Release country for digital media: What stores are international?

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The display of that many release dates/countries is a bit weird (but not broken per se, just takes up way too much room). That’s just a display issue though, which can (and should) be fixed. I don’t think we should decide our data model based on some minor, presumably fixable display issues.

Personally, this strikes me as one of the cases where everyone should feel free to enter as much data as they personally care to, but should respect the wishes (and work!) of anyone who wants to enter more detailed data.

So I think there should be some release location that someone who doesn’t want to research online stores across a bunch of countries can use, something to say it was released in a lot of places. [Worldwide] could be used for that—or we could pick something else, like [Widely]. (As has been pointed out, are there any true worldwide releases? Were they released in North Korea?)

And anyone who wants to put in the time to find the release dates in 30 different countries should feel free to replace that lots-of-places location with the 30 specific ones.


How would one look at a release on the internet, posted for free by a band for example. Now, this release could be considered worldwide as there have been no restrictions placed on it by the provider of the release. For the North Korea example, this is not restriction placed by the distributor, but by the government of the buyer. So, Columbia might sell a CD in Brazil, and a different CD in USA, this is a difference introduced by distribution. So, now lets say that Brazil government bans this CD. Is the CD no longer released to Brazil?


Yes, that seems perfectly reasonable. I guess that would be a truly worldwide release. That’s more or less the only way it can happen—being given away for free on the web. That’s a good argument for having a separate, e.g., [Widely] choice.

By the government of the seller—many countries have trade restrictions on North Korea (and several other countries, a list that varies by country, of course). So the seller doesn’t offer it in N. Korea, even if N. Korea would allow them to. It’s probably not possible to sell a release worldwide. (Of course, bootlegs could be available there—but that’s a different release for MB purposes).

A different CD (e.g. different content or different cover art) is a different release in MB. Not just a different release event. And a release event only records a date when it was initially released in an area; it says nothing about whether it’s still available there. So being banned (or online store music licenses changing, or physical releases just going out of print) doesn’t change that.


I am just thinking here, so please take it as that. If I am a band, and I make a special cover for my release, just for NK, that means my release could have a NK release, even though the NK government will not allow it to be sold? Now this means a different cover. So now lets change that. Me as the band, I have just one version of the release, but I have a special purchase button specifically for people in NK. Now, there is no special cover to force a new release in MB, but as the person releasing the album, I have clearly and explicitly made it available to NK. Still, the NK government will not allow it. What does this result in?

I know this is very hypothetical and unlikely to ever happen. I am just trying to understand in more detail is the release country directed by the person(s) releasing, or the accepting country? And if it is some sort of combination, where exactly is that line? This will apply to more places than just North Korea. I tend to agree that to call a release “worldwide” will be technically incorrect, but I also agree that if it is interpreted as “unrestricted distribution from distributor”, it may be appropriate.

This would only apply to purchasing local physical copies, correct? A person might also buy a release online in physical form or digital form. I wonder the same here, I am a band and just made a CD (or digital too). My CD has one version, one barcode, one cover, one label. I sell it in stores, in whatever stores will stock it. So if a store in North Korea wanted me to send the 100 CDs to retail in their store, I (again hypothetically) would do so.

Yes, agree on that as well. There is also the opposite case too, where the local government will ban (or otherwise not allow) things even if the providing country would allow it. You have odd things like Monopoly not being allowed in Cuba (assuming this story is actually true).

Please also note, that after typing this and re-reading, it appears I am in need of further clarification on how a release event is determined. Aside from an example of going to Discogs and using the country(s) they specified, or going to iTunes and using the country code, or as I have done using my physical copy and using USA because that is where I am (for regular store purchase ones) , how is this technically determined?


It will depend on the release.

You can always identify a US (only) CD release by the FBI Anti-Piracy Warning Seal. You shouldn’t expect to see that seal on a CD sold in Canada, for example.

And if a store marks a CD as an “import”, and the store operates within a specific country, you can assume the CD’s release event shouldn’t be for the country that the product was imported into.

Otherwise, some physical products have UPC codes which can identify a country. For example, 47* is Taiwan, and 45* and 49* is Japan. (Universal Music Taiwan CDs, however, use 06*.)

None of this applies to digital releases, obviously, where the labels presumably specifically choose countries that are allowed, and are blocked, from the music in the digital stores and streaming services. Then the digital stores and streaming services are very good about letting the end user know that the music is not available to you because of your IP address.


This is very true, and in cases like iTunes, they make it fairly clear who the release is for. But for those that are not so clear… as an editor, I can easily see if my country is ok or not, but how do I know which other countries, if any, will be denied based on their geo profile? This information in such cases only tells me if my specific region is available, but nothing on the other regions. So, in such a case, is it correct to say that I should add my region only? Then as other editors see it and can verify their region is also available, then those editors add their respective regions to the list?


I think some of the unnecessary confusion could be cleared up by changing both of the releases to CD. CD barcodes are given for each release, and in the discussion CDs were used as the justification to have separate releases in the first place. I recommend to change the types to CD and provide citations other than Spotify.

