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Revision as of 09:40, 16 April 2019 by Silentbird (talk | contribs) (Update to address MBS-7339)

Aliases are alternative names for all types of MusicBrainz entities. There is no limit on the number of aliases set for an entity. Aliases come in two types: name and search hint. For example, aliases for a work can either be a work name or a search hint. The only exception is artists, which have three alias types: artist name, legal name and search hint. Please see the artist guidelines on the difference between an artist name and a legal name. Search hints are mainly used for common misspellings, name variants with different encoding and other correct ways of displaying the entity's name.


For guidance on style, please see the guidelines for aliases.

When to use aliases

Using aliases is appropriate in many cases:

  1. Misspellings:
    These are the most common use cases. They function as a simplistic automatic spelling corrector and should be entered as a search hint.
    e.g. Led Zepplin = Led Zeppelin
  2. Variants:
    An entity may have several similar names used interchangeably and without making a distinction in different cases. These should be entered as an entry name, not as search hints.
    e.g. Hootie and the Blowfish = Hootie & the Blowfish; ESP = ESP-Disk’
  3. Numbers:
    Even if there is one preferred option (spelled out or with numerical form), an entity's name that includes numbers may or may not be spelled out by users. These should be entered as entity names.
    e.g. The 3 Tenors = The Three Tenors; Six Sonatas, op. 3 = 6 Sonatas, op. 3
  4. Stylized Names:
    Many artists feel a need to spell their names or the names of their songs with strange spacing, odd characters and punctuation, etc.
    e.g. NSync = 'N Sync
  5. Missing Titles:
    Titles, monikers and/or articles are usually added/dropped from entities' names
    e.g. The Sex Pistols = Sex Pistols; Tiësto = DJ Tiësto; End of the World = The End of the World
  6. Acronyms:
    Artists and labels with long and unwieldy names are often better known by their acronyms, which may be used on release covers
    e.g. B.D.P. = BDP = Boogie Down Productions; SME = Sony Music Entertainment
  7. Initials:
    Overlaps somewhat with acronyms, but there are sometimes middle initials not generally used in an artist's name
    e.g. J.S. Bach = Johann Sebastian Bach
  8. Lead Performers:
    Sting is a member of The Police - it is not a collaboration, and the band does not officially include his name in theirs, however compilations often list featured members explicitly by name in this way
    e.g. Sting & The Police = The Police
  9. Misencodings:
    Names entered in FreeDB using non-UTF-8 encodings; these are somewhat like typos, but in non-Unicode locales, these may in fact be more accurate than an automatic conversion from UTF-8
    e.g. ©PªN­Û­ = Jay Chou
  10. Localization:
    While English-speakers are used to "Tchaikovsky", that is not the composer's native name, and he is known elsewhere in the world by different spellings. This is also relatively common with labels and work names. In these cases, an alias locale should be added to indicate in which language the alias is.
    e.g. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (EN) and Piotr Ilitch Tchaïkovski (FR) = Пётр Ильич Чайковский; Music for Chamber Orchestra = Muusika kammerorkestrile
  11. Transliterations:
    There are often several ways to transliterate non-Roman characters according to different standards
    e.g. Jay Chow = Jay Chou
  12. "Translated" Names:
    Many Asian artists have "English" names in addition to their given "Chinese" or "Japanese" etc. names - in some cases, the artists prefer the English name even in non-English text
    e.g. Chou Jie Lun = Jay Chou
  13. Legal Changes:
    Artists are often forced to change their names for legal reasons, sometimes only in part of the world. In this last case, an alias locale should be added to indicate in which countries the alternate name is used.
    e.g. Yaz (EN-US) = Yazoo.

When not to use aliases

  1. Performance names:
    Performance names for an artist are sometimes entered separately in the database. See the relevant guideline for more information.
  2. Different imprints:
    Labels that change names, or different imprints by the same company (for example, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Classical), should be entered as separate labels.