Merging artists vs "Also performs as" relationship

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I just started to merge Natasha Khan to Bat for Lashes when I found out that there’s an “Also performs as” relationship and from the other side there a “Legal name” relationship pointing back to Natasha Khan. But they are still separate artists with separate IDs.

I only found this related thread Adding an alias to an ‘also performs as’ name?, but there’s not much about when to use also performs as. justcheckingitout said, that it’s often abused, but I don’t know when to use.

Or should they be merged too?

I don’t know this artist, but the question you should try to answer is “Are these two names considered as different projects by the artist?”
Why is the artist using different names?

Depending on the answer, there should be two different artists created in MB each with a separate ID, with a “Also performs as” relationship, or a single one with aliases.

From a quick look at this artist, it seems that “Bat for Lashes” is her solo artist name.
She used “Natasha Khan” when singing with other artists.

This would indicate that the two names related to different artist projects, and therefore should be kept separate. In that case, the “Also performs as” seems appropriate.

When there is an “Also performs as” relationship, you should not set an alias which would duplicate the relationship.

However, for both entries, you could have “Natasha Khan” added as an alias to indicate the legal name of the artist.

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I don’t know why, but it seems that she’s using her stage name for her solo project only. So it is probably appropriate to have two artists.

In fact, I’m not very interested in Natasha Khan/Bat for Lashes, but I’ve thought about Emel Mathlouthi (Arabic script) and EMEL, the international artist with English language lyrics. Could it be that EMEL has Legal name آمال المثلوثي and latter is “Also performing as” EMEL?

(and thanks for explanation!)

I’ve never been a fan of the “separate projects/separate artists” style guide, for a couple reasons:

  1. It relies on the artist actually adopting a separate artist name for a different project. Snoop Dogg and Snoop Lion get separate artist entries for separate projects, but when Paul McCartney makes a Classical record it doesn’t get a separate artist entry because he uses his own name, despite it clearly being a different project from his pop releases.

  2. There are guys like this guy: https://musicbrainz.org/artist/8dd7776e-d690-4386-8f1a-8d4f2e6a875e who seemingly create alts on a whim, sometimes even having alternate artist names on different tracks of the same release. Maybe some of those are separate projects, but most are just artist name performance art.

  3. The original purpose of multiple artist may have been made obsolete by the more flexible artist credit system that has been in place for several years.

Note that that’s just my opinion; as a Musicbrainz editor of course I’d follow the style guide.

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For me, I think of it more as personae than “projects” per se. So when Paul McCartney makes a classical album, he still does it as the persona of “Paul McCartney”, but when Snoop Dogg made a reggae album, he adopted a new persona, “Snoop Lion”. Some artists will weave in and out of multiple styles and music projects as part of their artist persona, and some people will make separate personas whenever they change the key they’re playing in.

Does thinking about it this way make the guideline seem more reasonable?

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Not really, but I will concede that I am deep in the minority opinion.