Is Digital Media good name?

I’m waiting for the Digital Media addicts to chime in properlly here.

Look at the list as it currently stands

Even better, go and look at the actual drop down selections.

That is a list of all the different ways music has been packaged over the decades. The package that we can physically hold in our hands.

The trouble with “Digital Media” is we have nothing to hold in our hands… so it doesn’t really fit in that “Medium” list.

So why is there not a “Digital Files” with sections for FLAC, MP3, AAC and the type of file supplied?

Or something specific to “Digital Streaming”?

This could get messy… I’ve seen those threads before


OK, I’ll bite, but I’ll still attempt to preempt the discussion!

I say I would love to have sub formats for bitrates etc, and it would be useful for people who browse and purchase digital media (92kbps is not the same as FLAC).

People respond:
a: it would clutter release pages
b: then we would have to add 10 releases for every bandcamp release, which is dumb
c: who cares, merge all digital media releases

I respond:
a: we are well equipped for this and it has never been an issue
b: nobody is proposing this, and there’s solutions, like being able to select multiple bitrates for one release or have a ‘multiple digital formats’ catch-all for these
c: good for you

People respond again with slight variations on the first lot of a,b,c, discussion peters off (and there’s no/few digital media addicts around to weigh in because MB doesn’t really cater to them, so why would they be here).

Okay… that was a kind of grumpy/jaded response - but also probably saved a bit of time and back and forth :grin::grin::grin:


In terms of what jesus2099 is trying to address in his original post, I think this is even more confusing to the layman. I think digital is a key word I need to see when scrolling through the list - jesus2099 is saying that he thinks download is what people want to see.
Maybe with sub categories that include one of or both of those terms it would be a non-issue though


I would consider myself a “digital addict” in the sense that 99% of my music and the stuff I add to the database is and came from “Digital Media” (and I do also make an effort to keep my local music library in lossless quality).

The main reason I think tracking digital formats and bitrates in the database isn’t particularly useful is the way you can trivially convert between them, I can just turn a FLAC into an MP3 file without asking anyone, but I can’t turn e.g. a CD into a Vinyl. In fact most online stores that even have format options (e.g. Bandcamp) do this, you upload a single, preferably lossless, master copy and their server goes and converts it to the many formats you get offered when downloading. They might remove formats when they decide they aren’t popular enough or trivially add new ones across their entire store if something new comes along.


Another “digital addict” here (with over 2000 digital releases added).

To answer quickly:

  • It’s usually referred to as “BUY” and otherwise as “STREAM” :smiley:
  • I’m mostly seeing “download” used in sentence such as “will be available for download as well as on cd and vinyl”.
  • Bandcamp has always been using the “Digital Album” term, just look up any BC release.
  • I’ve seen many, many social media posts by artists or labels using the very same “Digital Album” term or referring to it as “available digitally”. Now this is anecdotal, but I’d say it’s almost as common as “available for download”.
  • Many “vinyl only” releases come with a “download code” that links you to either mp3 or even lossless master files for the release. I think download codes sometimes appear with CDs too, but I can’t recall now.

So in terms of terminology this boils down to dispute between what’s technically hyper correct (CDs are digital too after all!) and what’s actually commonly used. Now IMHO the term ‘digital’ is almost synonymous nowadays with downloadable music files.


Ok so this post and some previous ones really seem to settle my interrogations and it seems that DIGITAL MEDIA is quite well chosen in the end.
Thank you all. :smiling_face::+1:


This is where I find it useful to distinguish a release that has been uploaded in a lossy format/doesn’t have those options.

Otherwise good points all round!

Here’s an example of what I’m on about:


How many releases? I’d say five is reasonable, with two “Digital Media” ones (“Streaming” and “MP3” (Download))

I can see how that might be appealing, but I personally can’t think of a way this could 1. be actually useful and 2. not involve adding an extreme and wildly fluctuating amount of releases for every release that appears digitally (because if we differentiate between two access modes on the Amazon platform, we should also differentiate between different providers, as terms and access methodologies vary as well).

On a more general note, it’s hard to reliably define a technical boundary between streaming and downloading (because streaming is just downloading on a technical level, the only difference being that the client doesn’t bother to actually save the downloaded data. And even that gets muddied with applications like Spotify which might save the data anyway, for caching or offline availability reasons), whereas with physical media you can tell with basically absolute certainty if a medium is e.g. a CD or one of its less common subtypes, even if the actual differences may be very small.


