History talk:Release Type Restructuring Proposal

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Note: This document might contain BadTerminology or references to renamed entities because of the terminology change from Album to Release.


Main Types


  • how do we describe *serious* vs. *unserious* classical albums (I am sure the classical mods understand what I mean. but others are probably confused as heck XD)

the following long section is by adamgolding:

To solve the issues around classical release types, first we need to get our heads around the distinction between a 'publication' and a 'work' and a 'movement' in classical music. Printed publications are essentially the pre-recording technology equivalent of 'albums'. Just like some albums are concept albums and some aren't, some publications unify their parts more than others.

Beethoven's Op. 1 and Op. 2 are publications which each have three 'works' within them (i.e. Op.2 no. 3), and each work has 3 or four movements each. The distinction between a 'work' and a 'movement' is usually quite clear, although the line between a a work and a publication is often blurred. In the case of the op.2 sonatas, each sonata sounds fine and complete on its own, but if you listen to all three in succession you get at least some impression of an even larger dramatic unity (this is part of why Beethoven was a revolutionary, but I digress). However earlier composer's published collections may or may not be intended to be heard as a 'meta-work' (i.e. like episodes in a series) in this way. In some cases it make have been chance factors that determined which compositions got published together.

  • In my opinion the easiest way to manage this is to think any catalog/opus number of a Composer as an album. So, in the same way we consider that pop releases that contains two different complete albums as ReleaseType=Album, a classical release containing only full opus is still an Album. Any other kind of release is a compilation, let's say till your point 5 included (note that from this point of view point 7 could be controversial). Of course following this any other attribute like live, bootleg or promotional must be avoided. -- ClutchEr2
    • well firstly, it seems strange to do that in pop cases! maybe 'compound album' is more appropriate. but this isn't good for cases when 'complete works' are still very short--i.e. when you have an album full of random madrigals that are standalone works. this is clearly an 'anthology' (and might say so on the cover) and not an 'album'.

Anyway, we have several levels of 'release types' in existence for classical composers. (I won't use musicbrainz terminology, but will simply describe the releases in normal English). I'll list them, attempting to order them starting with the most 'alnum-likee' leading to the most 'compilation-like'.

note that distinguishing these categories could eventually be done automatically--I'm preparing a separate post on how to handle publications etc. in general.

1. A set of the Composer's complete works. i.e. The Complete Beethoven Edition. This has subvolumes, etc. but is sold as a set of a 100 or so cds (i forget how many, exactly).

2. A set of the Composer's complete works in one medium, i.e. "Mozart Complete String Quartets". This usually won't have subvolumes unless the body of work is very large, i.e. Bach's cantatas

3. A release containing exactly one complete publication and no other music. I.e. "Beethoven's Op.2 sonatas" or "Monteverdi's 4th book of madrigals" or "Beethoven's 9th symphony" (since the symphony was published alone) Note that this publication may even be by various composers, i.e. "The Magnus Liber Organi".

4. A release containing part, but not all of a publication, and no other music. This could (but doesn't have to) be subdivided into

  • 4a. where the release contains only complete works that were included in the publication (but not all of them)
    • i.e. Beethoven's op.1 nos. 2 and 3 but not no.1 i.e. Vivaldi's four seasons (the four seasons was published as part of a larger cycle of 12 or so concerti) i.e. only Vivaldi's "Spring". (this is also a 'complete work' within the four seasons, because it is a concerto unto
      • itself--so we have 4 concertos which are a complete sub-works of the 4 seasons, which is a complete sub-work of the larger publication)
    4b. where the release contains at least one incomplete work from the publication, but at least one complete work
    • i.e. Beethoven's op.1 no.1, and then only the first movement of op.1 no.3.
    4c. where the release contains no complete work from the publication, but only incomplete parts:
    • i.e. the first movements only from the op.2 sonatas I would actually rank 4c much lower than the other parts of 4, however.

5. A release containing more than one complete publication by the same composer, but no partial publications

  • i.e. Beethoven's 5th symphony and Beethoven's 6th symphony

6. A release containing a complete publication by one composer, and then a partial publication in addition:

  • i.e. Beethoven's 5th and his op.2no.3 sonata

7. A release containing more than one complete publication, but by different composers, and no partial publications

  • i.e. Beethoven's 5th and Ravel's piano concerto.

