When to merge same artists?

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As a noob, sometimes it is easy to know if artist should be merged. Other times…

Situations 1 - I have come across a situation where there are two listings. One for a legal name (which has credits) and one for a stage name (which has credits). In the “overview”, both say “also performs under” the other name - otherwise I wouldn’t have even known they were the same person.

Situation 2 - And a second situation where an artist has two listings. But at least with this one, I have seen an interview stating that he uses two separate names based on the work he is doing. He’s even been credited on the same albums as two separate names but usually the two do not work together. It’s a business thing, where one name is his name and the other falls under a DBa/ficitious entity.



Personally I would not merge ether as it makes it easier to add writing credits with one representing the legal name and one the stage name.


But “alias” and “credited as” do that.


I’m in the middle of adding the catalogue of an online artist who’s gone through three aliases since they started. It makes sense to have every name associated with the same entity, but since they don’t use their legal name on their music, I want to carry the distinction of what period they released some recording in (as reflected by what alias they used) through the releases, recordings, “performer” credits, and works. The first two are easy enough, but the relationships being added seperately means I wind up typing the alias about three times for each release – and since they use the Soundcloud/YouTube model of releasing individual songs rather than albums, that’s a lot of releases. Yeah, I might be able to copy it rather than typing it out each time, but because I’m adding URLs I’d need to store it in another window (by which point it’s not too much longer to have typed it), and that wouldn’t help making sure I didn’t forget an AC field.

Replace “alias” with “legal name” in much of that, and the task is pretty similar: if the entities are merged, you wind up needing to type one name into the AC over and over, hoping your fingers don’t slip on the keys (or else greatly increasing your mouse’s travel time) and that you didn’t skip changing a field. If you’re working with artists that have any real hope of being edited by anybody beyond you and the artist themself, you also have to hope those future editors will also add the proper AC rather than just linking the entity. The artist’s legal name may even include Unicode characters, making everything all the more difficult. On the other hand, if the legal name is a separate DB entity, all you have to do is link it and you know – barring shortened forms – that it will be displayed correctly.

That’s deliberately an overly-bleak picture, and I actually tend to be on the side of merging if the legal entity’s not all that notable in the database, but I wanted to present some of the considerations that should go into merging the entities. Yeah it can all be covered by our systems, but that doesn’t mean the editing process is the same.

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Yeah there should definitely be some consideration when making such edits. There’s also a counter-example to your “slipping keys case” (btw. what about if we got pre-filled aliases as options when crediting artists differently?) and the counter-example is that often people start adding releases to the entity with full name which is being used for e.g. writer relationship credits and under the performer artist credit instead of adding it to the performer entity.

I would personally merge artists in case 1 if it’s a straight-forward example that there is one entity for performance name which is used on releases and other entity is used with legal name with writer relationship credits (or similar) and/or they are linked with legal name/performance relationship. Just as @justcheckingitout pointed out, legal name alias and “credited as” fulfill this case perfectly and these two conditions have been the main two reasons people haven’t been merging artists in such cases in the past. I did an edit just like this not so long ago: https://musicbrainz.org/edit/46106242.

As for case 2 it depends, there are cases where such merge should be okay (e.g. Jon Bon Jovi is also credited as Jon Bongiovi, John Bongiovi, John Bon Giovi and John Francis Bongiovi on his older solo releases) and instead of there being 5 different entities, there’s just one with 5 different artist credits. But in most cases I guess I wouldn’t merge the artists, especially if the artist is using their various aliases simultaneously and for different projects.

Separate Artists or No?