Standalone recordings vs. compilation releases

My music collection includes various demoscene or demoscene-adjacent songs that I originally downloaded from artists’ websites or from online archives like or Many of these seem like standalone recordings to me: the docs specifically call out Internet-only releases (although many of these songs were created before the mainstream adoption of the web, and were instead distributed via BBSes).

I finally got around to tagging these songs with Picard and adding standalone recordings for the ones that weren’t already present in MusicBrainz. While doing this, I noticed that some of the songs had already been entered as part of compilation release groups like Release group “A 90s Tracker Collection” by Various Artists - MusicBrainz or Release group “Nest HQ Presents the Best of Keygen Music [Cracked by T34m FanxFic]” by Various Artists - MusicBrainz. As an example recording, see Recording “Rainy Summerdays” by Radix - MusicBrainz (I added the “download for free” relationship).

When I tag these songs, Picard unsurprisingly matches them to the releases that include them. This seems somewhat undesirable to me, though – now my files are tagged as being from oddly-named albums that I’d never heard of. I don’t know if the artists even gave permission for their music to be included in all cases.

My preference would be that these files end up still looking like standalone recordings (i.e. with a “[non-album tracks]” TALB frame and no “MusicBrainz Album Id”, “MusicBrainz Release Group Id”, etc. TXXX frames in the ID3v2 tag). I’m not sure what the best way to achieve this is, though (besides manually editing the tags in Picard before writing them).

Should I add an additional single release for each of these songs? That seems like overkill and possibly not in line with MB’s guidelines, but it would have the advantage of letting me also enter the earlier date (sometimes just a year) when the artist originally created or uploaded the song, which is often documented in metadata that was written by the artist.

(Side question: why isn’t it possible to set dates on recording or work entities? I haven’t found anything related to this in the UI or in the database schema. This thread and this one are related. The example standalone recording that the Picard documentation links to is itself a live recording, but there doesn’t seem to be any way to store its performance date in MB.)

TL;DR it seems unfortunate that a standalone recording suddenly becomes non-standalone if it’s included in a bootleg or compilation album that was released decades after the recording was created.


I remove #bootleg (they are legit musics) and add the #demoscene tag in which you can find some existing topic(s).

For me, all demoscene modules were released at some point, either as part of a demo, an intro or a music disc. Or even as a zip file in some BBS.

So if you find the original release, you can add it in an MB release.

MB tags:

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Go into OPTIONS \ METADATA \ Preferred Releases and kick the slider for Compilations to the far left. This should keep them lower in the match order.

But there isn’t a slider for “Standalone Recordings” so not sure if this is going to be bullet proof. I think you are still going to do a lot of manual edits.

As to “are these a single?” Maybe it can be argued they are Promo Singles? Official releases from a band via a BBS is just as legit as something on Bandcamp today. When I see something like that I ask myself “Would the band think this should be in their Discography?” I do not know an official MB answer


For me the best is to make a release out of the module.
It is a pity to not have release dates, links, etc.

It can be either the single zip release — with its FILE_ID.DIZ filescreenshot as cover art! — or what we called a music disc album, sometimes both were released, like equivalent to the music business, but free, in all the meanings of free (even open source music, such an era).

More MB tags with releases: demoscene, module, tracker, soundtracker, music disc, etc.

I don’t use genre tags much, but maybe demoscene or module would make a good genre?

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For me, it comes down to wanting to ignore that fact that the songs were released on a compilation. For me, that was just a convenient and cheap way of buying the songs (often the hits vs a whole album). My plan is a picard script to split each song into its own folder with its own artwork etc. If they were singles released from an album then they could be in their own folder. If not, then if the original album release is identifiable, then that could be created.

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Use the “Load as non-album track” plugin. It adds a context menu action for tracks which loads just the recording of this track.


I don’t think it’s overkill at all, at worst it’s just regularkill… :wink:

I see no issue adding a release in these cases, especially if you’ve got a release date or album artwork that goes with it~

you can set a recording date on the work-recording performance relationship. you can find that either when editing the recording (click the pencil, if already related), or the release (click “recording of”).

note this is the recording date, not the release date. however, I don’t know how well this translates to tracker modules (or MIDI, for that matter) as the file isn’t technically a “recording” per se… :melting_face:

(though I guess with tracker modules, it’d theoretically sound the same no matter the hardware, so it’s probably close enough…)

I believe the proper genre would likely be bit music or one of the subgenres therein.


Thanks for all the helpful and thoughtful replies!

This seems like it could be an argument that all music that’s available online should ideally eventually be added to a release instead of being a standalone recording. I mean, it all had to come from somewhere at some point. :thinking: At the very least, the original upload seems like it could constitute a release event with an associated date.

Ah, perfect. I’ll use this going forward.

Yeah, I’ve been acting under the assumption that MOD/S3M/IT/XM/etc. files should sound basically the same everywhere, and have been submitting AcoustID fingerprints after converting them to MP3s via ffmpeg in the hope that it might help other people in the future. I’ve added some MIDI files as standalone recordings as well, albeit without fingerprints since they’d be completely different depending on the soundfont that’s used to render them to waveforms. (Speaking of MIDI files, I was relieved to discover that Trip Through the Grand Canyon already exists as a work, and just added a relationship to a cover version that I’d added back in 2010.)