How and where to add writers of songs

documentation
ux-case-study
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007f23c5910c68> #<Tag:0x00007f23c5910a38>

#1

The documentation is OK but not great. I’ve been away from Musicbrainz for a while. Between that, my memory, confusing it with Discogs’ methods and others, and the fuzzy documentation, and I feel like a newbie. I wish someone would improve the documentation.

I added albums by Sasha Masakowski. But how do I add the writers of the songs? The documentation doesn’t tell me.


#2

One set closer. You should list the page where it can be found. Write something like “On the album page, on the sidebar to the right, under Editing, click on Edit Relationship.”

Clicking takes me to a new page. There 's a sentence that says, “To edit a relationship, click on its name (e.g. “composer”).” First, what does “its” refer to? The song? Saying “for example composer” suggests that somewhere the word “composer” will appear and I can click on it. Nope.

Each song has an Add relationship link with a green plus sign. An odd way to phrase it, “relationship”, not esp. intuitive or obvious. I click on Add Relationship. I get a pop-up box. Is how to use this box explained anywhere? There’s a drop-down menu. Where is composer? Not there. Writer? Not there.

Now what?


#3

Hi! You need to add works (or if the works already exist, link each recording to a work). There’s a guide for all this stuff, although it’s kinda TL;DR. “Relating Recordings to Works” is what you’re looking for.

You’re being too nice there, honestly. It’s pretty bad. The guide I linked earlier is mentioned at the end of the guide for adding a release but it’s not very clear that what you’re looking for is a work in the first place. Once you understand the levels of MusicBrainz entities (track -> recording -> work) the whole thing is more clear, but we are missing a good introduction to that I’d say.


#4

Thanks for our quick, patient reply. But you know saying things like “it’s kinda TL;DR” doesn’t make sense to me. Maybe it’s because I’m an old guy, though I don’t feel old, but I don’t know what TL or DR mean.

When you say “works” you mean albums? How is that different from a release? I’ve read through the documentation, and of course I’m forgetting, but I wish the terminology were clearer and more intuitive.


#5

I write and edit for Wikipedia. Maybe down the road I can help with Musicbrainz’s documentation.


#6

Relating Recordings to Works

If the “Related Works” column on right side of the page is eerily empty, you’ll probably want to match each recording to a work (or works, if you’re dealing with a medley). After that, adding composer, lyricist, and other common work relationships will be identical to the process we used above for recordings.

The way to do this for a single recording is by clicking on the “Add related work” button next to a recording. See the above section titled #Adding a Relationship for help on how to use this dialog.

It’s common that newer or obscure releases may not have any works in the database yet, causing a search for them to turn up no results. For this, a convenient “Create a new work” link is available undeneath the work search box.


#7

So now I know “work” is another name for “song” or what some people (music critics, not me) like to call “tracks”.

I know that I want to add composers to the songs (works) of an album (release) that I just entered (edited) by a certain musician (artist).


#8

In this case Sasha is both the writer and recording artist, and the song went on her album. That’s 3x.

But when, when Joe Smith makes a recording of one of Sasha’s songs, and places it on a compilation album of various artists, she will be credited as the writer of the song even though it is not her recording or album.


#9

I noticed that there are two different sections labeled “Relating Recordings to Works”. There’s one at the page How To Use Works
https://musicbrainz.org/doc/How_to_Use_Works

and there’s one at How to Use the Relationship Editor
https://musicbrainz.org/doc/How_to_Use_the_Relationship_Editor

How to Use Works>Relating Recordings to Works

  1. Works should generally be linked to recordings with the “recording of” relationship: see the documentation for that relationship to find more info on when each of the attributes should be used. When linking a cover recording, it’s especially useful to also link the work to the original recording, if it isn’t already linked (for example because you’ve just created it, see how to create works below).

Relating recordings to works is very simple: you can either relate all recordings on a release to works using the relationship editor, or do it from the recording page with the Relate to… option.

Remember you can copy the work URL (or any other entity URL, but we’re talking works) and paste it into a search field to avoid going through the search - this can be especially useful if you’ve just created the work since you’ll have the URL in front of you.

  1. If the “Related Works” column on right side of the page is eerily empty, you’ll probably want to match each recording to a work (or works, if you’re dealing with a medley). After that, adding composer, lyricist, and other common work relationships will be identical to the process we used above for recordings.

The way to do this for a single recording is by clicking on the “Add related work” button next to a recording. See the above section titled #Adding a Relationship for help on how to use this dialog.

It’s common that newer or obscure releases may not have any works in the database yet, causing a search for them to turn up no results. For this, a convenient “Create a new work” link is available undeneath the work search box.

With “underneath” misspelled.

In No. 1 Relating Recordings to Works, I’m confronted by the word “recordings”, which I didn’t expect, because I thought I knew the terms for album (release) and song (work). Now what’s a recording.