8. A release containing a complete publication by one composer, and a partial publication by a different composer in addition:

  • i.e. Ravel's piano concerto and Beethoven's op.2 no.3 sonata

9. A release containing one or more partial publications by the same composer, but no complete publications

  • i.e. Vivaldi's spring and Beethoven's op.2 no.3 sonata

10. a release containing one or more partial publications by more than one composer, but no complete publications. 10 subdivides more importantly into:

  • 10a. single performer, single era AND region (i.e. The Hilliard Ensemble plays medieval english music) 10b. singler performer, single era only (i.e. The Hilliard Ensemble plays the best of the renaissance) 10c. singler performer, single region only (i.e. The Hilliard Ensemble plays english music throughout the ages) 10d. single, performer, variable era AND region (i.e. The Hilliard Ensemble in concert) and then those four distinctions again when you have variable performers.

there's probably a simpler way to model this than the way I've set out. basically we have several things that can vary:

  • composer performer era region form (i.e. masses only, vs masses mixed with other types of music)

plus all the stuff about publications, works, and movements.


I really can't see any usefulness in having a Classical release type (apart from generating more and more flames about it) but I'm neutral to this. About classical album vs compilation, we know it's a tricky matter and open since composer never released an album but performers do everytime; I can't think about a couple of Piano Sonata written in different times but released once (and maybe on a single recording session) as a compilation which to me is a collection of previously released material. Moreover we have the highlights case: often it's not a compilation of best tracks of a full performance but they record just only parts of a 3 album work to fit in one. I'm open to discussion about all this but I think we need to reach consensus: make the nth exception for managing classical/opera or fit them somehow in standard rules? --ClutchEr2

  • I in fact envisioned this 'classical' type namely to *be* this 'nth exception' you speak of. also I wanted a way to assign any type of release where different rules than the regular ones where used in the upsetting of the release information (artist, track name etc) namely that whenever an album has the 'classical' tag, it will *always* have the composer as the artist, and not the performer (which is usually the case) I wanted to ask you though, should 'highlights' be a subsection under 'compilation'? or is that not necessary? ~mo
    • To be really strict, IMHO highlights should be a subset under Album or even better a different type at the same level: it's not already released material but it's not an album thinking from the composer side. Anyway I'm not asking so much, probably common sense sees it fit under compilation. --Clutcher2


"releases that are re-releases of 2 or more releases on one disc" - I've never heard of one of these being referred to as a "split" before. in my experience, splits are always "releases where two or more artists share a disc". I'm not sure what you'd call the former - i'd say compilation but i think just classifying it as album (or, if it's 2 eps, "EP", etc.) would suffice. hmm! dunno :) --Gecks

  • just look at corresponding WP page -- 218
    • I'm not sure I follow how that wikipage shows that "Split" ought to apply to dualdiscs... As with Gecks, I've only ever heard the term applied to split singles. Lumping split singles and dualdiscs together, also - I just can't quite see why we'd want to do it? One group is a sub-category of singles, the other a sub-category of albums... -- BrianSchweitzer 23:24, 20 June 2007 (UTC)


With the current proposal there is a problem with compilations/samplers, because they can't be put under one of the exclusive types "album", "single", "EP". IMO compilation needs to be moved here. In the NextGenerationSchema the exclusive main types will be attached to the album entry, while the other ticky-box-main-types will be attributes of the release.