Another thing with this is that with “streaming” you’re not actually getting that release, it’s just access to the whole steaming service. In which case we can just use relationships to indicate that it’s available for streaming, it doesn’t need a new release.


Last I checked Amazon MP3 + Streaming products, you would have “Audio CD” have one unique ASIN (Amazon identifier), “Vinyl” would have another unique ASIN, “Audio, Cassette” would have a third ASIN… but “Streaming” and “MP3” would both have the same (fourth) ASIN, suggesting that, in the “eyes” of Amazon at least, those two are the same product.

Maybe it’s different now though?


Probably a sub-optimal example.

My point is (which seems to be a minority position) is that there is a qualitative difference between music that you stream (plays from the internet, if you lose your connection the music stops) and music that you download (MP3/FLAC gets put on your device, you “own” it, you can play it whenever you like).

But I’m not going to the mattresses over this one, and if the majority feels otherwise that’s OK.

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I agree with that distinction, but it doesn’t make it a different release. It’s closer to a radio station, where the radio station owns the album but you hear the music, too. Streaming is not a release, it’s a radio station with more audience control over what plays when.


The problem is, some artists already publish exclusively for streaming, be it free streaming-only releases (e.g. SoundCloud albums/mixtapes w/o download option) or semi-paywalled ones (e.g. Spotify). And given the fact that Apple is toying with ditching downloads altogether, we might see the rise of these ephemeral releases in the near future.


Hi guys,

I feel akin to a Necromancer casting a Raise Dead spell on a topic that has remained dormant for over four years. However, circumstances have undoubtedly evolved, and I would like to cordially introduce some crucial points for our consideration, potentially leading to the adoption of some suggestions.

To provide some context for revisiting this discussion, I would like to highlight the following:

1- Different releases are being distributed by various Streaming Services.
2- Streaming Services are introducing new, exclusive versions of Recordings (represented by new ISRCs).
3- The release dates across different Streaming Services often vary significantly.
4- The tenfold growth of Digital Commerce has led to the generation of even more specific releases.

The outcome is an increasingly overwhelming amount of information that needs to be added to the “Annotation” and “Disambiguation” fields. As we’re aware, these fields are typically not parsed to Picard and other services.

I sincerely believe it is time for us to contemplate some potential solutions. Here are a few ideas that spring to mind:
A) Introduce sub-categories for Digital Media, indicating the specific streaming service, digital commerce platform, etc.
B) Divide Digital Media into two categories: Streaming and Digital Asset.
C) Incorporate additional fields within the Digital Media category, allowing for the selection of more specific details.

In conclusion, I understand that every modification or update can be challenging, and we tend to find comfort in familiarity. However, I implore you to approach this with an open mind and visualize the potential enhancements these changes could bring about.


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A downloadable release vs. a streaming release if they have the same barcode, labels, cover art, etc. are both the same release. It would be nice to have attributes, however, that can be added to the annotation if desired. The specific streaming service can be determined by the linked URL. Your proposal, I believe, would create tons of unnecessary duplicate releases. After years of editing digital media releases, it can be very difficult sometimes to determine true release dates, etc. You can already add when a certain streaming service added a release by adding the date to the URL, especially if it was after the releases release date. I’d be very opposed to separating streaming vs. downloadable if that was the only difference.


i have to agree with @tigerman325 here.

i re-read this thread just to make sure i understood everyone’s points, and as a certified digital media addict™ who does love to keep different digital media separate if there’s even the slightest difference, i don’t really think streaming vs download is a practical distinction to make.

one big problem i can think of is i don’t really know of many major download stores that don’t let you stream the music too. the same bandcamp link can be “streaming” or “download” (depending on the settings the artist chooses). same with soundcloud.

to be honest, with the thousands of digital media releases i’ve added (and tens of thousands i’ve tagged), i just really haven’t noticed a problem with how musicbrainz handles them.

sometimes i do wish there were per-link attributes you could select (a little checkbox like we do with “video” that says “lossless”, “lossy”, “fancy high-quality”, etc.), but as someone who runs a teeny tiny label, i’ve tragically personally had to convert lossy mp3s to FLACs just to upload them to bandcamp because the artist is unable to render lossless audio. i know i can’t be the only one that has to do this. so i feel like it’d be a lot of extra work to determine whether the “lossless formats” are actually lossless or if they’re just upscales.

when you enter a link, you can already select “stream for free”, “streaming page”, “purchase for download”, “download for free”… i just don’t feel like any further clarification is necessary. it might be kinda cool if a little icon appeared somewhere that meant “available to download” or “available to stream” if a certain type of link is detected, though. i haven’t thought it through that much so don’t quote me on that lol.

it would also be a nice “red flag” if you could immediately spot these icons on releases set to physical media… but that’s off topic. maybe someone smarter than me could make a userscript for that?

in terms of exclusive versions on different streaming platforms, i don’t see anything wrong with the current approach of adding a disambiguation that says (iTunes exclusive) or something like that. i know it doesn’t transfer to tags on Picard, but if you have a version with completely different tracks it should be quite simple to select the correct release to tag, even without the additional information.


