Music Business Association Style Guide

A series of editing disputes prompted me to wonder if the music industry as a whole had settled on any sort of style guide. In my internet search, I found out about the Music Business Association (, and the style guide that they published (

I’m not sure how “official” that guide is. There’s apparently no way to navigate to it from their main homepage, as far as I can find. I’ve also found references to a newer version of the guide, v2.1, which I can’t find anywhere.

Still, the existence of this guide is an indication that the music industry is at least considering implementing some standards in the area of metadata, and it seems to me that MusicBrainz should naturally be interested in following the same standards that the music industry follows. MusicBiz’s website claims that their membership represents "…more than 90 percent of the industry at large.

As an example of how this guide could benefit MB, take the example of the edits I referred to. The primary question that underlies the debate has to do with soundtrack albums, and whether phrases like “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” are subtitles or ETI. Page 12 of the MusicBiz style guide answers this question specifically:

Has MetaBrainz considered aligning its style guidelines with this music industry style document? At the very least, it could answer some questions, like the one just mentioned. It would be good if a bit more clarity could be included in the MB style guides, and making sure MB is in alignment with the music industry seems like a good idea.


I don’t agree with that. Our standards are older and community-created, we should not change them just because some organization claimed to represent some large fraction of the “industry” says so.

I especially notice the absence of some major streaming platforms from their members list (e.g. Spotify and Deezer).


I don’t see Deezer, but Spotify is on the list, and they contributed to the style guide.

I don’t know about changing all our guidelines to match, but we probably ought to keep this guide in mind for new MusicBrainz guidelines or proposed changes.

that said, it could be a good idea to use this as secondary guidelines for when MusicBrainz doesn’t have guidelines that apply.

edit: for example, their guidelines for releases as part of a series, the series title should be part of the release title. a few examples:


It is not clear to me that MusicBiz term “subtitle” corresponds to the MusicBrainz term “subtitle”. Note that they say, “subtitle versus including them in the main title”. Thus maybe their term “subtitle” means “any text which is not in the main title”, and encompasses both our terms “Subtitle” and “Extra Title Information”.

It would be clearer if we could find where MusicBiz talks about what MusicBrainz calls “Extra Title Information”.

It sure confuses me that both MusicBiz and MusicBrainz start with “MusicB” and end with “z” and have an “i” in the middle. Can we get them to change their domain name? (Just kidding :slight_smile: )


That seems to be the case. In the sample they give directly below the guideline, they put “Original Motion Picture Soundtrack” in parentheses:

Album title: Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

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