How should we handle doujin music?

If the work is a lyricized version of a Touhou song, then “based on” should probably be the relationship to use. If it is just a direct arrangement, then just use the original work with a cover relationship instead.


A cover relationship is definitely appropriate for recordings that essentially use the original composition (e.g., Akyu’s Untouched Score, Romantique Tp’s MIDI recordings), but most Touhou music reworks the source material quite significantly – even the tracks without vocals. e.g. izna’s “Super Fine Red” is no more a cover of “上海紅茶館 ~ Chinese Tea” than EastNewSound’s “STAY HERE, NOT ALONE”.

All three are distinct works, and the two derivative works both significantly alter the original composition. But are they enough of a departure from the original that they’re no longer even “arrangements” of it?

One idea I had, at least as a rule of thumb, is to let the artist decide: if the liner notes credit ZUN (or another soundtrack composer) for the composition, then the metadata should mark it as an arrangement of his composition. Otherwise, it’s based on it.

How does that sound?

It’s standard practise on Touhou works to credit ZUN (or U2/あきやまうに) for composition even if very little of the original survives in the arrangement, so that’s not really a useful way to tell the difference.

There’s two cases where we need to create a new work:

  1. Additional composition or lyrics credits are added
  2. There are multiple recordings of the same arrangement, and we want to link them together

In other cases, we should link the recording back to the original work as a cover.


The guidelines for classical works helped me understand where you’re coming from here:

For an arrangement to be valid as a unique work in MusicBrainz, it must be possible for other performers to record new versions. There must be at least two different recordings available. The recordings must be of different performances by two different (groups of) performers. You must be able to source that the both performances use the exact same arrangement. If in doubt, do not create a new work.

So I’ll reserve new works for the conditions you suggest, and use “based on” rather than “arrangement of” as CyberSkull suggests. Thanks!

Sorry to drag the circle attribution discussion back up, but while I agree that the circle should be the release artist in most cases, I’d like community endorsement of a uniform solution that can result in a single coherent discography for doujin circles and that covers edge cases where someone other than the circle is the release artist.

Hamuko voted against my edit #55387001 (which would make wavforme the release artist for Casual Killer’s Shaft of Light EP) and I agree: Casual Killer is clearly the intended release artist as presented on the cover, and the circle – wavforme – is taking a role more like that of a label (production, publishing, promotion, etc.)

This thread suggests such releases use a “publisher” relationship for the circle, but looking through the artists I’ve cataloged under the “doujin” tag I don’t see any examples of a circle being given the publisher relationship and in a music context, “publisher” has more to do with song royalties and management, which is why “publisher” is available as a relationship for individual recordings and works as well as for releases. “Publisher” may be applicable for independent artist releases where a publishing collective isn’t necessarily recognized as having its own discography, but it seems it shouldn’t be relied on as a relationship to establish a circle’s release discography, since it applies to all manner of objects. The same problem applies when using a “producer” relationship, or any existing relationship other than “release artist” or “label”.

Sequential catalog numbers and circle logos on release covers seem like clear indications that doujin circles present themselves as something more like a personal label (as CyberSkull mentioned earlier in this thread), and the majority of doujin releases seem to be entered that way into MusicBrainz. As far as I’ve seen, I’m the odd one out following this thread’s advice and using [no label] for my entries, and I’m not consistent about it, either. Label is such a natural fit.

I’d like to propose that we continue and endorse that behavior:

  • Circles with group releases should use a circle group artist for those releases.
  • Circles may also have a personal label to collect releases by multiple release artists.

This is descriptive of how release artists and labels are used for doujin releases in MusicBrainz today, and seems a more natural fit for how doujin circles present themselves.

