The demarcation between works and remixes

There appears to be a fine line separating works from remixes. As I understand it, a remix is “a substantially altered version of a song, produced by mixing together individual tracks or segments of one or more source works”. That is, the remix artist chopped up the original recording and rearranged the bits to produce a new recording. This concerns for example DJs that have extended some track by splicing in a repeated section. The new recording is just another version of the original work. Where things get hairy is the fact that a large portion of “remixes” involve adding a considerable amount of new original material. Consider for example the case of rap remixes where the creative input of the lyricist warrants the creation of a new work.

What puzzles me is that this does not appear to generalize to other cases. The MB database is littered with examples, but let’s focus on prime offender Richard D. James (Aphex Twin) who released a complete double CD of “remixes”, many of which have been altered to the point where I struggle to recognize the original:

Now consider The “Big Drum mix” of Gavin Bryars “the Sinking of the Titanic”. I was amused to find that it had already been linked to a work bearing Aphex Twin’s playful renaming “Raising the Titanic”, so it clearly refers to the remixed version. However, Richard D. James is not listed as a writer, even though I am quite confident that the added strings, vocal samples and percussion are all from his hand. Just one example from many in the MB database.

Am I right in assuming that most editors at MB will link “remixes” to the original work as long as it bears the same title and will create a new work for remixes as soon as it has a different title, even though both may involve similar amounts of newly added composition and lyrics? If so, do we consider this a bad thing or do we rely on “artist intent”? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


This thread is a bit over my head, but this may be helpful:

A lot of editors, myself included, don’t create many works. I don’t do much classical, my tags don’t need it, it has a steep learning curve (for new editors), and there’s a veritable mountain of releases I have to add.

I may link a remix to an original work because it’s better than nothing :+1:

Another editor can help out with what the exact guidelines are - but I wouldn’t necessarily take ‘how things are’ in the DB as a guide, because often it’s just that there’s work to be done.


remix is such a broad term, I don’t know if there’s a single rule that can cover everything. either way, I don’t think a song having a different title should be the single deciding factor.

the most important thing is to add a relationship between the two recordings, usually “remix”, but it could also be “samples” or even “mashup” if applicable. I usually favor the original album/single version of the recording, unless it’s clearly a different version of the song

I second this~ discoverability is key, in my humble opinion

in terms of remix works, I generally just link the recording to the original work, often as a cover (especially if the remixer is not the original artist), but not always.

if there is a very significant difference, such as the lyrics have been shuffled around or something, I will create a new work for the remix. a couple examples:

note the relationships to the original works here too.


I would usually do that, but if the original work is no longer recognizable AND there is additional new material I would probably add a new work. But mostly I rely on “artist intent” - if it’s marketed as a new thing, it is! :wink:


Oh, but I am pretty sure I know what the guidelines are. It’s just that real life refuses to fit in :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

I do not believe that ‘the way things are’ is necessarily bad; often I can see a lot of sense in it. But I still think it is good that we discuss the motivations behind our choices so we can eventually reach some sort of consistency.


A lot of good stuff here. The nook in MB I have been working on is still pretty much a barren wasteland, so your examples are very helpful.

The main thing that has been bothering me is how we can credit the remix artist for any novel contributions. The most obvious solution is indeed simply creating a new work, but I have the impression that some editors dislike the splitting. I hope some of those chime in too.

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Yes, the pragmatic approach. I lean towards that as well, but there are cases where it doesn’t work.
Look at the example in the OP: The music in “The Sinking of the Titanic” grows progressively more muffled, as if the orchestra is sinking underwater. In Richard D. James’ version the sequence is reversed: it starts very quietly and then at some point the drums kick in. Hence: The Raising of the Titanic: It’s a joke. And now this has earned the track its own work. I am sure that would have amused Richard D. James, but I doubt that was “artist intent” :laughing:.


I may be in opposition to the general consensus here, but after having dealt with hundreds if not thousands of remixes in electronic or stricly club music, I claim that vast majority of them warrants a new work as they extensively transform the original. Furthermore I have a completely different outlook on covers. In my personal experience these often are simply new arrangements of the same work. A 2000s indie/slacker rock band covers a surf rock band. They may have changed one guitar to piano, they may play it a bit slower, but the notes stay the same, the lyrics stay the same. For me it’s the same song, just a different arrangement.


That is precisely the concern that led me to start this this thread. Do you create new works for remixes? If so, how do you deal with writing credits and work relationships?

Going to throw my pennies in the fountain…

I don’t think that all remixes have enough to be considered to be a new work, I know that there are plenty of “remixes” or just “mixes” that maybe don’t do anything of consideration to the original track than maybe speed up the bpm, or include a few more minutes of audio on either end (*).

I think for this to work there needs to be an extremely crystal clear definition of what constitutes as a new work (inc. a suitable way of linking works between the versions) otherwise we’re gonna have works for all kinds of minor variations.

