Playlists as releases

The fact that Spotify playlists can’t be linked to releases communicates to me that they shouldn’t be releases.

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If playlists should be allowed as releases, we need to at least add support for linking to their source, right? Until such a ticket goes through, I feel that MB is clearly telling us that we shouldn’t add them in this way.

But, a recording series intuitively seems like the more analogous entity in MB? A list of recordings that already exist on other releases.

As always, the real world is messier than any database scheme anyone can come up with and there will always be arguable cases. For example the fact that playlists now can have cover art. Maybe series should be allowed cover art? The Indie/Rock playlists are released as downloadables, making them more OK as Digital Media bootleg releases, IMO.

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this is very circular. “playlists can’t be releases so spotify playlists shouldn’t be supported → spotify playlists aren’t supported so playlists can’t be releases” etcetera.

MB is not an all-knowing entity; it is a database designed by humans, who have different ideas of what a release is and is not. it isn’t “telling” us anything.

a recording series works better for some playlists, yes, but when a playlist is a release in literally every way but its name, there is no reason to make it a recording series. and besides, wouldn’t the same issues people have with playlists as releases exist with playlists as recording series? what would it truly change?

i do agree that series should be allowed to have coverart, though. would be very helpful to me :wink:

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Rejecting Spotify playlist URLs was a conscious decision:

Some more “Playlist as release” discussions I’ve found:

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There’s two things mixed up in this thread (for which there was further related discussion recently at Playlists?), so to clarify:

Indie/Rock “Playlists”

As brought up earlier by others including @aerozol and @teethfairy, it seems the Indie/Rock Playlists specifically are pirate/bootleg downloadable crap (opinions my own), and as such, thinking of them as Spotify playlists is misleading; they seem to just use Spotify and other similar sites as a (legal) alternative to the download since that’s an option now.

The question for these is: “is a site putting together a large pirate file every month a legit MB bootleg release”? I don’t know the answer for that, really (I would not add them but they seem popular enough to be equivalent to a bootleg CD series).

Personally I’d love to make a style call that anything like this is banned and should not be added (I don’t particularly like aiding piracy while making editing harder for everyone else) but we should have reasonable community near-consensus to make that call. At the very least though, the links to piracy should not be added, including as edit notes - feel free to report any editors adding those and I’ll talk to them and blank / edit the relevant edit notes. If they keep adding piracy links I’ll have to block them, but hopefully they will stop that practice.

Actual streaming-only playlists

There’s certainly cases where a playlist is actually a release in all but name. For example, some Spanish rap music used to be only put out as a playlist of YouTube videos named as an album, with cover art to boot (not sure if those now end up on YouTube Music also as more “legitimate” releases?). Cases like that obviously belong in MusicBrainz, and as such YouTube playlists are not blocked for MB releases.

For most streaming sites, in order to be able to use a song in a playlist it needs to have been added before as part of an album or single or whatever. In those cases, there’s always a more legitimate release than the playlist to add if you want to add music missing from MB. For this reason, Spotify playlist links are currently blocked from releases. I agree that it’s theoretically possible for a label to stop putting out sampler promotional CDs and just make playlists of their music on Spotify and share that. Those promotional releases were IMO barely worth adding to MB (mostly having value only inasmuch as they were a physical collectible thing). As playlists, their value seems to be zero, and I’d suggest just adding the actual music releases they promote. Since they’re not downloadable (unless they have an associated bootleg download, in which case see the first section instead) then there seems to be no use of them in Picard and similar taggers and as such zero reasons why they should be a release over a series (arguably in most cases it’s not worth it for them to be either).

If we find edge cases of playlists which do seem like they should qualify as a release, we can debate if an exception should exist and on which conditions.

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For what it’s worth, if a decision was taken to ban these, then there would certainly be something to act on when seeing those notifications: leaving a note to the editor explaining why they should not be added, and entering a remove edit :slight_smile: “People will keep doing it” is not a reason to not take a decision to forbid something in this case any more than people still driving drunk when it’s forbidden means drunk driving should be allowed :stuck_out_tongue:

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So for clarity, what is a link to piracy? A number of the Indie/Rock Playlist entries are added with links to the website, and there’s usually some link to Mega or whatnot that presumably contains the audio files. Is that a link to piracy, or being one step removed is not?