Is this acceptable? (If not, I think a fairly hefty cleanup is needed. :worried:)


I do not know doujin but it really reminds me of how #demoscene releases used to be (I do not know if demoscene still exists today).
When a tracker (a musician) released a music disc or #module (several or one in archive) on BBS, it was always as part of the group productions, thus was released as Group presents Artist or more often as Artist from Group.
For some demoscene MB releases I tricked and created a new label with Group name in addition to the already existing Group artist.
It would be better if there only was the Group MB artist that could be used in the label field of the release.
Shameful example label and group.


Sorry for the thread necromancy, hope this is still relevant. I make Touhou doujin music myself and just added my own release. I tried to follow the style of other existing entries, but I’m curious if there was ever a style settled on for doujin music.

If anyone wants to review it, I would appreciate any hints as to what I might have gotten wrong:

I have a pile of physical doujin releases from other circles I’d like to add Musicbrainz metadata for, so it would be useful to have a good style to settle on.

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Welcome here Marcan!
Usually, karaoke track artists are the singer, are the same artist as the original track.
But you can put yourself visible in the release through relationships:
【Scarlet System】(TCCD-0001)
作曲: ZUN
アレンジ: marcan ( )
作詞: marcan・セナ
ボーカル: ウタイさん ( )
イラスト: たみく ( )
ロゴデザイン: 魔女っ娘 ( )
ジャケットデザイン: セナ

You can link marcan as arranger of recording(s) and marcan as lyricist of work(s), together with セナ.

For this, click Edit relationships on the release page.

Ah, I was unsure about that. This example used the circle name as the artist for instrumental tracks:

I had myself as artist for the instrumentals in Bandcamp following some other tagging patterns I’d seen before, but I wasn’t sure of what the convention was here. I’ve updated it to ウタイさん (ed: seems the edits are queued).

I’m also adding work relations to the original Touhou songs. Things seem to be quite split between “Is based on” and “Is an arrangement of”. I’ve gone with the first, under the premise that the songs do not follow the song structure of the original songs (especially the first track, which includes original melodies too; the second one is closer to the original, so I’m not so sure…). Any hints there?

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I have been using the discussions in here as a reference for my editing work over the past years, but it certainly does not cover all cases, so I collected some examples, rules of thumbs and other references and discussions in edits that I have participated in or noticed. This may not be the ideal location to document this in, but as far as I can tell, this place has by far the most information and instructions on doujin tagging.

I am also including examples where these guidelines are applied, by myself or someone else. Some of these decisions may not have been correct since the distinction between the cases I present is not always as simple as it sounds, but I claim to have abided by them in good faith. Sometimes you also don’t have all information available and need to make use of what you have.


Basically what @tojikomori said earlier: Unless the release is distributed by a different label, use a personal label for the circle if there is one and consider adding one if there isn’t.

Release artist credit

Generally use the circle’s name as the release artist,
unless there is specific marketing on the product indicating otherwise, such as “Solo album” or the primary track artist is mentioned as the release artist directly.


Track artist credit

Track artist credits have been inconsistently applied in the past. Following are the rules that I use for specifying the track artist, ordered by precedence.

  1. The track listing inside the packaging (back cover, booklet) or the discography page lists a dedicated artist for a track:
    Use this as the artist.
  2. The circle acts as a group or the release is credited to a single artist:
    Use the release artist.
    This is usually the case when arrangement and vocals are credited separately in a sub-note.
  3. The release is a collaboration or does not fit into any of the above
    Apply your best judgement.

Always apply the “featuring” rule as per MB standards.


  • tu:ki by WAVE uses individual track artists based on the “#1. 5. 6. … by cranky” notes on the back cover. This is a clear attribution of the given tracks to the artist and should be reflected in the tracklist. More detailed credits are in the booklet but have not been moved to the release entry as of writing this.
  • STORYTELLER by WAVE is subtitled “Lily 10th Anniversary” (Lily is the vocalist), yet it is not a solo album and does not have individual track artists, so they are credited to the release artist (the circle).
  • Vocis Helix by Vocis Helix is a collaboration album. The track listing does not have individual track artist and are thus credited to the release artist.
  • soleil de minuit by 藍月なくる × Sennzai is a collaboration album. Unfortunately the website is not available anymore, but on the Diverse Direct store the tracks have individual credits, which is why they have been carried over.
  • NON-STOP INTERCEPT phase three by Alstroemeria Records × DiGiTAL WiNG is a collaboration release between two circles. The tracklist shows the circle’s name next to the track title as a form of artist contribution, which is why the respective circle is used as the track artist and not the arranger or vocalist.

