Handling In-Game Music and Audio

I have been looking into organising and correcting metadata for Video Game music. I have come across a couple of instances where a release has been listed twice for music from a Video Game.

Often, two listings are present. One for a physical/public release where the works are in their entirety, or a few select works have been chosen to be released. And other listing detailing all BGM audio tracks for the game, include quick rifts. Most works have a known creator. Some of this data has also been populated from other databases online. (I.e.: VGMdb, Discos)

My question is about whether listing detailing all audio works for a game should be added into MusicBrainz. It is quite hard to detail tracklistings, as there is not defined listings. These are often audio files (or extracts) from the games program files. Some of these works have inspired other artists to create covers of them.

How should we handle this data?

The Need for Speed Album In-Game
Need for Speed High Stakes Album In-Game

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We have had some really comprehensive discussions on this in the past… all buried with the old forums (which is hopefully going to be back for referencesometime soon?).
I think we were making some real headway into setting some guidelines for VGM additions.
But for now:

Yes please :slight_smile:

Official soundtrack releases should be added as with any other release.
Files ripped from the game itself should be added with the actual physical (or digital) game release date/label etc that the files came from.
Here’s an example: https://beta.musicbrainz.org/release/155c9913-9c34-4514-93f8-d6ca679673df
I don’t think we’d reached consensus on this so there’s probably elements of that release that people disagree with, pipe up if you’re one and you’re reading this!

Fan-made covers have no place on MB unfortunately, I used the actual game package cover in that previous example.
The exception would perhaps be if someone released a highly-circulated bootleg of the game audio, with a custom cover (eg a very widespread torrent/blog post). Then I would add that as a separate bootleg release with the cover and track titles that the bootleg came with.

For game rips track titles can be tricky, I think generally we use either the most accepted/widespread fan titles or the file names themselves(or both, via a pseudo release). If the track has an official/known name, we use that.

That’s all I can come up with off the top of my head…
These are the two ‘game rip style’ discussions on the old forums (that I was following), just in case they come alive for future reference:

Any other specific questions, I’m sure people will have input!
I see you’ve already added heaps of VGM, thanks for that :slight_smile:

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But they might be welcome on FanArt.tv (which uses MBIDs to identify music things, so you’re sure you’re referencing exactly the right thing).

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I’ve been thinking about creating a topic about this, but it looks like I won’t have to because everything sensible has already been said. Thanks in particular to @aerozol for linking the old forum threads (now available only via Wayback Machine). I would like to add a small comment:

I think this may make sense in some cases, possibly this one, but only with due diligence. I think these categories should cover most cases of video game soundtracks, decreasingly belonging on MusicBrainz:

  1. Actual soundtracks. These are obviously releases, usually official. Treat as most releases.
  2. Specific video game rips. If circulated they should be treated as any other bootleg. Note that any amount of rips with varying track orders, lengths and so on could exist and be circulated for a single game. The data here (e.g., art, date) should pertain to the rip and not the actual game.
  3. Game that can be uniquely represented as a release. Some games double as their own audio CD soundtracks. In other cases the soundtrack may be obviously separated from the rest of the files, but beware of “editorial changes”: For example, something innocuous as removing sound effects intermixed with the soundtrack would disqualify the game from being a release, in my opinion. If a game belongs to this category, the game should count as the release itself, being official and with data of the game’s release.
  4. Other games. Probably most games, in particular games where the audio is not stored as files but as programmed instructions. I think this category does not belong on MusicBrainz to avoid having an arbitrary tracklist being called the game. Any rip circulated still goes in category 2, so it shouldn’t be a big problem in practice.

But the same argument can be made for vinyl - where we don’t focus on ‘rips’, just the product. I think our database is the most useful for video game music if we do the same.
That said, I totally agree for games where the audio files can’t be cleanly identified/ where someone has to make creative decisions in regard to track length and how to extract music. That’s a bootleg and not an official product.
Rips that have made these creative decisions/ packaged their own art etc can then be added to the same groups as bootlegs.

Agree with the gist of what you’re saying, just a bit more lenient on the side of official release :wink:

For the bootleg rip vs official release discussion, my thinking is that if the install provides files that are meant to be accessed from outside the game itself – dual-purpose CD with audio, “Soundtrack” folder with official instructions for getting to it, but not a sound test only accessible through in-game menus/dedicated programs – then that would count as the official release, even if those tracks aren’t actually what’s played in-game (though “editorial changes” by a third party would obviously disqualify it). If the game just provides easily-accessible files that aren’t officially advertised, they can certainly still be added as a release, but it would be labeled as a bootleg; while the vinyl argument is persuasive, I’d say the “product” would be the game files as a whole, and unless we’re adding data tracks for it all, just taking the music as a release and ignoring everything else that got installed can’t be considered what got officially distributed.

