On Music Automatically Uploaded to Youtube ('Topic' pages)

Hello! I had some general observations and questions on some of these automatically added videos as I think they seem to be a decent source for information.

Just to clarify what I am talking about: Youtube will have videos that have a note at the bottom of the description stating they are ‘Auto-generated by YouTube.’ Originally these always showed up on channels of the format “{Artist} - Topic”, but as Artists can claim these pages they can be merged with existing Youtube channels.

Using the music.youtube.com frontend, one can generally see these videos under the “Songs” section of an artist’s profile. More interesting though is the ‘Albums’ and ‘Singles’ section on music.youtube.com, which often include a number of discography entries for the selected artist. These will always have an associated playlist which, from what I can tell, are always playlists made of auto-generated videos. The auto-generated videos very often have meta data in their descriptions which can be helpful as a secondary source of information. The metadata will only be shown on the www.youtube.com domain, not the music.youtube.com domain. The URL format is interchangeable for both domains though, so if you have a link of the form


You can easily visit the www equivalent by changing the third level domain:


(Another note, if you want to stream an album; if you view these ‘Album’ playlists on music.youtube.com, the artist can prioritize a music video over the static audio video when you play a track. If you want just ‘audio’ with a static image video, you can visit the www.youtube.com equivalent instead, which will always give the auto-generated video. You can play with this with the example, as half of the tracks in the album on music.youtube.com are redirected to the music video equivalent, but this doesn’t happen when viewing from www.youtube.com).

You know you have an auto generated playlist when the playlist id starts with OLAK5uy_. The playlist ID is the string of garbage-looking characters after ?list=, and in the above example, the Playlist ID is OLAK5uy_nacpVF5ykESFyqIjhN1towfUdU2rUPqxY.

Also, the thumbnail for these auto generated playlists will have an appropriately sized image, so if you are looking for artwork you can often find an image attached to these playlists. The quality doesn’t seem too bad for them either. The above example has a 544x544 jpeg.

The metadata is, from what I can tell, always in the video descriptions, not the playlist description. The metadata will contain things like the copyright holder (and who provided the audio / data to youtube), and oftentimes the composer, arranger, release date, and other potentially relevant info.

The question I had though was, where does Youtube fetch this info from? It would be easier to consider it credible if there was some way to figure out where the info comes from in the first place. Some proprietary database? I would think it would also help determine which release (within a release group) a playlist is referencing. I’m hesitant to trust the data as it is otherwise.

I’ve also wondered if there is an API interface that one can get this data in a computer consumable format (i.e. JSON). I know I sometimes see edits with references to JSON files from iTunes’ and Deezer’s API. I’ve wondered if such a thing exists mostly because I’ve wondered if it would answer the previous question. I suppose a JSON file could also help aid in creating a template for a release, but dunno.

Also, does anyone have an opinion on adding these auto-generated playlists as a ‘Stream for Free’ relationship on MusicBrainz? From what I can tell they are licensed so I don’t think that is a concern. If one would like them, would people prefer them to be added with the ‘www’ or ‘music’ subdomain? Also, would one say they are ‘videos’ or not? (I’d personally argue they’re not videos, and I prefer the original Youtube interface).

Also, just to clarify, these auto-generated albums are never releases on themselves, they are always just a means of accessing an existing release. They should never be considered a digital release and warrant a new entry.


The quality of these auto-generated playlists can be pretty ropey at times. I saw one assembled for “Dark Side of the Moon” that ended up including live tracks mixed in among album tracks. Even more confusing was it not only change between music. and www. as you describe, but also if you were logged in or not.


To upload music to the big streaming services you usually use a platform like DistroKid, CDBaby, etc. You can’t upload to Spotify at all, and some other platforms, without going through one of these.

Those platforms will distribute to a whole bunch of services at once. There is a fee per release, which doesn’t change based on how many platforms you select, so I imagine most artists/labels just do them all.

I’ve always assumed that the YouTube auto-playlists/albums come from these distributors.

Here’s a screenshot from CDBaby, with all the platform options, including YouTube Music:

I’m not a big YouTube/YouTube Music user, so take my assumptions with a grain of salt!

I have already read a topic about these generated YouTube channels in the past but I don’t remember if it was concluded that we should link them or not.

Ah I found them back.
I was afraid it was on the old forum, but no, it’s here:

You can have a look, @MatchaTeaCookies.

