Untangling incorrectly-credited artists

I just spent some time trying to clean up a mess, so now I figure I should ask if there’s something easier that I could’ve done.

While adding performer credits for a jazz album, I noticed that there’s a Josh Johnson with no disambiguation (I’ve since added one) who had received a bunch of credits that actually belong to the currently-active jazz saxophonist Josh Johnson. The former Josh actually had more credits than the latter Josh, which I think made him rank higher in search results, which probably resulted in editors giving him even more incorrect credits.

After checking the edit history on the former Josh, I saw that he was initially added for a track on this 2004 Irish acoustic cover charity album, so I added a disambiguation to try to prevent further incorrect credits (another update is in-flight) and got to work trying to move some recent credits over to the saxophonist.

The only way that I could find to do this was:

  • Go to the former Josh’s recordings page.
  • Open each incorrect recording and then open each release that it appears on.
  • For one release, edit the credit in the tracklist to point at the latter Josh and copy it to the recording.
  • For the other releases, just edit the tracklists (to avoid duplicate/conflicting recording edits).

I was lucky that none of the release groups had more than three releases. I would’ve liked to be able to just select all of the misattributed recordings and tell MB to update the Josh Johnson credits on them to point to the correct artist, and also to update the tracklists of any associated releases. Is there some way to do that that I missed?

And just to mention it, I’m not certain that the Josh Johnson who performed the song for the charity album is the same person as the Josh Johnson who until 2009 was in The Van Buren Regulars (a group not in MB) and who now appears to work as a graphic designer. Both seem to be acoustic rock performers, and Discogs lumps them together, but it also includes a credit for the saxophonist so it’s clearly not to be trusted. Would it be better for me to give the former Josh a one-off disambiguation like “covered ‘See it in a Boy’s Eyes’ with Declan O’Rourke” (since I think that that’ll be his only remaining credit)? If so, should I also remove the link to the junky Discogs page?

The former Josh also had a bunch of credits on this production music album that look like they actually belong to Joshua William Johnson. I’ve created edits to fix those too.

I guess that this message is also a plea to editors to do some research before assigning featured/various credits to the first artist that comes up in a search, particularly when they have common names. I know from personal experience that it’s a pain to do this when adding albums with a bunch of vague “feat. John Smith” credits, but it’s much easier (and satisfying!) for future editors to merge one-off artists with descriptive disambiguation comments than it is for them to try to untangle artists that represent multiple unrelated people.

In the past, I’ve been able to track down vague credits by doing web searches like "[main artist]" "[featured artist]" or "[featured artist]" "[song title]", which often turn up clues on social media or SoundCloud. And if all else fails, I’ve noticed that Spotify seems to do a better job of crediting featured artists than other platforms.


This is even more of a mess than I realized, since I hadn’t looked at the relationships page yet. That had some saxophone recording credits and a composer credit that should point at the saxophonist, a 2013 glass harmonica instrument credit that I have no idea about, and some assistant engineer credits on an album by The Tontons that Discogs assigns to yet another Josh Johnson who doesn’t seem to be in MB.

I suspect that the engineer may be the guy interviewed here (also on LinkedIn) since his studio is in Texas and the album was recorded there, but I see at least one more US audio engineer named Joshua Johnson (Facebook), so I’m holding off on adding a new artist without any more information. Should I delete the assistant engineer relationships in the meantime, since they’re almost certainly pointing at the wrong artist?

(If nothing else, I guess I learned about the glass [h]armonica, including that it was invented by Benjamin Franklin.)


There is always a positive from clearing up a mess. :joy: I’ve learnt a lot from similar mess clearances.

You have plenty of support from me… have seen this happen more than once. And Spotify is also far from perfect as I could find examples where they get artists confused where Spotify have mushed two or three artists into one.

Here’s one: Spotify thinks Skinhorse and Skinhorse are the same artist. But Deezer gets it right. Humans and data entry…

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The more I look at this, the more weird stuff that I see. As I was adding the saxophonist’s Bandcamp page to MB, I noticed that the “shows” sidebar on Bandcamp lists a bunch of songkick.com URLs for upcoming stand-up comedy shows featuring yet another Josh Johnson. I had assumed that an artist’s own Bandcamp page wouldn’t mix them up with someone else with the same name, but I guess I was overly optimistic. :person_facepalming:

Does anyone with Bandcamp-publishing experience know how this could’ve happened? Does Bandcamp add these shows automatically? Did the label make a mistake?

it could possibly that the label made a mistake if the artist’s Bandcamp is run by them. based on the Bandcamp documentation, it looks like the Songkick integration probably wouldn’t show another artist’s shows, provided they got the right link tho…

I will also note that Spotify is definitely not perfect with splitting artists (Alex S.) or combining artists (Chi-Chi).

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It depends who is updating the page. If a low paid trainee on work experience at the label did the task, then no one will notice. See also that Spotify example above.

You also will have artists editing Bandcamp pages who just are not computer people. So stumble through the controls they are given not really knowing what is going on.

At least on MB we have other eyes who will eventually spot and correct this. It is the major advantage of a database like this.

Much of the time the editor who is adding the details on any of these systems doesn’t have a clue as to who these people are. So they make an educated guess. There is no simple answer.

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Ah, the classic ‘trying to add one credit and then spend a day untangling a bunch of artists’. Great work!!

Just want to pipe in with encouragement to add whatever disambiguations you need to, including (features on this one specific thing).

p.s. Also another nudge for people to not be afraid of adding basic disambiguations even when there is no other identical name. To nip this in the bud. I know this is debated, so let’s just say particularly for potentially common names


All the databases have their own issues. Allmusic tends to lump same name artists together so be careful when using them as a reference. Discogs while much better than Allmusic still has its on issue with editors not doing research. MB to a lesser degree has the issue. I have even found that I have used the wrong artist (usually from a pull down menu mistake).

I subscribe to over 2000 bluegrass artists (most of who I added), I get emails for edits on them and look the edit over, sometimes moving a credit to a existing artist or adding a new artist to move the credit to. Its just the nature of the beast.

You are correct It can take a lot of time to do good research. Sometimes that research may span years to get it right. In the end we get a better database thanks to the efforts the editors.


Been there, done that, got the t-shirt…for what it’s worth, I haven’t found a simpler or less time consuming process than the one you describe. Kudos to you!