One other thing: @Jimmyson asked about people creating covers of the works, and @aerozol and @Freso took that to mean cover art. That doesn’t belong here (other than those widely-distributed bootleg soundtracks), but musical covers often do. The same rules of notability still apply, but if they’re uploaded to YouTube, OverClockedRemix, or anywhere similar, I’m taking that as easily public enough.

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I think ignoring everything else is perfectly valid, because Musicbrainz is primarily about music. It’s not that we’re claiming that the music is the entirety of the release, but we’re not …“InstalledFileBrainz” or something.

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I based that on how we handle CDs with data tracks, or at least how I understand the guidelines. We’d consider a pure music CD a different release than one with a data track, and we list data tracks alongside the music. A tracklist that didn’t list the data track would be incomplete. When the “digital release” includes many non-music files that the distributors considered just as important as the soundtrack, I’d think listing just those music files would also be incomplete. Then again, I don’t really have any experience handling data tracks, so I could be completely wrong.

[quote=“WovenTales, post:6, topic:174449”]
If the game just provides easily-accessible files that aren’t officially advertised, they can certainly still be added as a release, but it would be labeled as a bootleg.[/quote]
If we want to store and display a musicians work on the soundtrack to a game, that wasn’t released separately but is nonetheless music that’s available to enjoy in-game, it seems incorrect to assert that that release that the musician worked on and was paid for is a bootleg release.

[quote=“WovenTales, post:6, topic:174449”]
unless we’re adding data tracks for it all, just taking the music as a release and ignoring everything else that got installed can’t be considered what got officially distributed.[/quote]I would welcome some way to measure, without going into detail, what else is on those releases, just like we do with [data track]. But I don’t think that’s a reason to label it a bootleg.

Not to shoot myself in the foot here, but the really prickly question for me would be where to draw the line, do we start adding movies because they contain music you can listen to?
But in the case of game music there seems to be a need for a stable source of information, eg art and release dates, which is best taken from something acknowledged as an ‘official’ release, and rips can be organised below that.

That just makes sense to me. That said, it doesn’t bother me that much. The main problem is how we display (eg don’t display) bootlegs and promos at this point, which are very inaccessible and almost impossible for new users to find. Once that’s inevitably addressed it becomes an issue of semantics anyway.


I just re‐read the original post, and you’re :100:% right! Covers of music, be they from video games or otherwise, are absolutely part of MusicBrainz’s mission, so please do add them! (Sorry for the confusion/misreading before!)


I don’t agree with this analogy. Vinyls are one of the mediums that can be reasonably represented in only one way (unlike video game cartridges). However, if someone were to rip a vinyl in twice the speed and it would gain traction on the Internet (maybe unlikely), it would be fair to treat this rip as a bootleg. But as you say we mostly agree!

Excellent examples of what I would count as an official release.

I’m starting to lean more towards the lenient side. I think many CDs could be entered as official releases, and it is of great benefit when they can. The arbitrary rips problem is probably mostly apparent when handling cartridges. I also don’t think handling a game as a release but labeling it a bootleg for some reason is a good idea. I suppose the line will have to be drawn from case to case.

Half speed actually, but:

Doesn’t seem like much of a problem to me (No relation despite the name, but check the pictures for clarity):

[quote=“August_Janse, post:11, topic:174449”]
I don’t agree with this analogy. Vinyls are one of the mediums that can be reasonably represented in only one way (unlike video game cartridges).[/quote]
I’ve never had to deal with cartridges (except for more recent ones where you can extract data, eg GBA), so I’m always talking about extracting files of a consistent nature.

Fair to say that we essentially need two separate guidelines, or a sub category - one that deals with rips that involve artistic decisions from the ripper.
Then those edge cases, that are becoming more and more historic (not many cartridges are released today) wont bog us down in creating a guideline and can be hashed out seperately.

I’m happy to agree to all games that haven’t had a dedicated soundtrack only release being marked as bootleg if it means we can move forward consistently.

I really wish the old forums were available, I’m sure we were pretty close to a guideline on there…

After editing a few of these releases I have had some more thought.

  • “Bootleg” video game rips are really useless datawise. While it may make sense to use the date the rip was published, the date is still largely of no interest, and the same goes for most other metadata. If possible it would be wise to advise against these types of releases unless the rip is significant in itself for some reason, and not just because it is the only rip there is. However
  • For games where it will become relevant to the rip, track length is a major issue because there is no way to avoid subjectivity in the number of loops recorded. Fading might be an issue too, but that’s easier just not to use. One loop would make the most sense, in a sense, but would make for an unpleasant rip with tracks that don’t sound very much like intended by the composers. (I believe this was discussed in one of the forum threads still available through the Wayback Machine.)
  • It might be the best solution to just allow multiple rips to be stored with the game’s metadata. I think this is a bit ugly datawise, but it might be the best for usefulness.
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