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I would actually consider them the same release as the Spotify/Deezer/Apple Music release, since these were also likely through the same distributor (unless I can tell it wasn’t released through the same distributor), as @aerozol points out above. I’ve actually added distribution relationships based on the description in some cases

that said, I don’t know for certain where this data comes from. I would guess that it comes from the artist or label when they submit it through their distributor, but I’m not 100% sure

typically when I add one of these releases, I’ll favor the YouTube Music link over the video link. since they are just a still image, I wouldn’t consider these to be videos

I didn’t actually know this part, I just knew that these releases show up on YouTube as playlists, while on YouTube music, they’re albums or EPs or whatnot

The same source as everyone else: DDEX

YouTube Music “playlists” and channels should always use music.youtube.com:

sigma67/ytmusicapi is probably the closest you’ll get.

That doesn’t seem to hold true. I’ve got YouTube Premium and never see videos on YouTube Music unless I manually enable it. (It also doesn’t stick, once playback advances to a track without a video I need to re-enable it)

Moreover if I switch a YouTube listing of a release to YouTube Music I’m redirected to a different “playlist” without any videos.

For example:
from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCk-lyi0xQaoeFVBy_UDPA/releases
redirects to
which consists of art tracks only:

However in the YouTube Music interface I can enable the videos for either playlist.


I think that particular thread was about if automatic channels should be added to a Artist’s page (musicbrainz.org/artist/*). My particular query was about if releases (musicbrainz.org/release/*) should have a Youtube Music playlist / release attached as a relationship. Particularly, this one. You generally see this relationship added for Spotify and Deezer URLs and generally don’t see the Youtube Music URL added so I thought I’d ask. Sorry for the confusion.

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I would actually consider them the same release as the Spotify/Deezer/Apple Music release, since these were also likely through the same distributor (unless I can tell it wasn’t released through the same distributor), as @aerozol points out above. I’ve actually added distribution relationships based on the description in some cases

Right, sorry, I probably shouldn’t have worded it like that; it was a bit forceful on a matter I’m rather fuzzy on. I think I was more trying to say that an auto-generated Youtube playlist is, in general, part of a release uploaded to multiple other places; I generally don’t see a unique release on Youtube Music. (An exception that comes to mind was some single containing the full-length ending theme to an anime, which the auto-generated Youtube Music release had a separate karaoke track that no other digital / physical version had that I could see, so I added it as a separate release with the Youtube Music page being the only URL relationship).

(This is out of the scope of this thread, and has been debated before), but I’ve been a bit fuzzy on what qualifies as a separate digital release. My interpretation was that if the digitally accessible versions are clearly rips of an existing release, don’t create a new release, but if there are any distinctions between the digital versions and the physical versions (different tracks / track names, different label, different cover art, additional goods supplied w/ purchase of said digital release, the artist clearly has intention to have an otherwise separate ‘digital release’) then the digital version needs a new release. An older release that is made accessible online, say Neil Diamond - The Feel of Neil Diamond (Youtube Music), probably shouldn’t get a separate release for the digitally accessible version I would think. The style guideline kinda talks about when (not) to add a new release but really doesn’t explicitly state when if a digitally accessible version(s) should qualify as a separate release. I don’t want to carry on about this too much here but if someone has a link to a post / wiki page on this particular matter I would appreciate it.

I’m wondering if the ‘music video playback’ on YouTube Music is an artifact from not being logged in / not having YT / YTM Premium. I always wander onto YouTube Music mostly because I don’t have to log in to play an certain album :sweat_smile:. The option to not play music videos on YouTube Music (and instead play the ‘static image video’) isn’t an option as far as I can tell when logged out (at least on my client). The only workaround is to view a ‘playlist’ that is from a YouTube Music release in the YouTube interface. Don’t know if this is unintentional or not, as perhaps being able to view the ‘static image video’ is supposed to be a Premium feature in the first place when the artist / whomever controls the artist’s page prefers the music video to be displayed on YouTube. Didn’t realize that was the case if it is.

The process you explained above works the same on my client; YouTube Music also redirects the first link to a ‘static image video’ only list. However, playing the redirected list in YTM will always show music videos, while viewing the playlist that YTM redirected to in YouTube will give me the ‘static image video.’ Maybe later I’ll play around with this with a google account later to see if it acts different.

Also, I didn’t realize there was a ticket page for MetaBrainz. Thank you for linking that.

(Sorry for creating multiple posts. I didn’t realize you could quote multiple people in a post oof)