“Works should generally be linked to recordings with the “recording of” relationship: see the documentation for that relationship”

I’m afraid this sentence just isn’t clear at all. One thing that bugs me is that I’m in the documentation, and yet I’m already being referred to another part of the documentation, which is generally well-organized but not great. So that’s confusing. A newbie isn’t going to understand “Works should generally be linked to recordings” if it isn’t clear what a recording is. Nor is link, in what sense. Generally everyone knows what a link is on the internet. A hyperlink, because this is hypertext. A link is colored text that you click on to take you to another page. But is there some confusion here, too? Linking links? I don’t know.


#10

Oh, sorry! It’s short for “too long, didn’t read”, or basically “so wordy they discourage people from reading the whole thing”.

Basically, a release (album, single, whatever) has a bunch of tracks.

Each track is linked to one recording (more like a mix, in real world terms).
Each recording can be linked to from many tracks though (for example, a track in a single release, the associated album release on CD, and the same album on its digital version, and in a “Best Of” compilation might all point to the same recording).

Each recording can be linked to one or more works (compositions, often “songs” for pop music), which are where the composition info like writers is stored.
Each work can also be linked to many recordings, like live versions, cover versions by other artists, etc. - for an example, see the work for “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”.

And the whole thing is kind of confusing :frowning:


#11

not that the WP rules are any easier to understand. :laughing:

I actually find MB far easier to use once you understand what is going on, because you are simply filling out forms.
WP is easier to start editing, but is far more difficult to completely understand because you have to write freeform and make your own tables/codes, AND link things to other pages if you want to link them.
All while adhering to the rules that aren’t easy to find or understand, and following the discussions that are even harder to find and aren’t clearly defined as “this is what we decided” during the conversation of 3-5 people who have made a decision for one million users.


#12

Thanks for the help. I really do appreciate everyone’s patience and understanding. I’m probably older than the rest of you and not as bright.

Sasha wrote a song (work). She made a recording (recording) of it for her album (release).

Other songs on her album, Wishes, she didn’t write, such as “Sydnrome” by Ellis Marsalis. So the release Wishes contains her recording of Ellis Marsalis’s work. And somewhere on the album Wishes I want “Syndrome by Ellis Marsalis” to appear.


#13

And that is the reason why the separate need for works. Someone wrote that song regardless of who recorded it or what album it went on.


#14

Yes, I’ve been editing for Wikipedia for over a year, and I feel like I’ve only put a dent in the documentation, in part because the documentation is always in flux, like the rest of Wikipedia. You can’t define something that changes.

An example: Can Amazon be used as a source? I learned no, it can’t, because it’s a retail site and because, like Musicbrainz, it has user-generated content. But what I thought was an iron rule, and to me a logical one, is more like hard rubber. Like much of Wikipedia, there’s free play, which leads to confusion and debate.

And that’s keeping aside the complexity of the rules that don’t change. I don’t mind learning the templates. You could call it a computer language but what I do isn’t programming. It’s plugging in ready-made templates at the appropriate place in the appropriate situation.

A good prep for Wikipedia was editing for LyricWikia, though the adminstrators were unbearable and impossible to work with.


#15

One thing off the top of my head. Intermittently through the years, depending on what I was doing, I read a little bit about the use of text in graphic design.

One thing I remember from my high school typing class (I know…) is the importance of the length of a line. Readability pivots on the length of a line, which is relative to the size of the font. Generally short lines make for easier reading, short lines divided into sections, clearly set off with the proper amount of white space.

Our minds process information in certain quantities at a certain rate. I suspect there’s variation from one person’s mind to the next. That’s why one person can read a page of internet text with little trouble, one side of the screen to the other, while another will read it and find their head swimming because it looks like an infodump. To me, most web sites have become infodumps. The pop-ups, pop-unders, pop-overs, and automatically started videos make me feel like I’m involved in some kind of arms race that my ad blockers are losing.


#16

Here’s another example of a gap in the documentation.

If click on Add Related Work, I get a pop up box. Three fields in that box that are not self-explanatory are begin date, end date, and a check box for This Relationship has ended. That last part in particular is mystifying. The page “How to Use Works”

https://musicbrainz.org/doc/How_to_Use_Works#Creating_Works

doesn’t say anything about these three subjects. Nor the does the help link in the popup box.


#17

It’s not explained in the "How to use works” because those fields are common to every advanced relationship (such as the link between works and recordings that you’re creating in your example).

They describe the time period of the relationship: maybe the artist started working on the recording on January 7 2017, and finished/finalized it in March. In that case those would be the beginning/end dates of the relationship (The work was recorded between x and y dates). Or maybe we know when she started but not when she finished. But it’s been put out on a release, so it must have been completed at some point. (That’s what the “this relationship has ended” checkbox is for)


#18

As has been mentioned elsewhere, greater use of tooltips (help text when you mouse over an item) would be an improvement over having to search the documentation.