That’s 100% linking to piracy (the only reason we care about that release is because it is a downloadable pirate release) and we should not allow it.

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I presume the links on the Indie/Rock Playlist label to their website and twitter are also piracy?

re. banning the Indie/Rock compilations

It’s clear that a lot of MB editors don’t like this series (e.g. because of notifications + it takes time to merge recordings), which I understand, but I don’t think that’s a basis for banning something.

I’ve found it tough to see how little some editors have looked into these releases - it seems like a “I don’t like this, here are the reasons why we can remove it”, rather than a “I don’t like this, let’s check if it should be removed” situation, which is disheartening. For instance, Spotify is completely irrelevant to the ‘Indie/Rock Playlist’ discussion, but keeps coming up somehow.

Is it big? Yes. Does it causes a lot of notifications? Yes. Is it more illegal than a Russian Pink Floyd pirate CD? No. Is it much more widespread/notable than a Russian Pink Floyd pirate CD? Yes.

Considerations like that make me feel that embedded MB users, who aren’t really fans of digital anyway, are the ones leading this discussion. I feel our newer and younger users are often the ones arguing for better digital coverage (if and when they have the heart to enter The Pit).

re. Spotify playlists

I don’t think this is correct in all situations, and I see this increasing. The main one where it’s going to come up is soundtracks, where licensing the tracks for a separate release is going to be annoying and expensive for the label, but it would be a loss not to include these collections in MB.

@teethfairy’s collection probably has the best examples and tl;dr of the edge cases.

It certainly isn’t! You have taken my comment out of context - that was in reply to the notifications being annoying, as a basis for banning these compilations. This won’t help with that.

On the other hand I think “people keep doing it” is a good indicator of how widespread these bootlegs are, and that they are useful to a lot of users.

re. piracy links

Usually I’m very careful not to add bootleg links in edit notes, but I admit I have been lax on this series. Part of it is because they post so publicly, on social media etc, since 2006, and their sites haven’t been taken down. They take a lot of artist submissions as well/have permission for a lot of tracks (it seems unlikely they got permission from the bigger ones so I would guess that they are still bootlegs). I’ll be more careful in future.

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I think that most of my points have already been voiced here. I’ve put some general headings to break this out as this will be long.

Yes I agree playlists made by your mate Dave on Spotify and made public shouldn’t be in the database.
Yes I currently agree playlists made by Spotify, artists or similar large entities like record labels shouldn’t be in the database as a release [examples at bottom of post].

I personally think that a digital bootleg is a release, regardless of its name (many of them will have semi-official sounding titles to reel people in). I don’t think these bootlegs are as popular as they were back in the heady days of blog and forum popularity, and for those I think there is some digital archealogoy interest present. I’ve (surprisingly considering my tastes) never really bothered with indie/rock compilation bootlegs but have downloaded plenty of “EDM” variants which can include ~100 mp3 tracks of various states of legitimacy - they may not explicitly have the word playlist in them, but even if they do I’d still consider adding them as a release and setting the status to bootleg.

Muting notifications is an avenue to explore
I think the ability to mute content notifications from particular “avenues” might benefit some here, as you could state that anything from a particular label. Although I’ve never seen such a notification email, I would hazard a guess a stop-gap would be to use the automatic rule filters available in most popular email services to just read and delete when there’s a match against a phrase.

Approaching what should and shouldn’t be recorded in a level-headed manner
I don’t want this to get into the sticky, and rather harmful, opinions of “well this has no historical relevancy to ME thus it has no historical relevancy to ANYONE” - that’s not very fair, I personally might not give two hoots about a slightly different recording of a Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan or Grateful Dead concert but I know that the big fanbases these artists attract DO care. I know everyone approaches MBz differently and has different motivations and objectives of what they want to get out of the project, but if you’re really dedicated to “the cause” then a level of ambiguity towards what data is submitted has to come into play. That means not only big mainstream releases are covered, but so are DIY CD-R’s from a one-man-band who plays in your local town hall, so are teenagers making experimental music in their bedrooms developing new genres and styles, so are physical and digital shovelware releases for musical detritus like panpipes, meditation music, sound effects, library music and royalty free music. I know there are a few people who get mad and pee their pants when their favourite musicians release isn’t covered on MBz but to them I say “go forth and add it”. Everyone here is spinning in their own circles, the platform is a way of bringing those circles together to produce a coherent product.

