How to clean up an Artist


Is there any best practice in cleaning up an artist? For example, what can I do about a list like this:

Merge recordings that are the same length?



Yes, length is a good indication for which mix or version appears on a release. We must be careful though of mixes which are different but of similar length, as well as any versions which may omit intros/outros or cuss words. It’s best to have an editor familiar with the artist to help ensure no different recordings are accidentally merged. When in question, do not merge, but try to verify by listening to both versions first (which sometimes is impossible).

I started us off with a couple I noticed right away:

Edit #94516766 - MusicBrainz - These two tracks are in the same group “The Complete History”, have the same name (radio edit) and are of similar length (within 0-5 seconds).

The “No One” single release group also has some duplicates:

Edit #94516903 - Merge recordings

Edit #94516904 - Merge recordings

Recording merges go through a mandatory voting period (3-7 days) because they are destructive edits, so likely someone will review and vote on your edits before they take effect.


Other tips - AcoustIDs a good, but not perfect guide. They can help find matches, but can’t be relied on.

When you have a large list of Various Artists compilations like you see in this example, you can fairly safely assume they will only use one or two different versions.

Gotcha’s to watch out for are “radio versions” which censor naughty words. Can be hard to know if you have a censored version or not.

I generally start by checking out the official Single, 12" and Album versions and compare lengths. From there you often find a batch of VA versions that can match and be merged. The problem happens if a Single and Album version are the same length as then you need to check on other sources to see if anything was remixed for the single.

Remixes can be awkward to catch - so check Singles carefully. Maybe go and check them out closer to make sure any remixes are named correctly so you don’t accidentally scoop them up.

(Also look at Discogs \ Wikipedia \ Fan Sites in case MB’s list is not complete)

Cover artists can be a PITA if someone added the CD wrong and credited the original instead of the cover singer (happens more with 50s\60s music)

Also watch out for the DJ Remix type CDs as these don’t want to be merged if one track is mixed to the next.

And generally - if in doubt, leave it out of the merge.

Have fun. :slight_smile:


Thanks all, this is advice I can work with!

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Been working on cleaning up the Celtic Woman recordings recently, Wikipedia has been a good resource in some cases for finding if tracks are being used or are new. Learned about ISRCs the other day, and since I own a lot of the discs I was able to add those and they helped figure out which album songs in a compilation came from.

Also watchout for rerecordings, I haven’t finished researching what I ran into, but after adding ISRCs I found a couple recordings had multiple ISRCs and Wikipedia’s article on one of the compilation albums said that some of the songs were rerecorded

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Sometimes done for copyright reasons. Sometimes due to originals being lost. Sometimes done by a dodgy cover artist who is being vague on the album paperwork. Sometimes done just to confuse those of us trying to catalogue the differences… :grin:

There are a lot of Vangelis tracks around that aren’t Vangelis. Just some bloke called Russel on a synth. Or you get a Soundtrack album for a film like the Exorcist where they don’t pay for a copy of Tubular Bells and instead swap in a cover version.

Then the interesting puzzles of Digital Streaming services swapping Album and Single versions around on a compilation.

Even a brand new release isn’t certain to be what you’d expect - kinda surprised me to find a Kasabian 2022 album was release on Spotify etc with a different track 5 - using a previously released (shorter) Single version instead of the track that was on the CD and Vinyl releases. (at least that one showed up in ISRC - but that is rare as ISRC can be so random)

A fun minefield…

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That’s indeed a good start to verify/add the main official releases as it’s give a good view of the possible different versions. Also adding disambiguation can be helpful if there is no existing ETI to differientiate recordings credited the same way.