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Advanced Relationships is a way to represent all the "miscellaneous" relationships between Artists, Releases and Tracks that are stored in the MusicBrainz Database. 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 How To Make Relationships.

Advanced Relationship Types

Each relationship entered by a user belongs to one Advanced Relationship Type. These types define:

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

For example, the relationship type "Performer Relationship Type" 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 Performer Relationship Type allows an optional attribute to specify the instrument he played (Instrument Relationship Attribute), 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 Advanced Relationship Types 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 Advanced Relationship Types is limited to selected users, called Relationship Editors. 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 MusicBrainz Database.

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

Artist Role Inheritance

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.

  1. If the relationship is applicable to all tracks on a release, put it on all the tracks, rather than on the release.
  2. If the relationship is not applicable to all tracks, and you know which ones it applies to, put it on only those tracks.
  3. If the relationship is not applicable to all tracks, and you don't know which ones it applies to, put it at release level. A basic effort to determine to which tracks the relationship is applicable is appreciated, however.
  4. If the credit is release level, and does not apply on a track by track basis (e.g., graphic design for the album's cover), then apply the relationship to the release, not the tracks.

Note: There are still releases that do only have release level advanced relationships, predating the discussions as to where Advanced Relationships should be attached. These still need to be corrected. If you find a release with such release level Advanced Relationships that can be moved to the tracks, please fix them.