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Advanced Relationships Documentation

Status: This page is work in progress


Advanced Relationships is a way to represent all the "miscellaneous" relationships between Artists, Albums and Tracks that are stored in the MusicBrainzDatabase. For example:

All of this information is stored in a single table in the database, and there is a single user interface for adding new information. In this way, MusicBrainz has a fairly simple way to deal with extremely complicated data.

Getting Started

There is a tutorial at AdvancedRelationshipTutorial.

Advanced Relationship Types

Each relationship entered by a user belongs to one AdvancedRelationshipType. These types define:

  • Which entities will be related (artists, albums, tracks, etc)
  • What AdvancedRelationshipAttributes go along with the relationship
  • The LinkPhrases of the relationships, which describe how to write the relationship information in English sentences.

For example, the advanced relationship type "PerformerRelationshipType" can be used to link an artist (for example, Eric Clapton) to a track on which they performed (for example, Runaway Train). The definition of PerformerRelationshipType allows an optional attribute to specify the instrument he played (InstrumentRelationshipAttribute), so you can say if he played guitar. The definition also says how to construct an English sentence out of this data, so that the website can display the words "Runaway Train was performed by Eric Clapton".

These AdvancedRelationshipTypes are themselves simply entries in another database table. This means that new ones can be defined, old ones deleted, and existing ones modified through a relatively simple user-interface which does not require hacking the database internals. Since this data is much more important than any other individual entries, editing of AdvancedRelationshipTypes is limited to selected users, called RelationshipEditors. There are more relationship editors than developers, and the process of adding a new relationship type is much simpler than adding a new database table, so this is a very fast way to expand and improve the MusicBrainzDatabase.

A list of all of the relationship types defined so far is kept at AdvancedRelationshipTypes. That page also links to documentation for each individual type.


There are now multiple levels at which an artist's role on a song can be recorded: you can relate the artist to the song, to the album, or to the band that recorded the song. So it's now non-trivial to figure out the full list of people who should be credited for any given track. The page ArtistRoleInheritance goes into the implications of this in some depth.