Using the actual playlists as evidence for merging…
These releases are problematic due to their name and the fact they have been released with a playlist link; I can tell you (as someone who participated in the art himself) that there are thousands of playlists on these platforms that mirror compilations that aren’t on the platform in their own. These playlists of course are useful to the listener but should not be used as a method of working out “matches” as they will simply go for the most popular version (i.e. the download might include a particular mix or edit that Spotify doesn’t have, so the uploader will compromise with the album version, which they do thave).

Trying to keep the peace and working out solutions to this
The MB-sphere already has ways to record playlists, ListenBrainz has the functionality at the moment and I’m sure some aspiring nerd among us could probably script something to import playlists from Spotify. Now LB’s playlists are considered personal to the user, but I’m sure there would be ways of making them “public”.

Of course that could end up with duplicate playlists, and doesn’t really serve as a historical document - which is sort of one of the base goals of MBz - to be a record of what was released, when, what was on it etc.

So then the question comes is there value in creating a new entity type called Playlist in MBz with the idea that it captures these problem entities without trying to force them into the established release entity type. Maybe, but then where does that end - do we say “only playlists curated by XYZ are allowed” or is it a “anything goes” approach (again see previous points about the difference between “of importance to me” vs “importance to others”).

You could argue we do have the ability to create lists within MBz already; either as collections (which I get the general feeling casual users don’t know exists, or find lacking in functionality) or as series (which can end up looking rather messy as these relationships will appear on the track entities themselves).

I don’t think there is a be-all, end-all solution to this issue as it currently stands. And each general entity type should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, although one could argue that if a download for it is available (be it legitimate or not [its usually not]) then it should be a release.


Examples of “Playlists”:

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The main difference between all these and bootleg compilations is that bootleg compilations are not new music, just a new combination of existing music. As such, it feels that at least having a degree of a notability expectation on those makes a lot more sense than doing the same for new music :slight_smile:

That said, I agree that these Indie/Rock playlists do seem to have a reasonable degree of notability so they probably shouldn’t be blocked unless we block all pirate compilations entirely. I don’t think it makes sense to ban pirate compilations just because they’re annoying to edit though (it really isn’t any harder to edit these than a standard compilation, and in fact if you’re ok with the piracy angle it’s probably easier since you can download the files to generate the fingerprints), but I am somewhat tempted to ban them because they are generally outright piracy which I feel we should not be helping promote.

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Agreed to some point, we don’t want to lose the entire project because we’re seen as a portal for downloading/distributing illegitimate content however (sorry I’ll try and stop being like this one day :frowning: ) what about all of the questionable compilations that came out of territories where bootlegs are common-place (and usually physical) such as:

These are obviously outright piracy (actually any bootleg by definition is) but I think they’re interesting and there’s certainly a vested interest in general online for bootleg products (even if it is for richer countries just point at them and go “hahaha this is ridiculous”)

I’m not a lawyer, but I don’t think there is anything that says you can’t document an illegitimate release (either on an online database, in a book, on a television show etc.) just can’t be seen to promoting it or providing avenues to it? [although a difficult thing to work out as you have to really give a URL when submitting the data as proof of evidence, and it’s trivial to go into the edit notes and find the link of concern]

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The problem is this makes it absolutely hopeless to verify these releases.
If this is what the foundation needs to safeguard the sites against legal action, then I can definitely sympathize with that, but then I would advocate just banning these releases. Don’t allow addition of releases where adding proof of said release is not allowed…

EDIT: Some bootleg releases would have info about the release sourcable from some other place, that doesn’t include the download (e.g. a wiki). That would be fine of course. That would align nicely with those having correlation to the more notable releases, while shovelware “best-ofs” won’t have any source except its pirate blog/site.

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Users adding these playlists delinquently and persistently should be banned.

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For one month (they will take a break from the Internet) or permanently.