Tricky releases for a newcomer: archive releases of old recordings, home recordings, private tapes

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Hi. I’ve recently set out to reorganize my music collection with consistent tagging, but became interested in contributing more to the database aspect of MB. Most of the music I’ve added since joining has been Irish traditional music, and mostly commercially-available or formerly-available releases. I’ve read the style guidelines and I’m doing my best to fix up any initial submissions that may be inconsistent with them, but now I’m mostly done these “easy” entries and have some head-scratchers remaining, and don’t want to just wing it without some thoughts of more experienced members.

What I’m left with so far is:

  • Digitized 78s, many from archive.org (ex., Touhey 78). These are mostly easy to release as singles, since many of the catalog numbers and labels are included; I wonder if I should consider the digitization online as a separate release, or just use the original shellac by itself?

  • Academic and archive releases of old cylinders (ex. Busby-Carney collection, Henebry/O’Neill collection). An easier case is the Francis O’Neill cylinders, released as a CD (but also free on SoundCloud) by the Ward Music Archive. Many of these old cylinders were sold by the artist, but not commercially released in the conventional sense. These physical copies are unique with no additional physical copies as far as I’m aware; do they warrant release as singles, recordings, or should the archive playlist be considered the release? I’ll use Patsy Touhey again as an example:

By 1901 Touhey was running a unique mail-order service out of his home in New York. From a catalogue of 150 airs and dance tunes, it was possible to request cylinders custom-made for $1 each or $10 for twelve.

  • Other archive releases. Some are based on field recordings or private home recordings (Ann Lane, Dr. O’Beirne recordings). Some of these may be considered bootlegs? Others are commissioned by the archive for their exhibits and released for free streaming (Ceol Goodman le Peter Browne).

  • Misc. recordings released as informal albums. Sometimes come from shared tapes that have been passed around in the music community. Sometimes with, sometimes without artist involvement or awareness. My feeling is many can be categorized as bootlegs (example). These BBC recordings are another weird case. What about this informal cassette release of 78 recordings?

  • Sometimes artists release an informal track list on SoundCloud from a live show at a small venue. I think these should be live album releases, is that correct?

  • I’m also thinking of adding individual recordings for tracks released on YouTube, for performances at a festival for example, that aren’t available or released commercially. Or videos like this. Thoughts on these?

I think the genre-specific considerations of traditional music make many of these unusual recordings quite valuable from a historical perspective and thought that might be appropriate for this database. Thanks for any input!

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I have added a few 78s from archive.org; my approach was to add the 78 itself as a single, with a “stream for free” link to archive.org. See https://musicbrainz.org/release/ee039d99-39a6-4215-afef-fa23fb28a39e (where I seem to have only added a stream link to “I Wonder…” ) for example.

Some time back I started a discussion about informally traded recordings here, general consensus seemed to be that “bootleg” was the best fit. I haven’t actually added many, though.

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Thanks, I’m just starting to work through my 78s folder now.

I searched through all the existing shellac format releases and haven’t come across this case yet: in Irish music, tracks with multiple tunes have the tunes separated by space-slash-space in the title. In 78 rpm singles, the sides are also separated with space-slash-space. In the case where one side has multiple tunes on that track, what should the format be here? I’ve seen the following:

Tune A1 / Tune A2 // Tune B1 / Tune B2

But I have not seen any examples of this type of release in the database, nor anything mentioned in the guidelines. I might go ahead with that form of titling, and if there are better suggestions I will go back and change them.

Edit: on second thought, once I actually see the titles as formatted above it can get really cumbersome. Would keeping the formatting as it is on the labels for the release title, and using space-slash-space for the track titles, be better? Like:

Release title: Tune A1, Tune A2 / Tune B1, Tune B2
Track titles: Tune A1 / Tune A2 etc.