At the moment I consider something to be a new work:

  • Additional arrangement explicity detailed in the liner notes of the work
  • A massive change to the lyrical content of the song (more than 50% of the lyrical content has been changed)
  • Song has been translated into another language
  • Additional writing credits that do not appear on the original work (for example guest verses from rappers)
  • Some situations where the song has a clear interpolation that can be considered the focal point of the composition, but too different for it to be considered a cover

(*) to expand on this point, considering that a covering artist could add some adlibs, or maybe play the song with a different instrument (which can considerably change the dynamic of the song), and there is no additional arrangement stated, and yet these are considered to be the same work, makes me question an example like this:
Original (Hellogoodbye - Here (In Your Arms) - YouTube)
Remix (Hellogoodbye - Here In Your Arms (Young Americans Remix) on Dance Rock Radio! - YouTube)


I actually think the most obvious solution is just adding a Remixer relationship. not all songwriting credits are on the work level, just look at the Classical Style Guidelines and how they handle arrangements. I have been told (I forget where) that in most cases, an Arranger relationship should be on the recording. (note, I haven’t dared touch classical Works, because I’ve got no experience in that area) :wink:

I’m not saying that’s how I think it should be, this is just my previous experience. I would love a more robust works system, with hierarchies and whatnot, but that’s just a pipe dream at the moment…

edit: I meant to link a collection of remixes I’ve been working on. might give you some more examples to look at :wink:

I second this point. with how works are currently displayed, creating that many new works would make the data much harder to browse.

my “new work qualifications” list looks pretty similar, save for:

  • new arrangement credits alone shouldn’t mean a new work. however, if an arrangement is significant enough and/or several artists have covered that arrangement, then it should have a new work.
  • if a lyrical change is significant, that could mean a new work. for example, the Christian praise song “How He Loves” has one line which is hotly debated. even though it’s just a single line, I think it could be a significant enough change for a new work (or in this case, at least 2)
  • if a song takes a lot from 2 or more compositions, then it gets a new work with “Based on” relationships. for example, a mashup or Through the Tables and Memes in my earlier post.

It’s funny that this came up now, because I was listening to this track and its remix on bandcamp earlier today to be sure they were, in fact, related tracks. I had to dig well into the middle of both before I could find the commonality. It seems almost like the second track samples the first rather than being a remix (to be fair, I didn’t listen to them in their entirety, just enough to convince myself). I’m on board with “artist intent”, so no quibble there.

On the other hand, I was trying to decide what to do with this track, which is credited to the original artist but is in fact a cover. I left it credited to Beati Mortui with a link to the original work.


i was actually thinking about that example when reading this thread haha. i know people who think the “sloppy wet kiss” line is genuinely offensive (i disagree, for the record), and if i added my high school youth pastor’s rendition of How He Loves to MB, i’m sure he’d want it to be super clear which version he was covering.

a kinda similar example is this song by an artist i do a lot of editing on. the lyrics of the later version are almost exactly the same, but the melody had to be significantly altered to make it legally distinct enough from the original to be sold. it’s Super Important to the artist that these are different pieces of music, so i keep them separate.

and also because both versions use instrumentals that already existed and linking them together is pretty important to me lol

i have pretty much no idea when i put remixes in the same work and when i separate them. it bothers me a lot actually, because i like to have pretty hard-set rules about what i do in MB, but i just can’t figure this one out lol. if they “feel” like separate works, i separate them. i have no idea what this means in any practical sense.


Lots of good discussion here. Thanks for that.

Ah good. I was hoping for a “lumper” to join in :wink:.
Yes agreed, I always like to have some clear guidelines to hold on as well. So far I have been using the wiki page. I don’t mind adding some guidelines at some point, but I want to be confident that these are backed up by community consensus.

That’s an excellent point, but if I understand you correctly, we’d be accepting that the remixer relationship absorbs some of the activities subsumed under the “writer” role. As I said, I am pragmatic so willing to accept some spillover but I wonder how widely that sentiment is shared.

I have some of those as well, where the only thing linking the remix to the original is a sample of the hook.

Yeah, same here. Common sense goes a long way, but something written down would be welcome.

Aye, at the moment I’d prefer things to have works than not have any work, similar to what aerozol said.

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in theory, all artist–recording relationships imply some measure of artistic input to a recording, (save for maybe a couple under Miscellaneous support). whether it’s as obvious as a vocal or instrument credit, or more background roles like the audio engineers and instrument technicians. I’m sure this is one reason I’ve seen several bands specifically credit all members as writers, whether as the group or individually.

my thought is, if writing credits can be found (physical release or digital), those should be used. if not, I don’t usually add any artist credits to the work.

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For documenting purposes: While investigating an editing history I came across an old discussion I have had with @IvanDobsky on this very same topic. The KLF is another notorious headache case.