Release countries have to be one of the things I wish had official guidelines the most, because I bet if I asked most of you, I’d get different answers about it’s purpose.
Some things are obvious, like if an album is only officially available in a single country, or obviously tailored for it, that’s what the release country should be set to.
What seems to me to be the most up for debate is international releases, where one release is clearly intended to sell in multiple countries, or even worldwide, so I’d love it if you all could tell me what release country you would set for the following, or otherwise handle it:
An artist produces an album without involving a label. They live in country A, the album is pressed in country B, and it’s shipped from country C. The storefront is not tailored for any specific country and offers international shipping. This is the only physical release of the album.
An artist produces an album for a small label. They live in country A, and the album is also pressed in country A. The storefront is based in country A, and albums are also shipped from country A. The storefront is not tailored for any specific country, and offers international shipping. This is the only physical release of the album.
An artist produces an album for a medium sized label. They live in country A, the album is pressed in country B, and there are two storefronts, one for the Americas and one for Europe. They release at the same time, and except for shipping from different warehouses, they are identical. They have the same catalog number and have the same markings. This is the only physical release of the album.
An artist produces an album without involving a label. They have not told anyone what country they are from. The album is pressed in country A. The album is sold on Amazon, and shipping is handled by Amazon in all countries they have presence in. This effectively enables it to be shipped anywhere in the world. This is the only physical release of the album.
An artist produces an album without involving a label. They are from country A. The physical release is handled by a company that handles mastering a disc, pressing it, and shipping, all they need from an artist is artwork and a digital album. This company is from country B. The storefront is not tailored for any specific country, and ships internationally. This is the only physical release of this album.
A remastered album of a cult classic is released post-mortem by the label. The label is from country A. Limited run of 1000 copies, clearly aimed at collectors from anywhere in the world. The album is pressed in country B. The storefront is not tailored for any specific country, and ships internationally.
How I would set release events on them based on my understanding that “release country” is about the intended target market:
Here I’m in favor of the controversial “Worldwide on physical releases”, as that’s the target market - there’s no other release, and it does feel consistent with how it works otherwise. Putting any specific country here does not provide valuable information.
Although everything involved here comes from country A, it’s not really the target market. Same here as in 1, it’s the only physical release and it’s really sold to whoever wants it wherever they are (barring legal limitations)
One release (markings are the same), release events for the Americas and Europe. It’s not officially available in Asia, you’d need to look at imports or second-hand copies.
Barring the whole “what countries would this actually be available in”, options here are either Worldwide, as the target market, or blank, because we have no other country we know of except for the place of manufacture, and release country is not the place of manufacture.
Worldwide, that’s the target market. No other option gives valuable information.
Think of it in those terms and it makes more sense. Of course, in this modern day, an artist will want to sell their music to anyone who asks. Worldwide. But if everything is marked “Worldwide” it looses all identity. Might as well delete the country completely.
Manufacturing location is irrelevant as I have plenty of 1990s CD released in small numbers to the UK market, but were made in France. This is common for Europe as manufacture across the border is often closer than most of the country.
If an artist is packaging up their CDs and sending them out from country A, then that is the country we should write down. If they save themselves some postage costs and ship a few box loads to a mate in country B, then we write down both A and B. If they drop a box load off in a single music shop in Country C when driving through, then we also add that. If they are selling to the USA then they will not be sending one CD at a time. They will ship a box or three over the pond and have someone post them out from there. That is what you call a “distribution deal” - even if it is just a single box and you pay your mate in beers.
Only releases directly from the artists website that says they will ship to anywhere in the world (many won’t, btw) should be marked Worldwide. They are not that common. Due to sub contracted labels for distribution, marketing, manufacturing, pressing, etc., physical releases really shouldn’t be marked as worldwide without some strong evidence.
But does “Released FROM” make much more sense? I have at least one CD knocking around somewhere that’s officially “released from” Denmark, but intended for the Swedish market. It would’ve had no marketing or ads in Denmark, but some ads for mail-orders in Sweden.
Of course, in this modern day, an artist will want to sell their music to anyone who asks. Worldwide. But if everything is marked “Worldwide” it looses all identity. Might as well delete the country completely.
It still makes sense where you have regional releases, which is very much still a thing for most of the music industry. Sony Music Sweden is the only source for officially sanctioned physical Sony Music releases here in Sweden, for example, and they will have different UPCs and markings. Of course I could import CDs from their other arms, but that’s hardly their intent.
If an artist is packaging up their CDs and sending them out from country A, then that is the country we should write down. If they save themselves some postage costs and ship a few box loads to a mate in country B, then we write down both A and B. If they drop a box load off in a single music shop in Country C when driving through, then we also add that.
If we go by “places it’s shipped from”, then scenario 4 quickly becomes “what countries do Amazon have warehouses in”, which I highly doubt is something anyone wants.
Only releases directly from the artists website that says they will ship to anywhere in the world (many won’t, btw) should be marked Worldwide.
Worldwide already has some asterisks attached, in that it’s commonly accepted some countries don’t have to be included, especially ones under embargo, as it would make it impossible to use. If Worldwide truly has to mean Worldwide, then we better start removing it from all digital releases that are hosted on a service that has a US presence, since that means Iran isn’t allowed to access it.
