I’m running into a few problems with digital media releases, particularly on when to make a new release vs. adding everything to a single release. I can’t find much in the documentation so I was hoping someone here could answer some of my main questions.
If a song is released onto streaming platforms, but one of the platforms excludes a country that the others don’t, would it count as a new release? Or would an annotation stating which platform excludes the country suffice? (This automatically happens when importing with a-tisket.)
If a single with two artists is released onto Apple Music and Spotify, with Spotify crediting the artist to “[artist 1], [artist 2]”, and Apple Music crediting “[artist 1] and [artist 2]”, would these be considered separate releases?
If a song is released onto both streaming platforms and online stores, with the streamed release being MP3 and the store release being lossless FLAC, would they automatically be separate releases? (Assuming that the store release has the same or no barcode provided.)
(sorry if I’ve been making too many topics here, I’m trying to make sure I have all the basics down so I don’t have to fix more errors in the future.)
No. If it is indeed the same barcode, cover art, label relationships, etc. than it’s the same release. Streaming platforms are just store fronts. We wouldn’t create a new release because it was sold at Walmart vs. Target (excluding those listed as exclusives, of course). The only reason you see countries excluded from a-tisket sometimes, is because of where the streaming service actually operates. For example, Apple Music is officially in China, Deezer does have releases there, but a-tisket doesn’t show China is excluded on Deezer releases because Deezer isn’t “officially” in China. Spotify isn’t there at all. So, when running a release that is on Apple Music, you’ll see releases in China that might not show up on Spotify. Still same release.
Different artist credits is not enough to really be considered a different release if the artwork, labels & barcodes are all the same. Spotify doesn’t use join phrases other than “&” because of site restrictions. It’s purely a Spotify decision and not reflective of the release. Also, Spotify never uses parenthesis for ETI, they just use a dash. Still same release. Typically, Apple Music is the best as far as coming close to the credits as reflected on physical releases, but not always. In other words, if Apple Music says artist feat. artist, but Spotify says artist & artist, go with Apple Music. Spotify does however, most of the time now show “feat.” in the track title. So if a release says Song (feat. artist 2), by artist 1 & artist 2, we use Song by artist 1 feat. artist 2. Deezer is the worst as in many times it only mentions the main artist and nothing else. Of course, there are exceptions, sometimes Apple Music is obviously wrong where Spotify is actually correct. Compare the cover art, especially on singles. We credit releases as they are on cover art, not how they are on the individual stores. So, if an Apple Music release says Artist 1 feat. Artist 2, but the cover art says Artist 1 ft. Artist 2, we actually use Artist 1 ft. Artist 2 on MB, not Artist 1 feat. Artist 2.
Just because a release is on streaming vs. download isn’t enough automatically make them a separate release. Different file types don’t make it a different release either. AAC vs. FLAC, for example, not really enough. However, different audio quality (as you point out lossless) is enough for many editors (16-bit vs. 24-bit) (48khz vs. 192khz). If well annotated these can be considered different releases. You don’t have to set them up this way, but if someone has taken the time to separate them, we shouldn’t try to remerge them back into the same release. Apple Music vs. iTunes for example. We obviously consider them the same; they have the same everything down to the Apple ID. However, Apple Music can be hi-res lossless streaming (24/192) vs. iTunes which downloads aren’t even lossless. They are still AAC 256kbs. If there are separate hi-res & 16-bit releases on MB, and Apple Music is available in lossless or hi-res lossless, then I suppose it’s appropriate now to have a “purchase at” Apple Music link on the 16-bit release and a “streaming page” Apple Music link on the higher resolution link where appropriate. You can see the range for Apple Music here About lossless audio in Apple Music - Apple Support & I’d suggest using apple-music-barcode-isrc/apple-music-barcode-isrc.user.js at master · ToadKing/apple-music-barcode-isrc (github.com) to easily identify the audio quality that Apple Music has on their release.
You can try to get very technical, but you’ll find out that it’s very tedious. Keep it simple. If a release has the same barcode, artwork, labels, etc. it’s typically the same release with the possible exception of audio quality.
How do you know if it was “intended”? You can find out at Jaxsta, where many labels supply the actual distribution list. That’s what I do. But outside of that, the only way right now really is with a-tisket. If you don’t get a worldwide result on the mirror, re-run on the original and many times you’ll get a worldwide. I’m just reminding that there are many labels that exclude Japan or Australia/New Zealand, etc. Those should not be marked as Worldwide, even if it’s only 1 or 2 countries exempted. However, I’d double check any release that exempts only some island countries, on Jaxsta. There is a group of 9 islands that are exempted on every Sony Music Entertainment distributed release from a-tisket that is Worldwide on their distribution list. You can mark those as worldwide for example.
for the artists i edit a lot i pretty much always add a new release for lossless downloads (usually bandcamp) vs streaming. but also, i do consider “no barcode provided” a different barcode from the streaming release, so that’s usually why i add it. i’d probably still add a no-barcode release separately if it was just an mp3 download or even just streaming (like soundcloud). the other two i wouldnt consider separate releases though.
Sometimes both Soundcloud and Bandcamp have UPCs. So, please check by searching the “view-source” before assuming they don’t. Especially Bandcamp. Many times their release is the same. But yes, if you do a “UPC” search on the release and it comes back as “null” or nothing found, it’s safe to mark as no barcode.