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< Artist
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Types of Artist

An "artist" is one of the fundamental data types of MusicBrainz. This is usually either a person or a band. Artists are the people responsible for creating music. Every album has one primary artist considered to be the most important author of the album. They are also used in many different AdvancedRelationships, and in that context they can fulfill all kinds of roles, from producers, publishers, lyricists, conductors, and many more.

To distinguish the different kinds of artist, there are different types available. The type of an artist can be modified by clicking the "Edit artist" link in the artist box.

  • Person:
  • This indicates an individual person. Note however that there may be several different artist records for the same person, representing different ArtistNames.
  • Group:
  • This indicates a group of people that have a distinctive name. The members of a group are indicated with the MemberOfBandRelationshipType. A group might also be used to indicate a company, such as MCA Music Ltd.

There are also a few SpecialArtists, for example "Various Artists" used on compilations, and "[unknown]" used in some situations where no artist makes sense.

Finally, there is ArtistAlias, which is not a type of artist, but a completely different entity.


The introduction of PublisherRelationshipType implies the existence of a new artist type, which should probably called "Company". This could be handled by the existing "Group" artist type, but I'd suggest that a new type be created. Other types might be created in future, such as "Label". It's also worth considering formalising the difference between LegalName and PerformanceName this way: which is discussed further on MusicalAssociationRelationshipClass, here, and here.