How to handle changes to digital releases

Before digital media and streaming services, once you released something, it was released. But now that we can release things exclusively on the internet, and changes can be easily made to these releases, I’m not sure how these changes should be handled.

For example, the single STARRCADE 97 was originally released with no credited feature, as can be seen on the internet archive. Later, though, the credit to DATPIFFMAFIA was added (as can be seen now).

There are also instances of artists changing the album art, spelling/capitalization of the title, etc. These changes are not a new release—it’s not like they’re being re-uploaded, but just changed post-initial-release. Should these changes be documented in any way? or just ignored and the most up-to-date information put on the site.


with that example i’d probably argue that it was a mistake (depending on the gap between when it was uploaded and when it was changed) and change the original release to appropriately include the featuring credit. i’m not familiar with that artist though; some people might feel differently.

actually, i think we do tend to treat these as new releases, again depending on the context. if the original had a typo that was corrected, we’d correct the wrong spelling on the original release. but if some tracks were completely changed or the coverart was swapped, usually people will create a new release for that.

i added one of these cases today actually. this was released in 2012, but two tracks were changed in mid-2018

it can get kinda messy when a release was updated multiple times, like here

i don’t know the specifics of this release; i just went through the updated release tag

or here

or when you have no idea when the change was made, like here

here are some more forum discussions about this! there are quite a few

another edit (sorry, i keep remembering things i didn’t say)

if the release is CONSTANTLY evolving, like new songs added every week, usually people won’t add a new release for every single one of those, opting instead for a series, or holding off on adding the release entirely until it’s ‘completed’.


Thanks for the quick response!

The original song was up without the credit up until a few months ago (and was released in 2017). Not sure what that merits, considering it’s the only thing that changed.

This artist is known for changing their album covers / artist “name”, per release, repeatedly. In some instances, it seems like people have kept up with this and created multiple releases, but for some other release groups that’s not the case.

I think I’ll try to make it standard to create new releases for all of these changes, but my biggest concern is that doing this retroactively means I don’t know the exact date that any of these changes were made. Should I keep the release date the same on all of the releases and just set the old ones as “withdrawn”? or have no date if I’m not sure when the change was made.

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what i do is use the date the change was made, & leave it blank if i don’t know (or just put a year if i have a pretty good idea). whether to use “withdrawn” or not will vary from person-to-person, i think. most people probably don’t mark the original ones as withdrawn. lately i only do it if there’s a clear reason why it was changed (changing the titles/coverart for copyright reasons or something. something that makes it clear that the artist doesn’t want the original version to be in their discography anymore).

there’s also a “replaced by” relationship which can be used to link two releases together in this situation. i don’t use it as much as i probably should since i’m not really sure how to make it work when a release was changed multiple times, haha.

ultimately just do your best, & use annotations whenever you can!

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The immediate concern I have is how the album would show up in my music player. I don’t really want an album that came out a few years ago to say it came out a few months ago just because the artist changed the album cover. I guess if this is the way that musicbrainz wants it to be done then I guess I’ll just deal with it :person_shrugging:

You don’t have to:


But I don’t necessarily always want this. If I have a release which actually makes significant changes, like adding another track, I’m fine with having the date be different. But when the change is only cosmetic and it doesn’t seem like the artist really “intenteded” to “re-release” the album I don’t want a later date.


This is what MB has always done with physical CDs/LPs. For example, date change occur when a CD is manufactured at a different plant, or some copyright text is re-written on a back cover. These have all caused a new Release to be added with a new date - or often no date.

By default, Picard sets the date to when your actual version was created. This is why that script exists to replace this with the Original Release date.


i can empathize with this; i’m like that with some artists. with others (like la pumpkin or $WAGGOT [second example]) i prefer to have every single version of the album even with minor cosmetic differences, like different color correcting on the cover lol. & i’d like those to be properly dated.

i know this is a lame solution but unfortunately it’s probably something you’ll have to adjust on a release-by-release basis in your own tags