Using Spotify to determine release countries for a digital medium doesn’t seem to be the ideal method. When I click the link to listen to the songs on Spotify, I can use the link from either release and Spotify will play the music for me. That’s because the recordings are no doubt identical. Spotify doesn’t seem to care which label released the CD version–they just play the song if it’s available in the catalog.

You have clear evidence of different CDs released by different labels. Why not change both releases to CDs, providing links to the evidence in the edit notes?


I find it hard to understand why no companies would seek to cut costs by using the same CA (including seals) for all countries in a geographical region.
I can understand that using the same CA for all countries in a region might be less likely or not common practice. But the assumption that a FBI seal will mean “US only” for a specific release seems ill-founded, unless there is other evidence pointing in the same direction.

Are all online stores so accurate with their data that we can rely on it?
I hear that some stores are not reliable providers of data.

This goes to that very difficult question of how much evidence and what sort of evidence we demand for data being entered.
I am not trying to say we need anything more than “pretty good” evidence.
So for example, if MB editors have inspected the CA of many CDs in Canada and Mexico and found that hardly any have the FBI seal on them, then an FBI seal would be “pretty good” evidence of a US only release.


To answer your question. The releases were created by the Spotify API, which shows the different countries. If you notice, the release in US, Canada & Mexico have a different barcode from the other 20. And yes, according to Spotify API it was only available in the countries specified.


The release is available, but not with that same barcode. That’s the difference.


In the case of physical releases, we identify the release country but we don’t try to list all the countries where a release is available. I can go to a US record store and buy an LP or CD that has never been “released” in the USA.

So why not take a similar approach for digital media? The release country is simply the country in which the releasing label (or the artist, in the case of self released) is based. For yindesu’s HAIM examples, the Columbia release would be US, the Vertigo Berlin would be Germany. I’ll admit to not being sure about the Polydor release, but I’m guessing that UK would probably be the best match.


The release country is simply the country in which the releasing label (or the artist, in the case of self released) is based.

I’m of the same opinion as you.


Unfortunately, determining the country in which a label is based is often not that simple, such as in the case of Polydor.

For the Polydor release, I’m not sure why you would pick UK. For that one, I would prefer to set country as International (not Worldwide, if that was a choice).

IMO we shouldn’t try to be too precise with how we use the release country field, just use it to indicate what we believe is/was the intended market of the release, rather than its regions of exact availability.


I was guessing on the basis that the Polydor imprint has been much more widely used in the UK than elsewhere. I hadn’t actually researched this specific release.

What would “international” mean in this context? How is it differentiated from, say, the Columbia edition released in the US but distributed to Canada and Mexico?


For major record labels it can be hard to determine a single country in which they are based, they operate across multinational (or international) markets; that was my line of thinking.

[International] is also useful as an alternative to [Worldwide] as it can be used to indicate many but not all countries in the world. Earlier in the thread it was suggested to use [Widely] for much the same purpose.


I get confused enough with physical releases. I buy a CD in the UK, released by a Brit, but it is Made in EU and also can be bought in Germany, France, Spain. I never know how many other European countries it is available in. Does Luxembourg get everything the rest of Europe gets? So how do I know when to tick “Europe”

The disk I bought on Friday was also available in the US and it looks like the same barcode. So at what point does US + Europe become worldwide?

Are most albums available on “Import” too? How else would those poor Aussies ever get to listen to anything? :smiley:

In my example I set the album as UK as that is what I know for sure. And that is where the artist is based, so he supplied the music from here. Salesmen have then taken it to other areas.

Seems to me like it is safer to have a multiple entry field of some form. In the past there were staged releases in different territories. So different dates appearing. And usually different packaging.

Now in the modern day we can buzz that digital file planetwide in seconds. The planet has shrunk.

In my little case I use this country field to get an idea of where the actual album came FROM. Not who it was sold TO. I want to be able to pull the GERMAN music out of my music collection and play it. I don’t really care if the albums I own were also sold in Timbuktu. I want to know who produced it, not where I can buy it.

Are we trying to get differing ideas shoved into a single tag again?


this is just an idea - what about this guys:

For example if we apply this to digital releases, something like that will come out: - this release is available only in Japan, but the barcode starts from 05439 (054391974358), so that would mean that it is a United States release that it is available only in the Japan country. What do you think?


I think US + Europe is unlikely. They would not be manufactured at the same place so they would be different releases.
What country? Don’t mind too much, put the country you know, the one where you buy it officially.
An other editor can later add their country when they notice it is exactly the same in every aspects.
Don’t try to guess everything, there is no need. :blush:



No, that was just an example. I should put worldwide if the same release is available in more than one contry right?

EDIT: what do you mean by “manufactured”? I’m talking about digital releases not physical.


Sorry if was replying to @IvanDobsky’s physical release. I did not realise this topic was about digital.
All my posts here are off topic, then.