History:What Defines A Unique Release History

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Status: This Page is Glorious History!

The content of this page either is bit-rotted, or has lost its reason to exist due to some new features having been implemented in MusicBrainz, or maybe just described something that never made it in (or made it in a different way), or possibly is meant to store information and memories about our Glorious Past. We still keep this page to honor the brave editors who, during the prehistoric times (prehistoric for you, newcomer!), struggled hard to build a better present and dreamed of an even better future. We also keep it for archival purposes because possibly it still contains crazy thoughts and ideas that may be reused someday. If you're not into looking at either the past or the future, you should just disregard entirely this page content and look for an up to date documentation page elsewhere.

Attention.png This is the old version of WhatDefinesAUniqueRelease. Right now it's kept for archival purpose (though it's also accessible through the main page informations). It may be shortened or possibly deleted once reviewed. -- dmppanda 15:50, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Status: This page is part of the set of MusicBrainzPhilosophy pages, which discuss the rationale behind metaphysical decisions/suggestions in regards to MusicBrainz data.

New Release, or Variant of Another Release?

When does a work actually become a "separate record" from MusicBrainz point of view? This is a very complex issue which relates to some of the other aspects above. MusicBrainz has been widely hailed for its GUID approach to identifying music, but what does this exactly mean? Does the identifier refer to a specific version/mix of a work, to specific printed concept of it or just to a generic song? To what degree is it reasonable to guarantee/expect this to hold?

If a release is re-released with modified track titles but otherwise same content, is a new identifiable work created? This would make things like linking to merchandise databases easy.

If a release is re-mastered with everything else staying the same (Ie. remove tape hiss, normalize volume etc.) is a new work created from MusicBrainz point of view? This might be desirable if you're interested in finding the specific high-quality version.

If a track is cut by taking out some ending or outro, is a new MusicBrainz identifiable track created? Collectors and fans might be very interested in tracking these alternate versions.

If a track is re-performed and recorded with basically same setup and sounding roughly the same, is a new work created? People who're just interested in having the same experience/listening to the specific track (Ie. the average music listener) might find a system where these have the same identifier most convenient.

I believe presently MusicBrainz creates a new unique identifier for each instance of the same track on different releases by necessity, and the track title is not sufficient to link tracks between releases. This is suggestive of a policy where very small changes create a new work; but on the opposite end of the spectrum merging releases is often encouraged when releases have either same track lengths and number or same titles. This approach may lead to re-recorded tracks having effectively same identifiers.


  • Very interesting. This, along with the concepts of VirtualDuplicateRelease, essentially describes the exact argument I've tried to make in Nirvana recently, as I tried to explain why a bootleg soundboard recording of a concert remastered in 2004 ought not to be merged in with a pressed cd bootleg sourced from a audience recording and published in 1994, just because the tracklists match. -- BrianSchweitzer 16:21, 23 May 2007 (UTC)

Case in point: Consider these three EMI releases of Beethoven's "Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 (Philharmonia Orchestra feat. conductor: Carlo Maria Giulini, violin: Itzhak Perlman)". Amazon.co.uk has three different ASIN numbers related to it: B000002RX3, B000002RMI, and B000024396. One appears to certainly be a reissue of another. The first two have different but similar cover pictures. The above doesn't give me clear guidance on whether they should be one Release or three. Just now, an editor related all three ASINs to a single MB Release. I don't know whether I agree with this or not. I do know that if these are three releases, they are very similar, and there should be an easy way to propagate AdvancedRelationships and data from one to another -- something like "Save a Copy As...". Otherwise editors will treat them as one Release to cut down on data entry work. JimDeLaHunt

  • This was me, and my reasoning was that the CD release that I own (the one dated 1981) is the original release of the performance. I had to decide whether to add my DiscID 20965 to the existing release or to create a new release which would have had exactly the same contextual information but track lengths which were a couple of seconds different. I couldn't tell for sure from the existing information whether the first 14899 belonged to a later version which was simply reissued or one which was remastered and reissued - both exist. Either way, we're in the land of tiny differences between releases of the exact same original performance and recording. This is not like the Nirvana bootleg example above. But I'm new here, and happy to take advice from the experts. (monxton) 16:09, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

Authors: --MatthewExon