Should "compilation" be used for live albums recorded at more than one show?


This has been weighing on my mind for a long time now, but edit #48859957 brought it to the forefront.
As many of you probably know, it is common for live albums to be comprised of material recorded at more than one show, for a variety of reasons (e.g. as an insurance policy if the recording equipment breaks mid-show or a musician flubs a note). The editor in the link above is implying that the fact that more than one show was recorded is grounds enough for the “compilation” subtype to be added to the release group; I disagree with this because it sets the bar unreasonably high. Any thoughts/ideas?


From the docs:

A compilation, for the purposes of the MusicBrainz database, covers the following types of releases:

  • a collection of recordings from various old sources (not necessarily released) combined together. For example a “best of”, retrospective or rarities type release.
  • a various artists song collection, usually based on a general theme (“Songs for Lovers”), a particular time period (“Hits of 1998”), or some other kind of grouping (“Songs From the Movies”, the “Café del Mar” series, etc).

The MusicBrainz project does not generally consider the following to be compilations:

  • a reissue of an album, even if it includes bonus tracks.
  • a tribute release containing covers of music by another artist.
  • a classical release containing new recordings of works by a classical artist.

The first bullet point seems the most relevant. In this case, the recordings are from 1977 and 1978, and the release from 1978. So I wouldn’t consider the concerts “old sources” by the time of release.

I think there are a lot of live albums that are combinations of live shows from the same tour or consecutive tours. It wouldn’t make much sense to call them all compilations.


I made pretty much exactly the same argument as @mfmeulenbelt on the edit. :slight_smile:


I think you mean @mfmeulenbelt? :wink:


What improvement to the Style guideline will make this clear for next time?

Update: changed misspelled word. DYAC.


My $0.02…
If we are talking about official releases (such as Kiss Alive III), a live album is not a compilation if it is the first release.
But it could be a compilation, if the individual live recordings were previously released and you are now hearing something like a “greatest live hits”.

Unofficial releases is an entirely different ball game.


When is a release a “compilation”? I think it’s important in evaluating questions like this to read the Style docs, yes (thank you @mfmeulenbelt), but also to try to clarify what purpose the style guideline is trying to accomplish. How does it make the data better?

The docs quoted above hint at a continuum from “one take direct to disc” to “studio album recorded in 100 sessions over 50 weeks” to “greatest solid gold hits of the 1950s”, and the purpose of the “compilation” designator is to say that the Release is fairly far on one end of that continuum.

So I heartily agree with this sentiment: