[STYLE-1411] Sub-formats for Digital Media

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I’ve thought about this for a long time. Most digital releases are available for both streaming and download, but increasingly I’m seeing releases that are only available for one or the other (streaming-only is more common, but there are some download-only releases out there). The only way to note that a release is streaming-only or download-only is via a disambiguation or annotation, or just inference from the external links attached to the release.
What does everyone else think about this? Is it useful, or would it open the floodgates to something we potentially don’t want?

Very useful for me.
Opens the question of subformats of lossy vs lossless etc…

In general I don’t think MB has decided how it wants to deal with the (presumably) largely digital future. As you probably know there are two camps: Simplify digital down to the minimum when possible vs allow very granular releases (e.g. different formats, stream vs download).

I think a leadership decision at some point would be useful because I don’t think either of the camps are ‘wrong’ and I also don’t think they’ll agree because they have different interests and needs. The bigger question of what the overall aim is in regards to storing digital info would really help.


Ignoring the question about opening floodgates, how would you formally distinguish between these types? For example Spotify (probably considered a streaming provider by most) has the ability to download music to play it while offline. There also exist many tools for ripping music off streaming providers.

To make a physical release analogy, we also don’t distinguish between types of stores* you can buy a CD in, which also range from “walk in and pick up a disc” to “go to website and order a disc and have it shipped to you”.

*outside of the purchase relationships, but that only applies to the latter type of shop anyway


I imagine the media tree would have to start like this:

Digital Media
↳ Digital Media (download-only)
↳ Digital Media (streaming-only)

I’d probably stop there. But if we were going more granular, I’d rather see 16-bit/24-bit/32-bit before lossy/lossless formats.

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Since it’s apples and oranges anyone can use whatever analogy suits. We would distinguish between something that needs a cassette player vs a CD player (requiring an Apple player/app vs Spotify app). Or the other way round, we wouldn’t distinguish between a lossy and lossless download so why would we distinguish between two CD releases, one that has lossy content, one that has lossless (we definitely would right?).

This is why a bigger decision is useful - it’s great that MB has such a committed fanbase that likes to catalogue physical media, but do we need to compare everything to how we already do things now… either in 50 years time we want to be the source for digital release knowledge, history and details, or we want to have a future of just granular physical releases and a single digital release item whenever possible. For a while now it’s felt like everyone’s pulling towards a different destination.

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