History:Linking Different Artist Names Proposal
Proposal for Legal / Performance Name handling
This is an AdvancedRelationshipTypeProposal for a revamped set of AdvancedRelationships for dealing with ArtistNames. It comes from the discussions that have happened on MusicalAssociationRelationshipClass.
Current Relationship Types
Problems with the current Relationship Types
It's not possible to represent multiple legal names in the system (for example maiden names, Walter/Wendy Carlos), except by the rather inaccurate method of calling later legal names "performance names" of the birth name.
You also can't easily find out what is the legal name of, say, Madonna, at the time of release of a particular album.
To answer the question "who is person X, really?", we will concentrate on the LegalName. A "legal name" is the name that the artist uses in official documents such as passports. An artist can change their legal name, but we'll assume that they only ever have one at a time (note: this might not be true for, for example, ex-pat Chinese artists).
In line with the DontMakeRelationshipClusters policy, each legal name will be related to the very first legal name, using a new "Is the birth name of" relationship.
Another option would be to use a "changed their name to" relationship instead of "is the birth name of". This might seem more natural. The disadvantage is that it's more complicated and time-consuming to accumulate a list of all the legal names (you can't do a simple SQL join).
It would be possible to add more specific relationship types, such as "Is the maiden name of". However, that would confuse the issue. For example, say a person is born "Susan Dingbat". During her twenties, Susan changes her name to "Susan Smith". Then she marries Carl Jones to become "Susan Jones". In that case, "Susan Smith" is the maiden name of "Susan Jones". In order to find out the birth name of "Susan Jones", you have to find all the birth names of all the maiden names of "Susan Jones"; two levels of indirection. To simplify this, if "is the maiden name of" ever gets added, I think this should be in addition to the "is the birth name of": that is, both relationships should be recorded for "Susan Smith".
Performance names would then represent a whole different sequence running in parallel to the legal name sequence. Each performance name would link, via a "is a performance name of" relationship, to the corresponding legal name.
We would not link performance names to the birth names, but to the legal name in force at the time. The reason for this is that the sentence "Susie Smith is a performance name of Susan Dingbat" is simply wrong, if her name at the time was actually "Susan Smith". It would still be possible to display the correct sentence, by retrieving the list of all legal names from the birth name, and then finding the legal name that corresponds to the time period of the performance name. But this is clearly a complicated and bug-prone procedure, and unlikely to ever be implemented. Linking performance names to legal names is much cleaner.
The big problem with this is what happens when a performance name overlaps with several legal names. There are two options here: either allow more than one "is a performance name of" relationship; or create multiple performance name artists, one for each period. Both of these are shown in the diagrams below, assuming that Susan Smith releases material under the stage names "Susie Smith" and later just "Susie":
Where to place albums
With the above system in place, you would be free to record albums under whichever artist the album gives credit to. So Susan Smith might release albums under all four of the names given above: "Susan Dingbat", "Susan Smith", "Susie Smith" and "Susie". That is, albums can be associated to both legal names and performance names. In the simplest case, where an artist releases albums under their legal name, then there is no need to much around with any of this stuff.
In the above example, "Susie Smith" is given as an alias for "Susan Smith". "Susie" is a pretty common nickname for "Susan", so there's really no need to get picky about things. The legal names could just as easily all use "Susie" instead of "Susan", and this should be the recommended way of entering artist names. Only where the legal name is completely different from the performance name (such as Elton John or Bono) should there be separate entries.
Splitting the artist names would also be justified where the artist releases material under both names. For example, Björk usually releases material just as "Björk" (in accordance with usual practice for Icelandic names), so in this case it would be usual to use that as her legal name. However, she has released at least one album where she's credited as "Björk Guðmundsdóttir". In this case then, her legal name should be set as "Björk Guðmundsdóttir" and "Björk" be given as a performance name.
Wow, first, thank you for this proposal. It looks to me like a good description of the problem, the discussion around it and one possible solution.
The relationships you propose are relatively intuitive. Names are either legal or performance. However, it seems to me that this is one more case in which AdvancedRelationships turn MusicBrainz from a searchable database into a klick-through set of webpages. The proposal is good but in your scenario one might have to follow quite a few AR links until one finds a certain album. IMO MusicBrainz should work like Google: Enter a name and here are the results, and not like a wiki: Klick yourself through seven links before you find what you were looking for.
What about this (Just an idea): Could perhaps a wise use of ArtistAliases remedy this problem? What about adding the origninal birth name as an alias to all artists. One could even add all other names as aliases to all artists. That way when searching for any name Susan Dingbat ever had or used would list all names she ever had or used. Does this make sense? --DonRedman