Album describes a "concept" of a group of similar releases, and making a compilation is a different concept than making an album, because the first involves selecting some old releases while the second includes material that hasn't been released before.--Fuchs

  • Album is BadTerminology in retrospect, what I mean with "album" here is *Long Play* as supposed to *Extended Play* or 'Single' so these should fit into [album] (full length, or LP) [compilation] ~mo I don't think that only the exclusive main types should be attached to the album entry in the NGS. Every of the ticky-box-thingies describes concepts as well. A remix of an album is a new concept, playing an album live as well. Album entities only cover different release entities that are very close to the same concept. So what a release entity should contain is the release status attribute. And the contained media store the physical media attribute. Counter examples? --Shepard
    • Depends on the definition of "concept", but I can give some examples: Depeche Mode Songs of Fait and Devotion and the live version. Both share the same tracklist and had been released in the same context. The live version is not a live album in the classical sense, but a collection and recombination of live performances of the tracks. IMO both share the same concept. Imagine an album release, that came with a normal and a special edition. The latter includes a bonus disc with remixes. Would you set "album" and "remix" as main type of the [[[Object Model/Album Object|ObjectModel/AlbumObject]] AlbumObject]? Or a simple box set release with different types of the included records.--Fuchs # is discussable. # Setting it for the release object does not fit either as the contained main disc is not a remix. ;) But I see the problem, a ticky-type (lol) 'bonus' could not be set, too - this would belong to the medium object. # A box set has its own album object (what else?). So no problem here. --Shepard


What constitutes a Remix? At the moment, I use it for different AR types (Remix, DJ-Mix). If Remix is a Release Status, so should DJ-Mix be. Possibly others. --Zout

  • That's a good question, and it opens up a can of worms. should 'remix' even *be* a release status? what do we mean with 'remix' here? and so on and so forth. basically it boils down to "can we say that a DJ-mix-cd is a 'remix-status'?" as I don't know much about dj-mix I can't answer this question. what (roughly) is the differences? ~mo
    • A remix produces other versions of songs. A DJ-mix only slightly changes the songs by adjusting their tempo (pitching I think that is) and fading them together and such things. I think most albums of status remix could actually also be compilations. Only the rare cases where someone takes a whole normal studio album and remixes all of the songs could not be set to status compilation. So I think: DJ-mixes could just be put under compilations. Remixes are more complicated. --Shepard
      • Do we need Remix here? Do things that can be represented as Artist<->Album ARs be a release type? --Zout
        • I'm starting to think we should delete 'remix' altogether. I don't know what it is.. it's a status of the track, not an album, more often than not. ~mo
          • No, I don't think so, because exactly the same applies for live: Anywhere but Home is all live but the last track. Of course at some point where there are non-live-tracks on the album you have to put (live) behind the titles of the rest. But when we allow multiple attributes you can still say: this is a live EP, that is a remix compilation or whatever because those attributes apply for most of the tracks. Yes even for compilations: what if tracks 1-9 are previously released and track 10 was not released before? Is it not a compilation any more then? --Shepard
        I have to disagree :) I'd really like to put DJ-Mixes under "DJ-Mix", not under "Compilations". --LukasLalinsky
    I don't know, if we need remix or dj-mix or whatever. But there has to be a way to put remixed records in a category like live albums and normal compilations (we wanted to get rid of the "compilation" thingy anyway). If I take a look at artists like Depeche Mode, there are tons of remix albums that should clutter the other categories. --Fuchs "DJ-mix" would be an excellent addition, IMO, as these are very common and "Remix" isn't an adequate definition for albums like this. I would argue that "Remix" is a track type, since it is relatively rare for a release to be entirely composed of remixes (although bonus discs of remixes are occasionally supplied with official releases). Indeed, in most cases the albums containing remixes are compilations of previously released material. --artysmokes


I think Spokenword needs an extra sub type "Radio play". At the moment many actual radio plays are stored as Audiobooks in the db - this is wrong. And audiobook is just a book read by one person. A radio play is an audio play with many different characters and background sounds and stuff. At the moment we can store this as Spokenword but that is not exact enough I think. --Shepard

I very strongly support "Radio Play" as a subtype - it's pretty much the entire category I tried to encompass in the OTR style proposal a while back. Only note would be on the name. "Radio Play" was accurate until the early-1980's, but since then, tape and CD-only plays (Dr Who, etc) and web-plays (The Open Theater of the Mind, etc.) also have proliferated. Perhaps "Audio Play" would perhaps be a better title? -- BrianSchweitzer 10:57, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

Single / EP

This is from a brief discussion on the mb-users list that I just wanted to revive here - feel free to delete if this is the wrong place for this. In brief I was arguing that I think the top level distinction between releases should be limited to albums and singles - an EP would then become a subcategory like compilation etc. It seems odd to have a category for this release. For example (these examples were sent over the mailing list) the following MB entries are currently marked as EPs but to all intents and purposes they are singles:

Certainly the former would have charted in the UK singles chart (albeit the indie singles chart at the time). Is there a significant difference between an EP and a single (beyond the inclusion of the letters EP in the title)?

