MusicBrainz UI request: deal well with cascading Artist editing during Edit Relationships

Continuing the discussion from Your favourite User Scripts for MusicBrainz?! (so that they can be used while redesigning!):

That’s great to hear! I have a usability problem which I would like to add to your list of things to consider. It is not directly related to userscripts.

Many of the releases I add are of new classical music by local, little-known performers, composers, and recording crew. That means, when I add relationships, I frequently discover that the Artist I want in the relationship is not in MusicBrainz, or is in MusicBrainz but as a minimal entry that might well be for a different person.

Problem 1: when entering an Artist-Recording Relationship in the Relationship Editor, I search for an Artist by name. Musicbrainz finds a single Artist with that name, and with no disambiguation. How can I be sure that is the correct Artist?

What I do now: I accept that artist. Musicbrainz gives me the name of the artist in the Relationship dialogue, with a hyperlink to the Artist entry. I open a new tab to the Artist entry, using that hyperlink. I look at the Relationships to find out what else that Artist has been doing. Especially for recording crew and for performers who aren’t Album Artists, the Relationships tell the story more than the Artist’s discography. Then I will probably add a disambiguation comment, and link to official homepage and/or wikipedia article, if I can find them. Then I go back to the Relationship dialogue, search for the Artist name again, get one result again, and this time click “Add a new Artist”. A second dialogue, for the new Artist, appears.

What I want: a better way to look at a candidate Artist in search results while adding a Relationship, so that I can be sure I am linking to the right entry, and that I don’t need to create a new entry. Just seeing the name and disambiguation string frequently doesn’t give me enough information.

Problem 2: when adding an Artist while already adding a Relationship, I’m in a cascade of dialogues. Limitations ensue. Sometimes a good way to make it clear who an Artist is, is to add a Relationship from the new Artist to a group of which they are a member. If there is no MB entry for that group, then I’m wanting to add a second Artist (for the group) while adding a first Artist (for the performer), while editing a Relationship (for that performer on that Release). Musicbrainz won’t permit this third level of cascade.

What I want: a way to be able to create a new Artist, add a new Group so that I can indicate the Artist is a member of a group, all while entering a Relationship.

Problem 3: I have a Release with multiple tracks, one for each of a multi-movement work. There is no entry in MB for this Work or for its parts. The Release Editor will create Work entries for the parts which correspond to the Recordings. It makes it easy to add a Composer relationship to each of those new Work entries. However, it doesn’t make it easy to create a parent Work entry which contains all the part Work entries.

What I want: some way from the Release editor to say, create per-Recording Work entries, and also create a parent Work above them. The parent work gets the same Artist-Work relationships, e.g. Composer and Lyricist. The part Works are marked as ordered, and have the same order as on the tracks of the Release.

In my experience the hard and timeconsuming part of creating a good Release entry in MusicBrainz is not the track list entry, or the relationship editing, it is creating good Artist entries which both describe the Release and make the Artist clear for future editors. To a lesser extent, creating good parent Work entries is also tedious.

I don’t think having a deeper and deeper cascade of modal edit dialogues is the solution. Maybe what would work is a tabular layout of Artists and Works being edited, like note cards laid out on a table. The editor can create new Artists, leave them half-finished, and create some more. Being able to switch back and forth between different Artist entries is helpful. Then the editor finishes them up one by one, and when they are all finished, the Relationship Editor can save.

My present workaround for this is to divide entering of a Release into two steps. First, create Artist entries for each Artist mentioned on the Release’s credits. At least for every album artist, composer, librettist, and major performer. Often for all the recording crew as well. And, I may be editing entries for Artists which have a similar name to one of my Artists, but are not the same person or group. That way, for each of them I’m working in a separate tab, and I can switch between them. Once the Artist entries are all created and improved, only then do I start entering the Release and adding its Relationships.

Because I’m working with classical music, the composer matters. The only way to get the composer indicated well in MusicBrainz is to have a Composer relationship between Work and Artist (Track Artists and Release Artists are an unsatisfactory hack). This in turn means that a Release entry without Relationships is incomplete for my purposes.

Because I’m working with Releases from local, little known performers and composers, it’s more likely that I will have to create entries for Artists and Works. If I’m entering a Release with a world-premiere recording, then it’s pretty unlikely that someone will have created that Work entry in MB already.

I hope this is informative. I’m happy to answer questions if you’d like.
—Jim DeLaHunt


Hi @Jim_DeLaHunt for starting this discussion. :slight_smile: I read it. It gives some significant insights into the editing workflow. Right now, we are targetting the entity pages (only display, no editing interface). This itself shall take a few months.

Once I start work on editing interface, I will revisit this post and start more relevant discussion threads. I will keep you updated.

Thanks again, Chhavi.


The create-sub-works-for-a-work sounds like userscript fodder. Create the parent work with composer etc, and the userscript does the rest. The other direction is too tricky (what if not all the parts you select have the same relationships? etc.)

Third-level dialogs can be worked around by opening a new tab for the second-level entity and editing its relationships.

But yes, better disambig info in searches would be nice (but is not easy to arrange).

I agree that it may be possible to implement as a userscript. I think it would be even better to have this as an integrated part of of the MusicBrainz editing experience. Similarly, workarounds exist for the other stuff.

But the point of this thread is to identify requirements and so make MusicBrainz better. Existence of workarounds, or the observation that meeting requirements is hard, does not help identify requirements or get MusicBrainz to that better state.