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Revision as of 17:57, 15 March 2009 by Nikki (talk | contribs)



Labels are one of the most complicated and controversial part of the music industry, the main reason for that being the term itself is not clearly defined and refers to (at least) two overlapping concepts: imprints, and the companies that control them. Note, though, that for most (simple cases) labels, the imprint and the company controlling it have the same name.

What is a Label?

Labels in MusicBrainz refer mainly to imprints.

  • An imprint is (strictly, and nothing more than) a brand (and trademark) associated with the marketing of sound recordings (an imprint is not a company). An imprint may be marketed as a project, unit or division of the company that manages it. Imprints are the information you certainly want to add in the database and is the information available on sleeves in the form of a label logo (a.k.a. imprint). Imprints are labels, as one usually understand it. Specifically, you should favor using names as they are represented on the imprint, rather than using a company name (usually found in "copyright"/"produced" mentions).

To a lesser extent, a label entity may be created in the database to represent a record company.

  • A record company typically manages imprints, and coordinates the production / manufacturing / promotion / relations with artist / PR / distribution of sound recordings. Record companies may directly handle one or more of these aspects, or may sign contractual agreements with other companies to do the job. In some specific cases, you may want to create a label in the database to represent such a company name rather than an imprint: usually, such a move is required when labels went through complex merge/split operations and you need AdvancedRelationships to structure the imprints list and represent their history in a meaningful way. Please note, though, that there is no need to "de-duplicate" companies from imprints when their name are very close.

Lastly, we also store Music groups.

  • A music group is a financial holding, whose purpose is solely to control and manage other companies directly involved in the production of sound recordings. Like for Record companies, the use of Music groups is reserved for specific cases that you will likely not encounter unless you're doing some research intensive background work on structuring the labels list

Hence, MusicBrainz mostly keep track of imprints, and to a lesser extent, companies involved into either production or distribution, and music groups.

At that time, we don't keep track of companies involved in the other aspects of the music industry (PR, manufacturing, management, ...), and we don't get into too much financial details, or try to represent exactly the socio-economic organization of companies. There are three reasons for that:

  • such information are usually not available from sleeves
  • they are irrelevant to MusicBrainz goal (being a music database)
  • such a project would be extremely complicated and our current data model is not fit for it

Editing Overview

Each label has a number of properties stored directly in each label's record:

  • LabelID: the MusicBrainz UUID of the label (not editable)
  • LabelName: the name of the label
  • LabelSortName: the sortname of the label
  • LabelAlias: aliases
  • LabelCode: the code of the label (a.k.a. "LC")
  • LabelBeginDate: this is the creation date of the label entity (usually the date at which the imprint was first used, or the associated trademark was registered)
  • LabelEndDate: this is the date at which the label stopped existing
  • LabelComment: a field to distinguish between identically named labels, or labels with identical LabelCode
  • LabelAnnotation: general information about the label that may be of interest and doesn't fit in any other fields
  • LabelCountry: the country of origin of the label
  • LabelType: this field describes the "kind" of production of that label

Much other information can be represented using AdvancedRelationships. You may read about AdvancedRelationshipTypes for information on all kind of relationships, or more specifically check LabelRelationshipClass for label centric information.

Just like with artists, you can subscribe to a label. See LabelSubscription for more information.

You may additionally consult the LabelFAQ for some basic questions, HowToIdentifyLabels for concrete cases, and HowLabelsWork for details about how to perform basic editing.

More about labels

The design of the label system has been made bearing in mind one main requirement: having a release sleeve as only information source must be enough to perform all basic editing.

That being said, the label macrocosm is a very rich and complex world. Editors who want to go beyond basic editing and want to learn/document more can take a look at the LabelResource page or dig further into the LabelRelationshipClass.