Talk:Cover Relationship Type

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Link to which version?

There were three suggestions for StyleGuidelines for this relationship. The first was to only ever link to the very first released version. This is the policy used by the CoversProject.

The second possibility was to link each cover to those versions that have most influenced it - so most artists were influenced by Marvin Gaye's version of "I Heard it Through the Grapevine" rather than Gladys Knight's version, and so they should relate to the former not the latter.

(There was a third, somewhat radical proposal namely: covers that retain the same name as the original should be linked to the original artist e.g. Strawberry Fields by Candy Flip is a cover of a song by The Beatles)


Original suggestion:

"If you want to know who composed the track, you chase up the original version and find out who wrote that. It is generally inappropriate to give any kind of CompositionRelationshipClass credit except "arranged by" for a cover version. You certainly shouldn't give a "composed by" credit to the original composer, because that fact is already in the database, and duplication of data should be avoided if possible."

  • I do not necessarily agree with that last statement. IMO on the long run every track should have a composer credited. --DonRedman
    • Could you expand on that? Why do you think it's necessary to add so much information? Is it because there is information that can't be represented by my example, or is it for the extra convenience of being able to see who wrote a track without performing more lookups? Also, I'd make the point that in many cases, composers should be linked to albums, not tracks, to avoid unnecessary data duplication and make the database cleaner. --MatthewExon

Original Suggestion:

"When there are several different versions of the same song, every version should be linked only to the very first released version. It is true that some covers are actually covers of other covers, but this is a subjective thing, whereas deciding which is the first released version is much more clear cut, and easier to verify independently. For the same reason, we use the date of release, not the date when the song was first written or recorded. Again, release dates are far easier to objectively verify (they're generally printed on the album), as opposed to writing or recording dates."

  • Note that this uses the strict and objective definition of WhatIsACover by the CoversProject. I am not sure if there is already a consensus that this difinition should be that of MusicBrainz. --DonRedman
    • I tend to agree that what I originally suggested is overly strict. --MatthewExon
      • Example situation where this could be an issue: "Little Guitars: A Tribute to Van Halen" track 8 is "(Oh) Pretty Woman", originally done by Roy Orbison. Van Halen did a cover on their "Diver Down" album. And this track is intended to cover their version of it. The full album is marked as a VH tribute of course, but this particular track, would it be marked as a cover of Roy Orbison or Van Halen? Actually, got quite a few tracks like this (Ratt covers Aerosmith's version of "Walking the Dog", which was originally by Rufus Thomas. And so on). Just some examples to get an idea of problems to be faced before actually facing them --HairMetalAddict

What do we do when a famous band covers a traditional song? I'm thinking of Thin Lizzy's version of "Whiskey in the Jar" here. I'm sure that there are more traditionalist recordings floating around somewhere, but identifying which was the first released would be a real trial. This also wouldn't make much sense, since every version ever recorded is really a cover.


We should in any case distinguish between a cover version and a parody. For example, Enter Madman 1 & Enter Bluesman 2 (by Excrementory Grindfuckers) has exactly the same lyrics and almost the same meldoy as Enter Sandman by Metallica, but the way it is performed clearly makes it a parody. Therefore adding an AR saying it were a cover version would create a wrong impression of the song. --derGraph

  • It's based on someone else's song, melody and lyrics. How is that creating a wrong impression? --LarryGilbert

The CoversProject site seems a little moribund. I recently found Second Hand Songs who seem to have continued the idea. Although they only have indirect submissions through their forum. --Chiark