support thread for the Pulsewidth a-tisket instance

This thread is intended for all feedback, support requests and discussions regarding the a-tisket instance hosted at https://atisket.pulsewidth.org.uk.

Please note that the codebase is in “maintenance mode”, which means that whilst I will try to fix major bugs as well as make minor improvements, any significant functionality changes (such as adding new sources/APIs) are unlikely to be implemented.

In summary, whilst people find it useful and there is no viable alternative available, I will do my best to support and maintain the instance going forward (time permitting).

Finally I want to express my thanks to @Maks and @kellnerd who have generously provided their time and expertise to fix bugs and improve the security of the codebase, as well as to @marlonob, the original author of a-tisket.

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Known issues (as of 28/03/2022)

Curaçao :curacao: appears as an excluded country for many releases.

This is due to the fact that a significant proportion of Spotify’s music catalogue is not available in Curaçao, even though the service is officially supported in the country. My assumption is that this is the result of some obscure licensing issues, and so will eventually be resolved, but I have no proof of this.

iTunes / Apple Music releases from late 2021 are not automatically found when there are Deezer / Spotify releases with matching barcodes.

This is due to an unannounced change in the iTunes API functionality, where searching for barcodes of new releases no longer returns any results. It is assumed that this is a side effect of Apple’s ongoing transition from iTunes to Apple Music. My expectation is that there will be more breaking changes and possibly even the depreciation of the iTunes API in the near to medium term.

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I’d like to try and get some consensus regarding how to deal with the withdrawal of Deezer from Belarus and Russia and the withdrawal of Spotify from Russia. Obviously this also impacts existing releases which are now unavailable in those territories, but I think that is a different issue and should be discussed separately.

Should we remove these countries from the Deezer / Spotify country list, so that releases are listed as being available worldwide?

With regards to Apple, @kellnerd has done some research and found the following page, which indicates that Apple Music and iTunes are still available in Russia and Belarus:

Obviously there’s a chance that this page may be outdated/inaccurate, so if anyone has any sources that contradict it please post them here.

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This should be Release data and not “today in the shop” data. So if the album was released in 2019, then Russia and Belarus should still be listed. Its only really the 2022 and newer albums will stop getting a Russia\Belarus entry. Then in 2025 or whenever those shops start selling into that territory again these releases can get updates with the later dates for that territory.

Just like how I assume India is treated as a 2012 album should show India with a Feb 2019 date as that is when the service was launched there.

Logically this should be the date the album was first available in that territory.

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OK, I think I see your point - from your perspective the release event only represents the time at which the release was first available in the country, and therefore the fact that is has been subsequently withdrawn from said country is irrelevant.

I’m not sure I agree but it seems consistent. Also, I’d be very hesitant to make any predictions about when or even if services will return to these countries. I don’t want to turn this into a political debate, but we are in the midst of a significant geopolitical shift right now, and it seems entirely possible Russia could become a state similar to Iran or North Korea as a result.

The issue with this approach is that it becomes excessively complex to implement/manage on a technical and administrative level. Even if we have an exact date when a service was launched in India, it’s entirely possible that significant numbers of releases aren’t available immediately for undisclosed (e.g. licensing) reasons. However none of this information is available anywhere - all we get when we query the APIs is “where is this release available at the time it’s being imported”.

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I am more thinking about how MB guidelines work with CDs and physical media. A Release has a fixed date of when a product came to market in that territory in that format.

Ditto. I’d rather not name names as we cannot guess the future. All we can take are raw facts if something was or was not available at that time. For now some territories are out. And some unknown time in the future may be back. Regimes change, and that is quickly followed by chasing of commercial opportunities. This will lead to different, later “Release dates” in these territories.

We should not be changing a 2016 release. History showed us that at that time the album was available in that territory. If the import tool is used today on an album from 2020 that was available in Russia at the time it should not care about today’s politics. It should just stick to facts of it being released to that territory at that time.

Not hard to find, Feb 2019 ( Spotify — Spotify Launches in India )
(Edit: Single list of territory start dates here: Spotify - Wikipedia)

I had assumed the tool already had a lookup list of some form that noted these territory start dates and plain blocked anything that tried to set a 2016 Release date for something in India as it would be obviously wrong.

Sorry, I work mainly on CDs. And there we are not allowed to guess a release date. “If in doubt, leave it out”. This is why I have always been confused with the following:

This seems to imply it is not a release date as MB defines it. This data is a “available in this shop today” date?

Very sorry for my confusions, and thank you for responding. I do appreciate you are making a really complex tool here. I was hoping some of the digital editors would take over here. This is not my area and these dates have often confused me as to how they are created.

When I see a list of 100+ countries, does that mean the date applied is not actually specific per country? The date applied is when the music was added to Spotify and not specifically when released to that territory?

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the services are still available there, most labels just don’t put out releases anymore. since it’s still possible to put out a release there, i say don’t remove it.

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The “worldwide-ness” of digital releases is a really annoying problem. It doesn’t make much sense not to consider e.g. a release that is available “everywhere except North Korea” (just as an extreme example) as “Worldwide”, even if technically false (the assumption being that if it were realistically possible, it would be available there). The huge list of countries may be technically more accurate, but hardly useful data IMO (especially given the “time of availability” vs. “time of import” problem discussed above).