  • Traditionally, a single (the term tells this, too) is a release related to one track (the A-side) and can include an optional B-side (which is a different song) and/or different versions of the A-side track. An EP (sometimes called mini album) was everything that is not an album and exceeds a certain length (traditionally longer than what fits on a 7" single) or has versions of more than 2 different songs. Those definitions evolved mainly because the chart rules (especially in the UK) changed every now and then. There are no EP charts, so sometimes EPs were counted as singles. Both of your examples wouldn't be listed in the UK single charts if they were released today. Other parts of Europe adopted the UK release schema, in the US singles are far less important. --Fuchs
    • Whilst I agree that historically there may have been a difference in the past (when there used to be an EP chart it seems) I am not entirely convinced that there is such a difference today, and since MB is largely focused on the now I just found it a bit odd that EPs are given a special category when most of them seem to be singles with the word EP in the title. For instance the former example I gave above did indeed chart in the singles chart (although at number 101 it seems). It's difficult to find examples as most of the bands I like don't seem to get in the singles chart or don't release EPs. But all the following MB EPs were placed in the UK singles chart when released so the distinction between EP and single is hazy at best: * http://musicbrainz.org/album/de5e14da-8f2c-4c31-ad5f-6804ca3c7a09.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/7da78eed-1370-48f7-a1dc-ecd782bc5ef3.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/a7701200-c6a8-4b84-9d15-da852af7e007.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/b81e246b-fac9-445f-a49a-5e1c03a3373f.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/664fc6fa-ea49-4133-b8bb-3f46d85e0228.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/17b3c81e-90ba-4937-9dcf-0e6cf6447cd8.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/ef2c4f13-477d-4658-8ea8-c64ff20b692b.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/314d934f-d53e-4997-b7a3-10ae0850c65a.html * http://musicbrainz.org/album/b44ba6dc-6789-488f-bc65-44d52fd4785f.html So are these just examples of bad categorisation?
      • Just took a look at the Kate Bush and the Beatles example, and both are categorized as EP on wikipedia. And both wouldn't show up in single charts if they were released today. --Fuchs EPs are largely a thematic choice now release categorisation isn't limited so much by the sound carrier (ie vinyl). however the distinction certainly in existence today - pretty much any 'rock' artist today will have 1 EP release to their name, for example. for a more verbose explanation, read my contributions to http://www.discogs.com/forums/topic?topic_id=86968 --Gecks
        • Fair enough - I'm not convinced though. It seems to me that something that's called an EP is clearly an EP but is often considered a single or an album. For example: http://musicbrainz.org/album/117cc2ee-4eba-4f28-90cb-91121ca747bf.html http://musicbrainz.org/album/9684a208-1d83-489c-89f0-b23925317c6d.html Both marked as EPs in MB. The first is to all intents and purposes a single - you would have bought it from the single section in the record shop and it charted in the UK singles chart at the time. The second is an EP despite having nothing on the cover to indicate this - I would have said this was an album given that it seemed to have spawned two singles (I don't know the band so I might be wrong) and was certified Gold by the RIAA (which I believe is given over to albums). Whilst it seems clear that EP should be a category in MB I am less convinced of the distinction between a single and an EP, and EP and a mini-LP and a mini-LP and an album. Even if you disagree I think some effort needs to go into a crisp clear description of what an EP is - the one listed on the ReleaseTypeRestructuringProposal is at best totally vague.
          • both examples are called EPs by the artist(s) involved (perhaps not on the CD itself - see official websites, discographies, interviews, etc). like i said, it's a thematic choice so an artists decision to call it such may not have any logic if you look at the tracklist on its own, which is also why it's impossible to write "a crisp clear description of what an EP is". PS, EPs and 'mini-LPs' are synonymous as far as I can tell. --Gecks
            • Okay so we can't define what it is it just is but I've still got the problem that I've now got this third confounding category and I want to categorise Radiohead's Drill "EP". Now I know that it was a single but it has the word EP on the cover and on an official website so I'll call it an EP. And then at some point in the future, as part of MBs quest to the font of all musical knowledge we decide to add chart positions to singles and albums, or something like that. Now that data is going to be incomplete because we're unable to do anything with EPs because they might not have been eligible for the charts, or they might have been eligible for the singles chart or they might have eligible for the album charts and so we can't really deal with this properly.
              • "Trade magazine Record Retailer launched a Top 50 singles chart on 10 March 1960. Its sample was only 30 shops to begin with, growing to 40 by March 1962, 60 by March 1963 and 80 by 1969. This was the only major singles chart to exclude EPs, which had their own separate chart until 30 November 1967. EPs were allowed into the main singles chart from that point on, just in time for The Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour to enjoy a chart run which peaked at number two." see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Singles_Chart --Gecks
              My problem here is that we have overlap on our top level categories and isn't this the reason we're allowing something to be a "live" album or a "live" single, can we not also allow something to be an "ep" album or an "ep" single, or does it not make sense to do this? And to fan the flames further: a mini LP is certainly not the same as an EP; if an EP is an extended single then a mini-LP is a cut-down album but I don't think they meet in the middle - thus we'll need four top-level categories now.....BrotherLogic
              • EP = extended play, not extended single - they don't necessarily have a 'lead track' - in fact they rarely do, in my experience. I've always considered the two to be synonymous and will continue to do so until proved otherwise :) --Gecks Please read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ep, anything is explained there and this discussion is getting a bit to long for the wiki. If you need more opinions, you better ask on the mailinglists. --Fuchs


