When to merge RGs - Soundtracks/scores of different nature for the same film/game

I’m starting this discussion to seek some clarity on what is considered the minimum threshold for merging release groups in the case of soundtracks/scores of different origin (official and bootleg) created for the same media product (film/videogame).

The relevant style guideline says “Release groups should be used to group variations of the same release.”

The fundamental question here is what is the minimum threshold (in terms of commonality) for concluding we have a variation of the same release. Should it be “music composed for the same application/purpose”, even if packaged in completely different tracklists? Or is it rather a shared (part of) tracklist? If the latter, where do we set the bar?

I have seen several editors opening related edits (see e.g. here, here and here) and I think this deserves broad discussion.

Despite pointing to this partially related previous discussion on game soundtracks, I think a clearer steer is needed, as related edits keep being opened.

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I think soundtrack material should be put into the same RG’s more often, as per my comments here:

Even when tracks are different, I think the question should be ‘does this help users find things/navigate’ (I’m just talking about soundtracks here).
Grouping samplers and game rips with different tracklists but that people would nonetheless expect to see together seems logical to me, but I understand it’s not in line with current guidelines so I haven’t pushed any edits like that through.

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Soundtracks aren’t fundamentally different to singles/albums of songs.

These 3 release groups need to be kept separate per any reasonable interpretation of multiple Style guidelines:

If you apply the logic as to why those 3 release groups are separated to other cases that aren’t so obviously separate volumes / 2-in-1 releases, a reasonable person should still be able to conclude that if they have a 10-track release, it’s not a different edition of a 60-track release (ignoring bonus tracks / bonus video discs.)

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As @aerozol mentioned, this is a well-worn topic for some of us, and I was drawn to this thread from https://musicbrainz.org/edit/96054579, which is an edit to merge two Metroid Prime bootleg soundtrack rip RGs, and figured I’d weigh in here with the note I put on that:

I think whether or not releases for certain things sharing RGs makes sense is situational, but (obviously) in this case I think it’s warranted to have them together. I see RGs as kind of similar to Works, as they represent the “idea” of a release, and this idea can have multiple different concrete implementations. Sometimes, a soundtrack would get released in two parts as two distinct releases, in which case it’d make sense to draw a line of distinction between them and keep their RGs separate too, but that’s not the case here, and these are both representing the idea of a fully ripped Metroid Prime soundtrack, distinct from the Prime/Fusion bundled official soundtrack release.

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Can you be more specific?

Because your examples have an ‘intent’ to be separate, which is why I would not group them. A ‘full’ game rip and a officially released soundtrack for the same game often do not have that intent (I would apply different logic if they were named or packaged in some way that showed intent beyond simply representing the music in that game).

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With Films. If a sound track includes the exact same recordings, then I tend to keep the RGs together. If the Bootleg has ripped tracks from the same film which are therefore the same recording as the Official soundtrack, then they end up in the same RG.

If this is a cover band, different orchestra doing a new version, then that is a different Release Group.

I don’t understand gaming soundtracks enough to comment.

This is also based on how you’ll get a album from a band in a normal RG. Alongside a deluxe album with extra tracks. An anniversary album with extra studio demos. If the main heart of the track list is common, then a common RG. But you would not put in that release group something performed by a fan.

A good example:

There are many unofficial repackaged versions. Partially due to how long it took for an official version to be released. There are many variations in here, but they share the common source of recordings. These are recordings from the original film.

The official album is 12 tracks. Some of the bootlegs can extend this to over 100 different sections from the film. Like an official “deluxe edition” can often do.

Not in this RG are all the covers from the same film. Different artists performing the same track. (Including game versions) Those have their own RGs even though they are related to the same film.

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FYI this is generally the same case with game soundtracks/rips, your Blade Runner example works pretty good for both.

Similarly to film rips you can have a lot of differentiation between the two, even if the recordings they’re based on are the same. For instance much longer tracklists for fan rips, which tend to aim for ‘completeness’, as with film rips.

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This is why I picked it. Some of those bootlegs are huge, but at the heart is the same audio. Same performance. Just repackaged like a music artist who keeps repackaging deluxe\anniversary editions.

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For clarity, it would be great if editors with specific expertise in this type of releases could answer a question I’ve asked before in one of the linked edits, i.e.:

If the source material is the same, I don’t think it matters too much how the bootlegs name and cut up their tracks.

How do these bootlegs assemble their content?

I am specifically trying to understand if there is something in the nature of these releases that makes tracklists and track titles a less reliable indicator of similarity, meaning that we should not blindly apply the same criteria we use elsewhere in the database.

