Years active of a solo artist

When looking for a solo artist the date appearing on its bio is their birth date. I wanted to know if there’s a way to register or look for the date of the year which the artist started its activity. Something like the founding date in groups. You can see on Wikipedia they show both the birth date and years active of the artist. An example: Michael Jackson was born in 1958 but he started being an artist since 1964 until 2009. Thee should be fields both for beggining and end date of activity period of a solo artist.

What is “active” when talking about an artist?

I think @ereyesc95 is referring to the years an artist was active in the music industry, as opposed to their general lifespan. Most artists aren’t active in infancy or childhood, for example, or they might retire from music before they die. We currently have no way to track this outside of annotations.

Should this be a manual value? Are there reliable sources for this for artists less famous than Michael Jackson?
I think a calculated value from releases and relationships might be better.


This probably isn’t a good idea, since many artists continue to be active long after they stop releasing new material; one example I’m thinking of is Dangerous Toys, who haven’t released a new album since 1995 but still continue to tour to this day.
I think in the event we ever have these date fields, the “end” date shouldn’t be set until an artist announces their retirement or dies (which AFAIK is what Wikipedia does).

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That’s why I suggested to factor in relationships.
One just has to add a recent event and link them as a performer and the value would update.

Again, that would be sensible for famous artists. But underground artists or one hit wonders rarely ever announce their retirement.

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Which is why I asked what his definition of “active” is.

Since, unlike WP, MB doesn’t focus exclusively on celebrities, an active period would be very hard to determine.
I happen to have performed in my first grade choir. Does this make me active at 6 years old?
What if I never released an album but have only performed live, you can’t base it on albums. You have to go by my live performance dates, which would be 1st grade.

And, like Hibiscus said, many acts have very long careers after their involvement with the “corporate machine” ends. But the same applies before their first album. Long periods of activity just trying to get to that point.

As an authored site, MB should be very careful with this sort of data.

I’m not saying a calculated value would work. Just that a manual value definitely won’t, because it’s almost always going to be a guess and nothing more.
Not saying that with bands there isn’t already a lot of guessing going on too.

A manual value can be left blank unless there’s documentation, as with other manually maintained data on MB.

Depends. Is that documented somewhere? I don’t think it’s that unusual for artist biographies or liner notes to mention when they started performing (though maybe not their first grade choir).

If we did have such a feature it would be good to be able to have multiple active periods (this applies to groups as well). For instance Dock Boggs was active for a few years in the 1920s and then resumed his music career in the 1960s, during the “folk revival”. Listing his active years as “1927 - 1971” would be somewhat misleading.

On MB, it will be documented as soon as I enter it. There was probably someone with a camcorder who even has a copy. But I do not have a copy. There is a program for the event.

If I was at the Beyonce level of the business, it probably wouldn’t be listed. But if all I ever did in music was perform at a couple festivals or other musical theatre type events…
Unless I have been misinformed, I do believe MB wants all things music. And would encourage my seemingly insignificant performance.

The point is, MB and WP have different guidelines because they serve different purposes. The 1927-1971 would be accurate on MB, but not accurate on WP.

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If you’re the artist, adding it to your own entry, fine. Otherwise, we’d expect that information to be supported by some external documentation.

My interpretation is not so much that MB encourages an “insignificant” performance, but rather that if someone considers it significant enough to add to the database, then it’s significant.

I don’t agree. If he was neither performing nor recording during the period 1929-1963, what’s the benefit of considering him “active”?

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The automatic value would not only look at releases but also ask relationships and events for minimum and maximum dates.

It still means inferring a definite value from the simple absence of data in MB. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

It’s the same as with release group dates, where when you know the original release date is earlier than what you see you just add the original release that will update the group date.

Here, when you know the activity date is not soon enough because they started rehearsing early age, then you just add a rehearsing event in some area with some other future band mates, let’s say.

With this kind of system you also have full but indirect control over the date but it is less likely to remain empty for 98% of the artists.
It could be a cool indicator actually.

We could show a small remark saying that it is a computed date looking to the related earliest entity or relationship that was used, for information and hint on how to fix this date.

I always think it is better to not have to edit info manually in a redundant manner.
It already works good for:

  • artist age (oh, this one is missing?)
  • recording length
  • release group date

The bigger problem is the end date. If you calculate an end date, it looks like all active artists stopped being active in 2018. Next year we need to add events or releases for every active artist to make them active through 2019, and so on. Very different from a release group where it’s a one-time update.

I see people already mentioned artists who keep performing after their latest album. But what about the other case, where an artist stopped being active (or is deceased) but still has: a) some demos released that were never released before, b) re-released (usually re-mastered) albums, c) new compilation albums. By the automatic input they would still be shown as “active” in these dates, which might be fine for “inactive” artists, but is definitely wrong for deceased artists. I see nothing wrong with having to add these values manually, however I can already see the edit wars between editors who would think about different dates being “right” etc…


Is end of activity date really useful?
I don’t remember reading such a date.
I remember having read activity start date…

And also if there is an end date, it should not be updated after artist deceased or when compilations or lives, etc. are released.

It’s in the original post. It’s also something that wikipedia includes, see the Dock Boggs entry I referenced upthread.

Exactly, this is another reason why calculated dates are problematic.

I would rather not see “active” dates on structured sites like MB (especially considering how low our “notability” requirements are). The active dates with structured data should be assumed within the posted data.
Let the non-structured sites like WP write it free-form.

If MB did add it, it would have to be automatic and should be listed something like “posted activity”. That way it is clear that the activity is based on what is posted on the site, not a definitive real world date.
And I would even be ok with the date being posthumous. It should be quite obvious the Mozart is still not performing at 400 years old. But it would let people know that the interest in his music is still happening.


I don’t think it’s hard to come up with a formula that considers the death date.
On the other hand, I would say that 2Pac was active until 2006 - 10 years after his death.
Sure he recorded all the songs before his death, but he planned for these 7 albums to be released posthumously.

I’d like to see a report comparing the activity dates we have for bands with calculated values to see how many bands we currently have with founding dates that are after their first album release or live performance or with dissolving dates that are past the deaths of all the members or before their last studio album release.

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