Currently, the process to determine if any two releases are audibly indistinguishable from each other can be tedious. You have to check that both releases 1. belong to the same release group 2. have the same tracklist 3. share the same recordings for that tracklist, and finally 4. have the same post-recording mastering. When looking at a release group, I would like to quickly know what remasters, deluxe versions, etc. I have to choose from before ultimately making the decision on what release I’d like to add to my collection. The current process, especially when you look at release groups that have upwards of 30 or 40 releases, is daunting at best.
This proposal aims to streamline the process of identifying audibly indistinguishable releases through “editions”.
Basically, every release would have an edition, where an edition is a unique set of a tracklist and mastering. Any releases sharing the same tracklist and post-recording mastering, etc. would share an edition. In essence, any two releases belonging to the same edition should be audibly indistinguishable (besides the inherent audible differences in mediums).
A quick example mockup (note this is not necessarily my idealized ui implementation of the concept):
Another possibility, as stated here, could be to create a view where “editions” are subgroups of a release group that contain all the releases within them. This view could be an alternate or toggle option to still maintain the current view as the default if wanted.
Why would we need this if we already have disambiguation comments?
A couple of potential advantages over disambiguation comments:
- The comments can still be used, but instead of being mostly relegated to edition info, can now describe more subtle differences of a release not obvious on the release group page such as “green vinyl” or “alternative coverart”, etc.
- Ability to quickly distinguish which releases belong to which editions.
- Many times, the non-standardization of disambiguation comments leads me wondering whether a release is just a repress of the orginal, or simply lacking a disambiguation tag; or if a “deluxe” version is the same as the “deluxe” version released 5 years prior, or perhaps contains a different set of bonus tracks?
- e.g. see gkmc’s release group page and try splitting each release into it’s own edition based off the info shown.
- Since editions share a tracklist, we can use this to our advantage. When editing a release’s tracklist, those edits could be propagated to any release sharing the same edition.
- If in the future Musicbrainz allows the sorting or grouping of releases by field, you would be able to sort or group all releases belonging to a specific edition. This seems essential to a serious collector that would like to get any and all different editions of an album or a consumer looking for a specific edition and what available formats they can find it in.
What happens to current releases?
- Since the edition would be an optional field, nothing! There would just be a blank space under “Edition” on the release group page letting you know that a (standardized) edition has not yet been confirmed. Disambiguation comments would still exist and no info would be lost.
- The biggest potential downside (imo) of this proposal would be the transfer of applicable disambiguation comments into editions. However, there’s no rush for this, and the standard going forward would be to use edition titles over disambiguation comments for any edition related info.
Obviously, I haven’t thought of everything, which is why I’m making this post Thoughts?
Edit: Some of my inspiration comes from redacted.ch, the bittorrent successor to the widely popular what.cd, which states the distinction between a release and an edition as follows:
Regarding music albums, releases and editions are two different things. Whereas a release is determined by its release year, imprint, and catalog number (with the optional release title), an edition is determined by the Table of Contents (TOC), peak levels, pre-gaps, and other aspects specific to the audio itself. Every CD (or vinyl, WEB, and cassette) represents a separate release, but not all CDs are distinct editions. In the majority of cases, any release will belong only to a single edition (for example, U2’s Achtung Baby had a single release for CD that belonged to the 1991 edition of the album; now, it also has a remastered edition, which was released in the fall of 2011), while distinct editions may encompass multiple releases (for example, some album may have a release from the United States and another release from the United Kingdom but they are exactly the same CDs with respect to audio, and only have different catalog numbers or record labels; therefore, these two releases are part of the same edition for the album).