Proposed (unofficial) digital media guidelines

I don’t see why it should be treated any different than physical releases. Unique artwork → unique release.


The only thing that annoys me about that is that usually there’s no way to know when the cover changed unless you keep on checking the release. I only noticed that SZA changed the artwork for the Doja Cat remix because she did it on the same day it was released.

I’m planning to add the (now slightly amended) sections in @derat’s proposal to the release guidelines page in a couple days, unless someone sees something really wrong with some part of them. So please scream ASAP in that case! :slight_smile:


I think it reads better if “multiple releases” is reworded to “separate releases”, and if “What should be added as separate releases?” is presented prior to “What should be added as a single release?”.

I don’t like “For physical media, don’t create a new release when the only difference is the matrix number on the center of a CD or the run-out groove area of a record.”

I have multiple pressings of some albums and appreciate representing them differently in my collection. I’d be upset if they were merged. I even scanned the artwork twice, even though they are the same. Example:

I don’t have an issue with multiple matrix codes generally. If someone wants to ignore it, fine, but let the folks who do want to separate the details do so. An extension of this is grouping similar matrix codes, which I touched on in the thread below. It’s a good thread for those interested.


there was a line added to the multiple releases section:

For physical media, use multiple releases for any differences besides matrix numbers, including minor changes to cover art (that can be as small as a different copyright line on the back cover or a different pressing plant listed in the matrix).

…but I guess they didn’t change it for the single release section…

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I think your Nsync albums are different factories. Not 100% sure where IFPI L240 is, but don’t think it is Sonopress. (I don’t know my USA details as well as Europe) This is why I was trying to make sure the “different factory” note stayed in there.


Yeah, I’m not a fan of the matrix # change either. I’ve noticed that the matrix number often is the only thing that indicates that it’s a different pressing (and sometimes the only way to differentiate between different release countries), or a that it’s a reissue, which in some cases are released many years later, of old vinyl and shellac releases. When you move forward in time to more modern times these changes are more commonly also added to the artwork, e.g. different (p) date or that the barcode is changed, but these standards did either not exist or were not required to be included in the early days of music publishing.


The matrix number thing is based on how we’ve always said that it’s ok for a release to have multiple discIDs that are a bit different because there can be small differences on each new pressing (which implies different pressings do not make a different release). For example, on the discid calculation docs.


The matrix number isn’t stored as data in MB right now anyway. It can be added in the annotation, and one can add multiple matrix codes there. That’s also how I think this should be handled if there would be a field to properly store this information, there should be multiple matrix codes that can be added to a single release. That way all the information is provided without duplicating all the otherwise identical data.


I completely support this!
I’m ok with matrix variations to stay in one submission but different matrix # is a reason for me to submit a new release.


Ok, I might misunderstand matrix stuff then - what’s the difference between “matrix variations” and “different matrix number”? :slight_smile:

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This is sometimes easy to tell, sometimes a bit harder and may require special knowledge/experience. Example easy variations:
EMI UDEN 8289842 @ 1 4-2-12-NL
EMI UDEN 8289842 @ 1 4-1-9-NL
EMI UDEN 8289842 @ 1 4-1-12-NL
These all point to the same glass mastering done at EMI Uden, just different stampers used for pressing (or some say ‘duplication’).

Now some different matrix variations which may look very similar to the EMI Uden examples above but the glass master used to create those stampers was done elsewhere:
CDP 828984 2 1 1-2-2-NL
CDP 828984 2 .2 . 2-1-4-NL


I’m learning more about CD manufacturing than I was expecting to from a discussion about digital media guidelines. :slight_smile: (Now is the time for someone to point out that actually CDs are digital media too.)

In the example you gave, I believe that the differences go beyond the matrix number (which I’m perhaps misinterpreting as referring only to 01241417022):

The first release includes SONOPRESS USA in the matrix; the second one doesn’t. There also appear to be clear differences in the printing of the labels (almost flush with the edge of the disc vs. not). Others like @IvanDobsky and @reosarevok should comment, but my interpretation of the current proposal is that it’s trying to say (perhaps unclearly) that these can/should be separate releases.

I suspect that only minor matrix differences like the ones described at should be grouped together into a single release:

Matrix / Runout (Variant 1): SONOPRESS USA 01241417022 ++ 06234-03
Mastering SID Code (Variant 1): IFPI L028
Mould SID Code (Variant 1): IFPI L1022
Matrix / Runout (Variant 2): SONOPRESS USA 01241417022 ++ 06234-02
Mastering SID Code (Variant 2): IFPI L028
Mould SID Code (Variant 2): IFPI 1028
Matrix / Runout (Variant 3): SONOPRESS USA 01241417022 ++ 06232-02
Mastering SID Code (Variant 3): IFPI L028
Mould SID Code (Variant 3): IFPI L076

(Maybe even that’s contentious, though!)


@derat - yeah, you get the idea. Those IFPI numbers usually just mean different machines in the same building. And the numbers changing on the end of that matrix string vary over the years. Different matrix patterns for different plants needs some decoding. But usually lots of different numbers will refer to the same release as it is pressed in an identical way over a number of years.

There are cases where the IFPI numbers will tell you that a CD is pressed at a different plant. EMI used to have UDEN, SWINDON and an Italian plant. You will find some 1990s CDs are split up due to decoding these numbers. It is possible to have a CD mastered at EMI SWINDON but then pressed at EMI UDEN and\or the Italian plant.

The above @spUdux post is showing a version of this. The same CD, started from a common master at some stage, but has split to different factories for production. Some of us geeks like to record these details. (Looking closer, I expect the earlier matrix is the CDP one as that shows a CDP master and UDEN press as UDEN adds the 1-2-2-NL text… then later in years UDEN make their own master of this disk and press from that hence the higher 4-2-12-NL numbers in the other example)

On a side note, what I personally don’t like to see is where someone just copies a block of text from Discogs like in the @derat example. This means copying over errors (as seen with the IFPI 1028). It would be better if editors only added their own data. But that is for a different discussion. There are already long threads on this subject elsewhere.

I could also get into a geeky :nerd_face: discussion about discIDs and pressing plants, but I get a feeling very few are interested in that :laughing:


How would people who edit a lot of CD and vinyl releases feel if:

For physical media, don’t create a new release when the only difference is the matrix number on the center of a CD or the run-out groove area of a record.

were changed to:

… only difference is a minor variation in the matrix number …


For physical media, use multiple releases for any differences besides matrix numbers, …

were changed to:

… any differences besides minor variations in matrix numbers …


I’m aware that editors will still argue over what “minor variation” means, but I don’t know how to prevent that without exhaustively explaining how to parse matrix text (which I’m not sure is even possible, since it seems like things may be done differently at different factories…).

I want to leave the door open for editors to enter new releases for “significant” manufacturing differences, but I don’t think that this part of the release guidelines should be educating people about how to read matrix numbers. :slight_smile:

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No one is going to keep track of the list in case one or several of the countries one day drop out of the list. Also, how many digital releases are available in North Korea? Are releases from the West of Russia European, and the others are not?

Please note that release countries are not mentioned in the current proposal. I’d like to use this thread to resolve the remaining issue (just matrix numbers on physical media, I think).


Ah, I see. I would suggest clarifying the date issue brought up above. There are tons of releases that get released on Juno a few days earlier than on Beatport or the other way round.