Currently Live refers to anything 'Recorded Live' , niavely I assumed it referred to when a track was played live to an audience for the primary purpose of entertaining the audience but currently it also applies to when tracks are played live on radio as 'Sessions' , where there is no/limited audience and the main purpose is record variations of songs, which if they any good wil probably be released as a session. A good example of this are John Peel Sessions, which are usually marked as live but most people wouldn't consider them as live albums. So could we add a 'Session' type. There is also a conflict with E.P because many of these sessions are E.Ps, so I would second the need to allow multiple types to be selected. --ijabz

General Concerns

I think the proposed is even worse than it is now; the entries cover too many areas. We're adding physical medium but we still have Single, EP, Bonus, Demo etc. which closely correspond to the physical medium in the same section as Live, Soundtrack, Remix, etc. which correspond to content. Moreover, the content descriptors should be one-to-many. There are certainly releases that are Live Compilations, Remix Soundtracks or Classical Remix Compilations. I don't think Classical belongs here anyway, it's a Genre which should be captured elsewhere. -- WolfSong 12:10, 03 March 2006 (UTC)

Controversial or Where to put it?


Lastly, I would like to suggest that in addition to

  • Official
  • Commercial (which is a great idea), and
  • Bootleg

there also be a category for

  • Broadcast

This would include anything taken from FM/XM, TV, Cable, or PPV. These should not necessarily be categorized as "Bootleg" There is a difference, and it is well worth the distinction. When "Robert Plant on David Letterman" surfaces on mp3, or "Take a Load Off Annie, by The Band on SNL" there would be a good place to catalog them, and still keep them separate from the Official releases.--Chuck__Carmody

