User:Jacobbrett/Release Event Style

From MusicBrainz Wiki
Status: This is a Proposed Style Guideline that should supersede Release Country Style.

A Release Event is the event when a Release is first sold on a market. A Release Event consists of a Date, Country, Label, Catalog #, Barcode, and Format field. Each of these fields are optional, though the more complete a release event is, the better. Please note that some independent/unsigned releases may not have a barcode, catalogue number or label.

A standard release event looks like the following:

Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta

Date Country Label Catalog # Barcode Format
2005-02-28 Australia Universal Records 2103977 075021039773 CD

Release Date

The Release Date describes the day on which the release was first sold in stores. This is not necessarily the production year (that one which you find on the sleeve as (p) 1979). It can consist of a year only (1980), a month and a year (1980-03), or a specific day (1980-03-20).

Release Country

The Release Country describes the country where the release hit the stores on that specific Release Date. It is not the country where the release was produced. The country is optional (you can set it to "unknown country").


The Label is either the firm who distributes the release in a certain region, or the rights holder.

Release Catalog Number

The Release Catalog Number is the label's identification number of a certain release event.


The Barcode is a machine-readable ID system used by retailers to easily identify and keep stock of items. It is usually an EAN or UPC number found on the back of a CD.

Release Format

The Release Format is a descriptor of the release's medium. Common examples include "CD", and "Vinyl" (currently used for all vinyl sizes).

Identifying Release Details

Via CD liner

Most CDs released by commercial labels will have some identifiable information on various parts of the cover and liner notes.

  • The barcode is usually found on the back cover.
  • The catalogue number is usually found on the back cover and spine of the case.
  • Identifying the release country may be confirmed by copyright remarks such as "Marketed in Australia by Universal Music Australia under exclusive licence." The two previous bolded instances are likely give-aways of the release country.
  • The label is usually identifiable on the back cover and spine. If there are two or more labels present, use the label that corresponds to the catalogue number (for example CDCBS 66012 is obviously a catalogue number of CBS Records). This may be tricky if it is simply a string of numbers, it may help to lookup the release on both label websites for further clue.

Via label or discography websites

  • Official label websites may contain varying amounts of release event data depending on the website, and are considered a reliable source.
  • Discography websites, such as Discogs, or even fan-sites that attempt to list details on every release by an artist are useful in checking data consistency.

Via barcode

The release details may additionally be identified by looking up the release's EAN/UPC barcode via a search engine, finding a release of matching EAN on an Amazon domain, or using Luks' EAN/UPC barcode checker (this last method is not always accurate, eg Frances the Mute uses the same barcode for the Australian, Canadian and European release, which comes up as "U.S. and Canada" in the barcode checker).

  • This is usually an effective method of finding the release date for a particular release.

Details of the Release Country

The list of countries you can choose from is taken from ISO 3166, which is a widely-used standard list of countries. Please do not use the release country to describe the country in which the release was produced, or from which the artist originates. For each country in which the release was issued, add a new release date, alongside the name of the country.

Composite Release Areas

Not all record distributors stick to national boundaries when they define the regions in which they issue a release. Releases are often issued in more than one country at the same time. For example, some releases state that they are distributed in "Australasia" (presumably Australia and New Zealand) or the "Benelux" (Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg). In these cases it is OK to add one release, and simply choose one of the countries to represent the entire release area:

  • Choose the Artist's country of origin. Shihad is a New Zealand band; if they release a release in Australasia, define the ReleaseCountry as New Zealand.
  • Where this information is unknown or ambiguous, choose the country with the largest sales.

Fuzzy Release Areas

MusicBrainz also has some fuzzy release areas:

Unknown Country
To be used when you do not know the release country, but can add other information about the release event.
"Worldwide" is generally used for a release that has been released online on a certain date, available to the worldwide online population.
  • It should not be used for releases through services such as iTunes and Napster, as they usually have multiple release dates on their online store which are country-dependant (usually corresponding with retail release dates).
  • It should also be used where a global distributor does release in most of the world on the same date (which is extremely rare).
Trade within the European Union is so open that it can be really difficult to figure out in which European country a release was released.
  • If a release cannot be pin-pointed to a particular country, use "Europe".
  • "Europe" may be used if a release is released in a large proportion of the EU countries on the same date.
  • Note that an album might, for example, have one release in the UK, followed by a second wider release that covers the whole of the EU, including the UK.
Do not use this simply because it says "Produced in the EU" on your CD!

Historical Countries

Historical countries (countries that may exist on the back of a release, but do not exist anymore) such as "Yugoslavia (historical, 1918-2003)" are also contained within the Release Country list.