I don’t personally see any gain from having this data in the medium field which we don’t already gain by the URL relationships for any such streaming page, store page, etc…

if you could select both, I wouldn’t have an issue with denoting a release as streaming and/or downloadable. that said, with how medium types currently work, I don’t see a way of making that work, unless we add three new types (streaming, download, and streaming/download)

another (perhaps better) solution would be to simply use the already existing “Purchase for download”, “Download for free”, “Streaming page”, and “Stream for free” relationships, and make those more visible on the release group page? kinda like @teethfairy mentioned above

for what it’s worth, Rate Your Music handles this quite well with a couple checkboxes. however, they’ve got a very different setup for medium types and whatnot…

like what sort of details, besides the ones mentioned above?

if we do subdivide Digital Media, I suppose I could maybe see options for lossy, lossless, and high-resolution, but it has been discussed elsewhere that it can be difficult to seperate these three (and I think a recent consensus is to merge high-res releases with other digital media releases as mentioned here and elsewhere on the forums)

all that said, I think how it’s currently handled is perfectly sufficient for how I use MusicBrainz (save for making whether a release is downloadable more visible)

to answer the question in the topic title, I think digital media works fine, but online distribution or digital distribution could be acceptable alternatives…


Digging up 4 year old threads with a post that seems very much like it was written by ChatGPT or some other LLM is not a good use of anyone’s time.


I understand your point that we need to avoid unnecessary duplication of releases that are simply from different sources. This brings me to an issue I’ve frequently encountered as a relatively new contributor.

The vast majority of digital media are direct copies of physical releases. This trend has only started to change in recent years, with artists now beginning to create exclusive digital releases, or streaming platforms remastering old releases. Given this, are you suggesting we should refrain from adding a digital release if it replicates a physical one?

To illustrate, let’s consider the release group “Blue Hawaii” by Elvis Presley:

I appreciate the disambiguation in the title, “mastered for iTunes”, which clearly indicates that this is a new release from iTunes. But what about other versions from Spotify or an MP3 I purchased from Amazon?

While we could choose to disregard these releases, wouldn’t it be more in line with our mission to document those releases? Certainly, this creates similar entries, but isn’t this also true for CD and LP releases? Why would an iTunes, Amazon, or Spotify releases not warrant separate entries?

To conclude my point, if I were to add two new entries to “Blue Hawaii”, with the disambiguation “(Spotify remastered version)” and “(Amazon MP3 album)”, would that be acceptable?

I greatly value your input and it appears we share a common tendency towards perfectionism. You’ve raised a significant point about linking. Although links can convey useful information, we should remember that many users rely on MusicBrainz primarily as a data source for various apps, softwares, and websites, where the linked information might not be utilized fully.

With regards to the use of disambiguation, it’s clear we could start ignoring different types and sources of digital release. However, as I mention to tiger, isn’t our goal here to document all releases? As we move further into the digital age, I believe the disambiguation field will become increasingly essential. In fact, the ability to document Digital Media is one of the significant advantages MusicBrainz has over Discogs.

I’m of the belief that introducing sub-groups for digital media could greatly reduce the need for disambiguation. It seems to be a feasible solution that would improve both visual clarity and parsing capabilities. Of course, creating such categories/sub-categories would require careful thought and consideration, but it could ultimately make the use of disambiguation less necessary, as illustrated in my Elvis example. Your suggestion of categorizing into “(streaming, download, and streaming/download)” is a welcome idea.

I do appreciate the steps forward made by RYM in this area, and it would be wonderful if we could implement something similar.

In your concluding remarks, you noted our current handling of the Disambiguation field is “okay”, but we both agree there is room for improvements. Right?

haaha! Well, English isn’t my mother tongue, but I’ve recruited a trusty AI-powered corrector/revisor to lend a hand. Seems like AI is all the rage these days, infiltrating about 90% of correctors on the market. Isn’t it just so beautifully 2023? Welcome to the future, my friend!