Due to sub contracted labels for distribution, marketing, manufacturing, pressing, etc., physical releases really shouldn’t be marked as worldwide without some strong evidence.
For any decently sized label, sure, but when it comes to self-released or tiny labels, they don’t exactly subcontract it out to other labels. It’s more often a “print on demand” service, or a bedroom job. Those are the ones I feel are unclear.
That seems fairly clearly Swedish then. If the people working on the CD happen to live in a different country it does not matter. They are doing the work on behalf of the Swedes, so the intention is Sweden.
That sounds like a Distribution deal, and I assume it mentions that on the covers? I bought a heap of second hand CDs from Ebay the other day. British band, but all German distribution. So they ended up being “German” releases as they were being sold from a German factory into Germany market. No doubt the band did a deal to produce CDs for Germany. Now these same discs are almost certainly in Austria, but that doesn’t count. They were distributed from Germany.
I agree mega corporations confuse things, but Amazon creates nothing. Just sells other people produce. Amazon is not really part of the equation as they are the reseller and have strange warehousing and confusion. An Artist will have produced the CD somewhere and moved them out through Amazon. That Artist is sitting in an office somewhere directing the show. The CDs just spent a few weeks sitting in an Amazon warehouse somewhere on the planet. Bit like when they travel in a lorry across Europe. It is just a staging post.
I have Amazon sourced CDs that are clearly marked and created and distributed in Argentina, but I bought it in the UK from UK Amazon. This lead to the bizarre situation of a USA artist, UK purchase, Argentine Release. As the CD is clearly marked as having that Argentine distributor, then that is what it was. Amazon just bizarrely chose to pick one off of their shelf in Argentina instead of a European copy.
There is no 100% rule, but just copping out and saying “everything is world wide” kinda fails and is a lazy answer. We can usually do better
As you note yourself, Worldwide delivery never happens. North Korea is a kinda tricky place to send a CD to.
That is therefore easy. Where is the bedroom they run the operation from? That nails the country.
Except that many digital releases have Iran, North Korea, etc. listed as having many releases on Deezer by both the distributors & their APIs. Also, we are not talking about digital releases. We are talking about physical releases.
Also, if you can link to the website and it states on the site says they will ship it anywhere in the world directly from the same plant (I know there are some that do, I just can’t remember which at the top of my head), than I see no issues with calling it Worldwide due to not having these label concerns. Unfortunately, there are editors that just see a release on Amazon and list them automatically as Worldwide, etc. My point is, that it’s up to the editor who adds a physical release to at least attempt to show why they would mark it Worldwide. If I run across a Worldwide physical release, I look in the history. If there is nothing sourced, it will automatically get moved to country linked (if there are links).
e.g. every modern release that’s not on a major label/doesn’t have regional deals? At least pretty much every modern release I buy.
It’s not helpful for all my owned releases to be [worldwide]. It is helpful to know that I have a CD that was released by a French label (bought via Bandcamp), and another version of the same CD that was released by a New Zealand label (bought via Bandcamp). That I had to shell out for overseas shipping for one isn’t really a useful datapoint.
In my opinion and MB experience:
set to label country
set to label country
set to label country
mysterious… probably leave blank, until more is known then see 5.
set to artist country
set to label country
There are obviously nuances to this. An obvious exception to ‘label country’ is where they have released a version specifically for a certain overseas market, e.g. with different text on the release.
I think the issue I have with understanding what to put in this field boils down to the fact that how “release event country” seems to be defined differently based on whether there’s no label (in which case it’s the artist’s country), it’s the only physical release and shipped to most of the world (in which case it’s the label’s country), or it’s a traditional release tailored for a specific market, distribution deal or not (in which case it’s the target market).
Is this actually how it is right now?
Consistently defining release country based on intent would still give the first one in release groups with multiple releases, each release is intended for a specific market, while worldwide/a lot of country releases would pretty much be limited to release groups with a single release, since if you intend to sell a release near-worldwide, why would you make more?
Hmm I see it as the same definition: who’s putting it out and where they are (whether an organization or individual).
I think your assessment is correct, that unless there is a specific target market.
Setting it to worldwide based on where you ship to makes this troublesome, because pretty much every modern distributor/label/storefront will ship anywhere if you’re willing to pay postage.
I’m terms of smaller labels, I put things out in NZ but they ship worldwide from Bandcamp. You ain’t going to be buying them because shipping costs the same as the LP. If a US label puts out another 150 for the band then that’s awesome! They will probably also ship worldwide though. This is really common for punk/metal releases.
It’s all semantics at the end of the day with no correct answer… but I would push back on a change to set [worldwide] based on storefront because of how it would affect my collection. I buy mainly from Bandcamp
So you can imagine how my collection country column would change!
I am being simplistic. But if artist gets a UK distribution deal with a shop in Germany to distribute their CD then that would be a German Release. It would help if they have a sticker letting us know of this deal otherwise we need a third party website to link to to show the deal exists.
@jesus2099 yeah, that’s what I meant. Each place an actual extra effort is made to make the sales from. Quite likely you’ll have a UK band with a German following causing them to make that extra distribution effort.
A sticker doesn’t change the release content.
BUT if the sticker is a new barcode, or Obi, then we need a new Release. This is a trick I have seen Pink Floyd do when selling a European product into the USA. Something changed for that market.