Should the SPA [dialogue] be used for recordings with known performers?

According to the style guidelines the purpose of [dialogue] is to be…

Used for tracks which consist solely of dialogue, and which aren’t credited to anyone on the release tracklist. For example, the “Royale With Cheese” discussion from Pulp Fiction would be correctly assigned to [dialogue], not to “John Travolta & Samuel L. Jackson”, since the tracklist has no artists for that track. Their performances within the track should instead be indicated by a vocals relationship (generally spoken vocals ).

Only tracks are specifically mentioned by this, but the recording could easily be credited to the performers, which are known in the above example. They don’t appear on the back cover’s tracklist but are credited in the booklet of e.g. Pulp Fiction: Music From the Motion Picture.

Currently the above example recording is credited to John Travolta & Samuel L. Jackson (contradiction to the style example?), but the track AC is [dialogue] for almost all of the linked tracks. After I merged two entities of this recording in, I was hinted that I merged into the wrong target AC (the specific performers, not [dialogue]). But when I opened to change the AC according to the style guide, it turned out that the guidelines are not exactly clear.

IMO the performers should at least be credited on the recordings if they are not unknown. It seems like they were discussions in the past without reaching a satisfying solution (see linked edits and follow the links), so I throw in the question again:

Do you agree that the SPA [dialogue] should not be used for recordings with known performers? Should the style guidelines be updated to make this clearer?


I think the guideline is a little outdated, from the time when MusicBrainz was more focussed on just music and there were no artist credits or even a difference between recordings and tracks.

I’d say that it’s better to avoid using special purpose artists if more specific information is available. It is a useful special purpose artist if we don’t know who perform the dialogue, but the pure fact that it is a piece of dialogue and not music should be captured somewhere else. In this case, it would be a more interesting discussion whether this should be credited to Jules and Vincent or Jackson and Travolta?


The point of a database is to help us link data that is related. Seems sensible to me to credit the actual artists who are performing the track. I always had assumed [dialogue] was like [unknown] and [traditional] and used when the actual artist was unknown.

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On the other hand, the artist credit is probably the least usefully linked data part of this entry. An artist being credited on this track could mean they provided the vocals, wrote the script, or were otherwise responsible.

The vocals relationship is unambiguous already.

Do you think this is a case where a Fictitious Artist should be used? It seems like these are only used when they are credited as such on the release and it is difficult to find a better credit. In this case the role names are not credited in the booklet, but I don’t know the “notability criteria” for adding new fictitious artists :wink:

I would probably use the artists for the performing actors and maybe add Jules and Vincent as artist credits for the actual performers.

I don’t believe in notability, but I do prefer to keep the network of artists relatively ‘flat’, that is: using artist credits instead of different artists with lots of ‘performs as’ relationships between them.

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If I understood you correctly, you suggest to use an alias, e.g. John Travolta as Vincent Vega? That would be a nice solution.

What would be the next step to change style guidelines if we agree that editors should not be forced to use [dialogue] when there’s better data available?



not to sidetrack, but this is a noteworthy point for genres like opera and musical theatre especially. many editors (including myself) have in recent times made use of (perhaps knowingly misused even) the “credited as” attribute space for opera voices to identify the roles/characters that opera singers in those particular recordings performed as. it’s perhaps best left for a separate discussion what a better solution for that is, but i’ll just leave this here.