Non-clasical works question

I decided to take a walk on the wild side this afternoon and started playing with “works”. I was able to apply/attach some “easy” ones, but stopped short of creating/adding any. I also did not apply/attach a couple of existing ones because they confused me by the amount of “extra” information that came with (all of which had “x’s” to remove each of the extra data (I assume).

In the following case it looked like to me like most of the “extras” are publishers that do not have relevance to my release. While my release on lists Paul Clayton, the works has 8 writers attached and according to secondhandsongs that appears correct (they list only 6).

Gotta Travel On (recording of) ×
× additional writer: Fred Hellerman
× additional writer: Lee Hays
× additional writer: Pete Seeger
× additional writer: Ronnie Gilbert (American folk singer)
× publisher: Anthem Music and Media Fund LLC
× publisher: EMHA
× publisher: Figs D Music
× publisher: Figs D Music, Inc.
× publisher: Freddy Bienstock Music Co.
× publisher: Reel Muzik Werks LLC
× publisher: Sanga Music
× publisher: Sanga Music, Inc.
× publisher: Sony Music Publishing (Japan) Inc.
× publisher: The Bicycle Music Company
× publisher: Wintrup Musikverlag
× writer: Dave Lazer
× writer: David Lazar
× writer: Larry Ehrlich
× writer: Paul Clayton

What do I do here? The “x” makes me think I can selectively remove but does that alter the works record or just my relationship.

I hope what I am asking makes sense.

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Did your walk on the wild side take you to the Edit Relationships page of MusicBrainz? If so, I think I can visualise what you are seeing.

The Edit Relationships page shows you many structures in MusicBrainz at once: Releases, Tracks, Recordings, Works, Artists, and lots and lots of Relationships. That’s great for getting work done, but less helpful for understanding the structures.

Consider clicking on the Work name in the right-hand pane of the Edit Relationships page. You should get to a page with a URL like . The notation /work says that this page describes a Work structure centrally, with less clutter around it than in the Edit Relationships page. Have a look there, and maybe you will see more clearly what relates to what.

If you want to experiment with edits, head over to . That is a MusicBrainz database for experiments. You can click on the “x” and see what happens. You may delete something, but because it’s a test location, that is OK.

Have fun exploring!


Thanks, I have read through many of the guides but am still confused with what I see sometimes, the many publishers being applied to my edit caused be to back out until I understood better what was going on.

Your pointer was great and I did find that for “Indian Love Call” which was the other one I backed out. But, I had to hunt-n-peck for that link, how the heck do you find a “work”? I was going to each recording and working my way down from there until I found a recording with the work attached…

Great question! As in Musicbrainz, things link to other things, so following the links is one good way.

But search is another good way. In the top-right of most pages is a search box, and next to it, a label Artist. Click on that label Artist, and a menu pops down. Select Work from that menu, then type the name of the work into the search box. Click the magnifying-glass icon. Search occurs, and a list of search results appear. All those results are Works. MusicBrainz lets you search for Works, Artists, Releases, Recordings, Places, and any of a number of other things.

And, both searching and link-following are harmless and interesting ways of exploring the MusicBrainz data.

Have fun!


So I have added non-classical works, I generally understand the process, and I have read the style guides, but am a little confused in some overlap in terminology.

I added a digital release that was a tribute to a songwriter/performer and was creating works when I ran into a difference in works attribution. This is “Americana Folk” for the most part.

I was creating the works as “writer” but there exists other works as “composer,lyricist”, what is correct (or more correct? I always thought of composer in the classical sense.

For a given songwriter/performer I have the following questions, from differences I have seen in the database.

What is the difference between “writer” and “composer”?
Does “writer” = “composer + lyricist”?
If the artist is the writer/composer/lyricist/performer for a given work, how should that be attributed?

Does anything I asked make sense?

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I’d been thinking the same as you (just using ‘writer’) but I recently discovered the style guideline for relationships covers this:

Prefer Specific Relationship Types
You should make an effort to make the relationship type as specific as possible. This means that you should avoid any of the generic types if:

the liner or another source specifies which of the subtypes apply, or
you can easily deduce which of the subtypes apply.

Larry Luddecke recorded and mixed Old Dogs, as confirmed by the author’s website. He is linked to the release with Recording and Mix relationships. No generic Engineer relationship is created.
Mogwai wrote I Know You Are but What Am I? . As this is an instrumental track, the writing credit clearly does not apply to any lyrics or libretto. Instead of a Writer relationship, Mogwai are credited using a Composer relationship.
Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote You Got Me Rocking. As their individual roles are unclear - one might have been primarily working on the lyrics, with the other writing the music - the Writer relationship is used. Once more information becomes available, these can be replaced by Composer and/or Lyricist relationships.

I thought I remembered an example in there saying if only one person is credited as “writer” of a song with words, they should be credited as Composer and Lyricist. I don’t see the example but I believe that’s the preferred approach.

Composer is the person who wrote the music, lyricist is the person who wrote the lyrics. These are the more precise credits, so we should use them if we’re absolutely sure we know who did what.
Writer is less precise, it represents a person who contributed to writing the song, but we don’t know what exactly they did.
Like highstrung said, if a song with lyrics has only one writer, then that person must be the composer and lyricist. Similarly, an instrumental has only composers, and a spoken word poem has only lyricists.


Glad I asked before I did any more work, just one “works” to change.