Separate release groups for album samplers?

It is not the first time I am wondering this.
Should we have a separate release group for a promotional sampler, an extract of some tracks of an upcoming album, for instance sent to journalists, instead of the full (promotional version) of the album?

I think it is at least the second time recently that I am merging a sampler RG into the album RG:


I see plenty of samplers in with a Release. Seems a sensible place to put them. We put deluxe albums in the same place, so why not a cut down version?

I see a “Release Group” as literally a Group of Releases that are closely related. As long as it is marked promo I think it is at home as it shares many of the same tracks.


Interesting question. A sampler is a particular kind of promotion, but enough different that maybe there should be a “sampler” option in the Status field.

Since it is directly related to the album it is promoting, I’d say it would be better to be in the same release group. In separate RGs, it would have to be associated to the main album via some sort of relationship, which is less obvious.

I agree with IvanDobsky’s point, too.


To play devil’s advocate for a moment - couldn’t the same logic justify a single from an album being part of the album’s RG? After all it’s just an extremely cut down version of the album. :slight_smile:

As @yindesu notes on one of those edits, the basic principle is to answer the question “do you own X?” I would say “Yeah, I have the original release” or “yeah, I have the deluxe version”, but in a case like the Santana example, I would say “no, but I have the promo sampler”. So I lean toward separate RGs.

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Not really. A single and album are aimed at different part of the musical audience. They have a totally different chart for them. Different media. Different meanings in the musical world.

If the database is to be replace with a pedantic reading of “it is part of an album so merge it into same RG” then we might as well scrap all categories. Throw the remixes in too. And all EPs.

Common sense has to come in to play. Singles are different to albums.

Personally I always find the “do I own X” argument bizarre. Or do people who buy a deluxe album throw away their original album? I have samplers because they are unique items. They are on the shelf next to my original UK album, my US edition with extra tracks, and my deluxe 25th anniversary editions. They are all variations of the original album.

If you are going to break all the samplers out into new RGs, then you need to break all Deluxe editions out too. They are just promotions really. Promoting an old album.

A promotional edition of an album may be five tracks, or it may be all of the tracks same as the main Release. The current guidelines are sensible in keeping these together as the represent the same album.

Also note, we have relationships to show that a Single is from an Album. It follows the logic the record industry follows.

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We already have that. Tick “Promotion” as this is what it is. :slight_smile:


@reosarevok Can you help clarify whether an 8-track sampler is a version of a 34-track release? (This isn’t about bonus tracks / limited edition content.) Either way, I would suggest adding a sampler example to whichever relevant section of Style / Release Group - MusicBrainz

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Guidelines as to what should be in a Release Group: Style / Release Group - MusicBrainz

It is fairly clearly listed in there that Promotional versions should be in the same RG. Always has been the way and is very common elsewhere in the database. It is one of the reasons there is a Promotional type as these things are very different to official Singles.

Sometimes Promos are the whole album, sometimes only five tracks. Still a promo of the album.

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Sure, but is a sampler a “promotional version”? We’re talking about 8 non-bonus tracks vs. 34 non-bonus tracks.

Totally. I have five track samplers from 15 track albums. The record company don’t want to give the whole album away, just a taster of the album. But it is all related to that album. It is (or was) a common trick

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Frequently, I do (well, not throw it away, but trade it in or give it away). With a few artists that I collect more actively, I may keep both versions. But for example I no longer own any of the Columbia CD releases by Elvis Costello as I have replaced them over the years with the Rykodisc or Rhino reissues.

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The point is you care about the editions you own. They are not all inter-changable. I know I am weird and like to keep multiple editions. And if I get my hands on a sampler of an album I know it is an unusual promotional thing not available to the public. I don’t discard it because it has the same tracks as the real album. But it is closely related to that album - it is a promo for the album.

I don’t just collect for the music, but the packaging. The differences are important. For example, I have a comically large number of copies of Dark Side of the Moon. Often because of the different artwork being produced by Storm Thorgerson.


The “do I own X?” question is just a slightly less abstract way of thinking about “Is this a version of X?” Clearly we all agree that the LP, CD, digital etc. releases of an album are all versions of the same thing. There seems to be a general, though by no means absolute, consensus that expanded deluxe editions are also versions of the original album.

To me, a sampler containing less than half of an album’s tracks is not a version of that album. It is related to that album, sure, just like a single or pre-release EP drawn from that album would be, but belongs in a separate RG. But that’s not a hill I’m going to die on if the consensus is otherwise.

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[There was a bit of a similar discussion on Highlights releases: same or different RG?]

I kinda feel like these should be their own RGs, linked to the album but hidden by default since they contain only promotional releases. I don’t feel like you can really claim a 5 track sample is at all equivalent to the album itself. In the end though, it probably doesn’t matter much since @IvanDobsky probably has a point that the people who care enough to collect a sampler are also the people who won’t care much about “having this album” but about having specific releases.

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You would open yourself a can of worms. If you split a 5 track promo sampler, then you’ll need split a full album promo. Versions supplied to radio stations. And if you split those for albums, then what about other white label singles aimed for radio DJs?

Why have a Promotional section in a release group if you then move them out of sight and away from the main album?

I think these are different to Highlights releases as these promos are not for sale. They are rare items a collector is interested in. A Highlight CD is seen as a separate product sold by the record industry.

I believe the MB guidelines have this correct in the way these are currently categorised.

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I’m pretty sure nobody disagrees “same content but promo” should be the same release group. The question is “when does it stop being the album and becomes something else”.


Then we would link this separate RG by a specific sampler relationship or we can bend the single/EP relationship to be used for samplers?

That’s the problem. Open that door and then the deluxe editions will slip out too. If one track missing makes it a promo, then what happens when you add extra bonus tracks. This is just a variation of the album.

Certainly can’t be called singles. Don’t make sense at all as these will be album tracks. Not destined for a single chart. You’d cause chaos in discographies if you put albums in with singles.


I would not argue that one track missing requires a separate RG. Something around 2/3 to 3/4 seems reasonable to me: if a release has 75% or more of the “core” tracks of a release, it’s a version of that release.

I would also factor in how the release is labeled. If two releases have the same title, that’s another indication they belong in the same RG (like the US and UK releases of Rubber Soul , which clearly belong in the same RG even though the US release has only 10 of the original 14 tracks, slightly less than 75%). However, if one release is labeled as “Sampler from…” or “Sneak Peek at…”, that’s an indication they are different animals.

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I agree, I found album includes sampler or sampler is included in album is better I think.
And I have cancelled my merge of sampler in album RG.