I would vote for considering the releases as “Worldwide” in the absence of any better idea.

(I am personally warming up more and more to the idea of exempting digital releases from having release countries, e.g. with a special-purpose [Internet] country entry).

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This article directly contradicts your statement:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-03-25/spotify-pulls-free-service-from-russia-completing-its-exit

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Thanks @elomatreb, this very eloquently sums up my opinions on the subject. To be honest, I think the approach that a-tisket took regarding release events was broadly incorrect and has caused more harm than good. However I do understand why it was done - because MB doesn’t provide any better options.

To be clear, I never mentioned modifying existing releases, and that’s not what I’m trying to get a consensus on. a-tisket is used for importing new releases, so this is not relevant to the discussion.

But as I said in my reply, we have no way of knowing this. The API responses only tell us “which countries are this release/track available in at this current moment in time”. There is no history, we cannot tell if a release was previously available in Russia or not. I agree that this is less than ideal, but it is what it is and we need to deal with it pragmatically.

Thank you, this is very helpful!

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FWIW, the Russia/Belarus restriction doesn’t appear to be being applied retroactively. Compare ISRC submit and ISRC submit, for example.

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i didn’t realize they were actually stopping service there. then yes, i think they should be removed from atisket on just those two platforms.

this may be a seperate discussion, but i think even if they stop support in russia, it shouldn’t be worldwide if you can’t get the release there. the three major labels have specifically said they’re no longer putting music out there, it’s different from “we can’t find a place to put our music out in russia”.

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A recent example which is currently listed as available in all countries except for Russia and Belarus:

https://musicbrainz.org/edit/88445791

So you think that all new releases which are not available in these two countries shouldn’t be marked as worldwide but get a list of release events with all the other 200+ countries? I’m not sure if we really want that, the effect of this decision would be that all future a-tisket releases can never be worldwide again unless/until the ban is lifted.

Edit: The above country list is only for Deezer/Spotify, but an iTunes lookup yields the same results:

== Countries excluded (iTunes) ==
(As of 2022-04-02).

    * '''Eastern Europe''': 🇧🇾 Belarus (by) 🇷🇺 Russia (ru)

Please note that this is currently not working on the production instance, but I’ve implemented Apple ID based lookups (instead of the broken UPC based lookups) on my dev server and submitted a PR. (Sorry @tigerman325, I thought we were already using the ID as a fallback, but yesterday I realised that there are two different places in the code where the lookups are happening… I’m rarely using this feature since most of the time “my releases” were already worldwide using just Deezer and Spotify data.)

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To follow on from this, I’m starting to think availability for releases is being decided by the labels, although it’s a moot point if Spotify in general isn’t available in those countries.

I thought I’d have to wait months for new music to slowly be released to see how it plays out, but then I remembered the existence of all those shovelware compilation albums that labels love to churn out.

So here’s a UMG Recordings, Inc release from June last year. It was available in Russia and Belarus when it was added to MB in November, but now it isn’t.

Meanwhile, X5 Music Group really aren’t fussed: ISRC submit, ISRC submit, ISRC submit, ISRC submit. Like, at all: ISRC submit, ISRC submit, ISRC submit. And that’s just some they released yesterday. (Also, I like the irony of not being able to listen to British indie in the UK: ISRC submit)

Edit: It’s also probably worth seeing what Jaxsta says about availability. My previous example is, er, apparently only available in Andorra, so I should probably check that again at a later date…

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Spotify is currently available in Russia. Only there is no paid subscription. In terms of labels, all new BMG releases are available, as well as independent labels, with a few exceptions. Sony, Universal and Warner releases are not available after March 5. I noticed that some releases are available on Friday, and on Saturday they are no longer available.

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So this news report including quotes from Spotify themselves is incorrect?

Spotify Technology SA is halting its free, ad-supported service in Russia after evaluating the risks of keeping it going amid a government crackdown on news providers.

I’m happy to be shown to be wrong on this but please provide evidence instead of arbitrary statements of fact.

Yes, I think you may be correct about this, as Spotify hasn’t updated the API responses to generally exclude Russia, but perhaps this will change in future.

Sadly I think some people would answer “yes” to this question :grin:

FYI I’ve merged @kellnerd’s PR so the Apple ID based lookups work now.

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Fact is that the service is available https://support.spotify.com/us/article/where-spotify-is-available/. Maybe they’ll just turn off podcasts. Many have purchased a subscription to the service until 2023 (like me) and I still use the paid version (from a mobile phone).

Spotify support says this

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Thank you, I appreciate the response. To be honest this makes a mockery of the statements from Spotify in the Bloomberg article.

AFAIR there have been some inaccuracies with the Spotify country list on the support page, so whilst it’s a good indicator I don’t think it should be taken as gospel. Also, I don’t believe Spotify has ever withdrawn service from a territory in the past, which needs to taken into consideration.

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Now officially. Spotify ceases to be available in Russia on April 11th.

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