Also, if a majority view emerges, would one of the editors who have a definite opinion be willing to put forward a targeted amendment to the RG style guideline? I would really like this discussion to leave us in a better position than the previous ones.

I’ve actually got an example I’ve worked on of a video game that got a couple different official audio CD releases.

this release group includes the game releases (the audio files are included within the game files, and the deluxe edition added more tracks), and unofficial gamerips.

however, linked to this release group are the partial CD/digital media releases of the soundtrack. perhaps this is a good middle ground?

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I’d be happy to spend time to draftingsomething with the consensus/outcome (if reached :see_no_evil:), we should probably have done this long ago…

Tracklists can differ greatly, often for these reasons:

  • When bootlegs/rips come out before the official release the community comes up with their own names (or bases it on filenames, level names, and so on), which remains ‘correct’ for that release even when the actual titles come out later.
  • Commonly the game rip is much longer because it includes all kinds of incidental/extra sounds that are in the game. The official album usually aims for a commercially acceptable ‘album’ length consisting of ‘song’ length tracks.
  • Although the same recordings, in-game audio can also be cut up differently, played back together with other music or sound effects, or with dialogue, which is then included in a game rip. Similarly to how vinyl rips can struggle to find the start or end of songs.
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Providing concrete examples of the edits that brought to open the topic, and still open to vote:

https://musicbrainz.org/edit/96038701
https://musicbrainz.org/edit/96073642
https://musicbrainz.org/edit/96074980
https://musicbrainz.org/edit/95907121

They keep on being downvoted with the reason “different tracklists”, but downvoter seems to not understand that, as you highlighted here in your answers, bootlegs, promos, expanded versions… will never have a tracklist that matches 100% the official version.
Keeping that in mind, rules already told us here Style / Release Group - MusicBrainz these are all examples of releases that should be grouped together!

FYI, your query does not work for anybody who isn’t logged in to your account.

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That’s unfortunate! I had to replace the search query with some of the single edits.

I see different puzzle with each.

Troy - too different. More like comparing a highlights CD with a full Release. No tracks are actually common.
Dunkirk - are any of those rips lifted from the official CD? Or just fresh from the film soundtrack?
Disney - they are two very different releases. Artwork errors have confused them to look the same. A poke around Edit histories shows they are separate. Found the Volume 1 which shares the same subtitle.

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I would cancel related edits until this discussion has been closed tbh (they are good examples to talk about though).

Once enough people have commented one way or another you can open them and then link them here.

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Troy - Good example of what’s being discussed here. Core recordings seem to be the same, but different lengths (depending on how they cut intro/outro), different track titles, order, and one is expanded
Dunkirk - Would like to merge as per comments above (intent and ‘does this help users find things/navigate’)
Dodgeball - Good example of two rips that can be really different but all be based on the same core recordings/film. Merge unless someone can show that a fan re-recorded the film score themselves : D
Disney - Since this is a ‘themed collection’ and not a ‘soundtrack’ I don’t think these releases are relevant to this particular discussion

(Even though I am in favour of these merges long-term, I don’t think the current guidelines are clear. I would not merge without consensus here first)

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If we cannot trust tracklists/track titles as an indicator of similarity and we want to avoid the situation where only editors with a PhD in that specific film/game can contribute meaningfully, we need to make the guideline much, much more explicit than it is now.

To the point where we would always group releases referring to the same media product together, except if there was a specific intent to separate them in volumes.

Do you see other feasible options?

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We do have a similar precedent. Live Concert Bootlegs from the same date \ same gig will be gathered in the same Release Group. Even when different recorders are in different parts of the building. They often get the same concert sliced in various different ways, but share audio from that same event.

This would cover Dunkirk and Dogeball examples. Bootlegs that share a common source, but different editing. I see the logic of finding them together.

Troy is confusing though. This is an official release completely repackaged.

I would err towards this, as if we can’t tell the difference, then someone searching can’t tell the difference, and they’re having to muddle through different groupings. Or sometimes not. Ugh.

With the caveat that re-recordings or 100% different recordings should probably still be separated.

One interesting thing here is the definition of ‘recording’ in regards to rips. I don’t see them as re-recordings, but some people have interpreted it that way. For instance, if you record the music directly off a game/movie, with incidental sound included and all that. I wouldn’t separate them, that’s adding layers of complexity that doesn’t help anybody, but perhaps someone feels differently?

If it includes all the original tracks (I haven’t listened to all of them but it seems to), then I think it’s one of those annoying reissues where they reinvent the wheel. Or maybe the original was annoyingly crap so it needed the overhaul.

The intent and audio is similar enough for me to want to merge, but I guess there will always be a grey area/stuff that has to go to vote :+1:

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