Related discussions:

I also wanted to write something about touhou arrangement albums, but that needs more time from my side and I will try to follow-up soon in a separate post.


I still want to bring up a very specific case here though it’s a bit late, regarding

(It was first discussed in Record label gets mistaken as artist? but the result seems inconclusive so I want to bring it up here again).

In the very specific case, 中恵光城 (primary member artist) and ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY (circle) seems to be used fairly liberally and interchangeably in Japanese materials.

For example:

  • The CD jewel case printings of ノクトメモリア Vol.3 says
    • Planning / Production: ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY
    • Vocal / Lyrics: 中恵光城
    • And the songs in the release follow this pattern:
      • Song (vocal?): 中恵光城
      • Arrange: [some other artist]
      • Lyrics: [some other artist]
  • The downloaded files of ABCAS CHRONICLE (and almost all her releases available from have the artist field set to ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY/中恵光城
  • The release Doukai Kitan available from Eruce (and her other releases that are on Eruce) has listed ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY as the credits on the website, but the downloaded FLAC files have 中恵光城 in the artist field
  • Her works that were release on iTunes and Spotify, such as DOKAIKITAN - EP and ノクトメモリア Vol.2, are just credited to 中恵光城

My current approach is that unless that there is firm support that this specific release is credited with ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY, then I default to 中恵光城. But at this point, after having being voted down by @FichteFoll I am genuinely confused about what to do.

For cases like Yonder Voice it’s actually pretty straightforward (as they release everything under the name of Yonder Voice, and exceptions are clear). But for 中恵光城 it seems that there is no clear pattern.

P.S. I also think that it’ll be very hard to come up with generic rules for doujin artists that fit everywhere, rather it seems it’ll be better to create guideline, and figure things out on a case-by-case basis.

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Mitsuki Nakae’s commercial work (On my Sheep etc.) is the clearest case where 中恵光城 should be credited, but also give us a decent rule of thumb for how to apply the distinction:

  • Her self-published doujin releases are almost by definition ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY releases, including Doukai Kitan, despite inconsistencies in metadata
  • Her commercial releases, including those with TEAM Entertainment and SIDE CONNECTION, give credit to 中恵光城

For songs: unless a single track artist is clear in the track listing, we typically give song credits to the release artist, which sounds like it should be ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY for Mitsuki Nakae’s doujin releases. Vocalist, arranger, and lryicist credits should be entered as song relationships.

Aside: I’d give very little weight to metadata on streaming sites. They’re often entered through third party intermediaries and sometimes modified for “SEO”.

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for cases like iTunes and Spotify, shall we normalize them to ABSOLUTE CASTAWAY or keep it as-is? I originally thought that we should not really change the data and record them faithfully, but is still pretty confused now.

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So I got a copy of Another Flower Special Live 2017「Cross bouquet」LIVE CD and have created the release for now. But when I was looking at the official release site I saw this:

Shall I create individual artist credits for each of the songs using the singer (歌) field, or shall I just leave track credits the same as the album credit?

I have been neglecting MB for a while so I wasn’t paying attention to replies or mentions. I realize this is an old question, but it is still unanswered and that might be confusing for readers who find it later.

Your example release falls under case 2 of the artist credits in my earlier post, i.e. use the release artist for the tracks but add staff credits as indicated on the official site. Also, as always, feel free to add scans of the booklet as an additional source for discussion because they are a crutial part of determining how a release and its tracks are credited.