  • But this'd belong under the Main Types, not under the Release Status. And also it's very equal to Live. A broadcast differs from other types, yes, but only as long as you have the view on how music is brought to you. Yet musicbrainz only focusses on how music is recorded and stored. So broadcast cuts can be everything from web album/bootleg/live to cd/official/interview. --Shepard
    • There is no way any Official CD or bootleg show could be considered a Broadcast. A broadcast is a live or tape-delayed performance meant to be consumed in real time by the audience. A bootleg recording is different, as is anything already released on disc. Simply playing albums over the air would not qualify. A good example of a Broadcast "set" would be Paul McCartney at the Super Bowl last year. That was a distribution method not meant for posterity initially, but for immediate consumption over broadcast airwaves. They would not necessarliy have to be airwaves, cable/ppv/onDemand would qualify, but the point being it was neither "Official" "Bootleg" "Promotional" etc... It was its own means of distribution and authentication. I think a lot of people have trouble separating the music from the packaging it comes in, and even though it would be challenging, I would hope MB would be open to the idea that music can be distributed in ways other than glass and plastic.
      • No, sorry, you didn't understand what I was saying (or did you even read it?). Of course a broadcast is different. It is a different way of distribution. But! As long as it is not recorded we don't care about it! There is no sense in saying "at date XXX the band Y made a broadcast stream on radio Z performing the songs A, B, C" and storing that data in MB because it is not of any use for people out there - the same as for concert - it's a one-time-event. But if someone starts recording this and distributes it, then you can say "here we have the recordings of this and can store it with the track times" - and the important thing is that you can hear it over and over again. A different thing is of course if the broadcast is not one-time but permanent. If for example you have a site that distributes albums of several artists only as live streams. But in this case this would go in the category "Digital Media" in mo's proposal (or in a subcategory stream if you want one). --Shepard
        • OK, you're right, I don't think I understand your point of view yet, but here is mine in a nutshell. If I record something that is broadcast, then I have a recording. I definitely don't mean the broadcast as the medium, like CD, Album, StreamingAudio. That's not what I mean. I just meant if I get McCartney's halftime show to tag, it doesn't fall under any category neatly (Official? Bootleg? Promo?), and it would allow for tagging of music ripped from artists' performances on TV shows and the like, that's all I meant.
          • If one rips it, does a nice cover for it and stuff and distributes it either over net or on CD-R it's a bootleg. All things less "official" than that we don't care about. Just for the reasons mo said: everyone can rip it like he wants, so you get differences in track times, track titles and even the audio data. MusicBrainz is a database for music data that is distributed to many people. Do what you want with your personal rips. If you get rips from the net, then live with whatever titling is used or if it classifies as a bootleg, add it. --Shepard
    As for the "broadcast" idea, I guess it would be exactly what you are suggesting. I only mean it to cover "releases" that are not on physical media. I guess your Simpsons example hits that right on the head, and if that's already been considered, then I don't really have anything new about that. It just seems like there should be a way to catalog that music, whether or not any two rips are identical.

IMO, anything recorded off of TV or Radio falls under bootleg. and should be titled as such where the date is the date of the performance. "197Y-MM-DD: Saturday Night Live, Studio 8H, New York, New York, USA" It's a recording of a performance. The source happens to be television. McCartney's halftime show easily falls under bootleg. Lack of cover art does not make something not be a bootleg. Recordings of live streams also should go under bootleg, again dated with the date of the performance. see www.etree.org or db.etree.org for more information and examples of broadcast bootlegs. over-organization is not always a good thing --BrianG (by the way "Take a Load Off Annie" is actually called "The Weight" isn't it? and I don't think The Band even played it on SNL, Robbie Robertson & Bruce Hornsby performed it on SNL though in 1992)

Multi Disc Set

One thing people have been saying is that there should be a logical section for multi-disc packages, presumably so that they don't get split all over creation. --ChuckCarmody

Old status comments

Attention.png Status: one of the very interesting proposals lying around. Probably (at least) parts of it may be implemented for a relatively low development cost (ReleaseFormat enhancements?). While this proposal is not "exactly" stalled (it has been regularly worked on during the past years), for now it lacks promotion efforts and needs refreshed edits to be made fruitful. -- dmppanda 15:19, 20 February 2008 (UTC) -- mo 22:05, 27 July 2008 (UTC)

Attention.png Updated Status: Coming back to the forefront with the DVD-Audio, Blu-ray, HD-DVD, and related discussions of late. Attention to the server code may end up happening, so as to finally allow pretty much this exact proposal to be supported by the server and the web services. Updating this proposal to fill in missing specific types, and to update per the recent DVD-handling discussions on users and style is still needed here. -- BrianSchweitzer 04:04, 23 December 2008 (UTC)