The ReleaseDate is the date in which a release was made available through some sort of distribution mechanism. For example, this may be via a retail store, being published as a free download on a website or distributed to industry insiders (in the case of promotional releases) amongst other mechanisms.
What a Release Date is not
- A copyright date: A release date is NOT the same as a copyright date off a disc liner or vinyl cover. It can be a useful indication for releases from obscure sources; however in the general case it is not correct. Often a copyright date can precede the year of release, if the actual release was in January. Often re-releases/re-issues will carry the copyright date of the original release rather than the year they were re-issued.
- A performance date: In the case of live performance bootlegs, the ReleaseDate is a different concept to the performance date. The concert may have occurred on 2007-08-03, but it may have taken some time for the bootleg to be produced, tracks split and packaged for CD (or other ReleaseFormat) release. See LiveBootlegStyle for an attempt to structure the capture of this information with the current MusicBrainz database structure.
Differences between countries
The ReleaseDate of the same release in different countries may differ by several days or several weeks. For example, typically CD releases from mainstream distributors and released on different days of the week in different countries, e.g. (non-exhaustive, and not a general rule)
|UK/Ireland Downloads (some labels)||Sunday|
|UK, Europe, Australia & New Zealand||Monday|
|Germany||Friday (was Monday before summer 2005)|
Sources for release dates
Since a copyright date is not a reliable source (only an indicative source), the release date will usually need to be sourced online. Possible sources include
- online retail stores
- label sites
- official artist discographies
- other online music databases (Discogs, Wikipedia etc)
All sources have varying degrees of reliability, differing by type of music, format of release and age of release. To be sure you may often need to cross-reference between several stores or sources. Note that many sources will not distinguish between countries reliably so one should be careful that the ReleaseDate one chooses matches the ReleaseCountry set.
Note that on Amazon, 1990-10-25 is reported to be a bogus release date (representing when Amazon first went into operation). If Amazon reports 1990-10-25 as a release date, don't enter it in MusicBrainz (the system will warn you of this).