Simplification of the featured artist guideline

Hi everyone!

In the past couple years, we’ve steadily reduced the amount of standardisation we do, instead preferring to stick closer to the original release information (except for obvious errors) and let the end users do any standardisation as desired. The main rationale for this is that it’s generally easy to standardise automatically, but impossible to get the original information back: as such, standardisation is best done on demand over the original data. The last big step of this process is to simplify and soften the very restrictive featured artist guideline.

The guideline was originally written when we could only store one artist per track/release, as “add (feat. X, Y & Z) to the track title”. This allowed us to enter the featured artist information on the track title in a standard way in order to deal with it better in the future. And that worked fantastically: in fact, it allowed us to write a series of reports (for release groups, releases and recordings) that make it easier to find entities where the artists need to be moved to their rightful place in the artist field, now that we can!

When we started migrating the info to artist credits, we decided to basically keep the guideline as-is, but start adding the artists to the artist field. So we’d have “Song”, by “Artist feat. X, Y & Z”. This was a huge improvement, since the artists were now properly linked, but such strong standardisation was always a bit heavy handed, and at the same time quite restricted (since it only applied to variations on the word “featuring”, but not to any other linking phrase).

As such, we’ve decided to stop standardising credits using variations of “featuring” as well. The new version of the guideline can be found as part of the artist credit guidelines, and reads:

Featured artists should always be entered in the artist credit, not in the titles. You should generally enter the credit as it appears on the release, omitting any separators (like parentheses) that are intended to separate it from the track title. For example, if the tracklist has “Artist 1 – Song Name (featuring Artist 2)”, enter “Song Name”, by “Artist 1 featuring Artist 2”.

It also gives a few examples:

This decision was taken a few weeks ago, but to avoid disruption we waited until we had a Picard plugin available for anyone who still wants to standardise “featuring” in their own tags. That’s now available (thanks to Sambhav Kothari), so we feel it’s the time to make the change official. If you want to keep all variations of “featuring” as “feat.”, go ahead and install that plugin, and things should remain basically as they were!

One last note: I strongly encourage people not to vote against any edit moving featured artist information from the titles to the artist field, even if it doesn’t exactly follow the wording used on the cover. As always, any clear improvements like this one should be accepted, even if they’re not perfect, and the data can be improved further afterwards.

Style update, 2015-09-08

Hi everyone! Here we are with another very, very late style update for the last couple months.

Apart from quite a few smaller changes (full list below), we split the translator relationship so that it’s its own relationship rather than lyricist + attribute (so if any of you were using translator data at all you’ll want to change the way you query for it). Similarly, we got rid of the “transliterated” vs. “translated” difference for alternate tracklists: it often wasn’t clearly one or the other, and the information wasn’t particularly useful in any case without checking the language and script of the release, so now there’s only one relationship type without attributes.

We also demoted the “Do Not Cluster” guideline – while it’s a good thing to keep in mind when creating relationship types, it’s not really something users should be worrying about (and the cases where they might have to are already covered in the specific relationship documentation).

If anyone has any question about these or any other changes, feel free to ask in the comments! And if you want to propose other changes or additions, remember you can always do it from the STYLE section of our bug tracker.

Improvement

  • [STYLE-315] – Remove the option to add publisher relationships to recordings
  • [STYLE-474] – Introduce the option to add phono rights relationships to recordings

New Feature

  • [STYLE-481] – Add artist-release group “has dedication” relationship
  • [STYLE-505] – Add “written at” relationship between work and place/area
  • [STYLE-538] – “Arranged at” Place relationship
  • [STYLE-542] – Allow soundcloud/mixcloud etc. links on event series (festivals)
  • [STYLE-548] – Event – Release Group rel: Performed

Task

  • [STYLE-392] – Make “Do not cluster” more sensible
  • [STYLE-420] – Drop “transliterated” attribute from the “transliterated/translated tracklist” relationship type
  • [STYLE-435] – Split “Translator” into its own relationship
  • [STYLE-460] – Revisit the [dialogue] guideline for NGS
  • [STYLE-482] – Deprecate the release-URL samples IMDb entry relationship type
  • [STYLE-494] – Add dorian keys to the list of keys for works
  • [STYLE-520] – Clarify the soundtrack guidelines stance on VA usage
  • [STYLE-528] – Add Turkish Makam work attributes
  • [STYLE-539] – Specify that tribute albums are cover albums

Style update, 2015-06-02

Ok, so the “have a report every two weeks” thing didn’t work out very well lately. But things have been happening anyway, so here’s all that has happened in the last few months!

Guidelines for artists have been updated for what is and is not a different artist (since now relationships can also have credits) and for areas (main artist area is still somewhat fuzzy because it is a fuzzy concept, but at least there’s something now).

Also new (although most parts were just moved into it from existing guidelines where they didn’t really fit) are the guidelines for artist credits.

The English guidelines got cleaned up a bit, but without major changes (only the addition of a section on “O’Clock”).

The alias guidelines got updated to take into consideration the “primary for locale” option, and got a section for sort names (based on the old guidelines for label sort names, which were removed since labels themselves no longer have sort names).

Some indications on barcodes were added to the release guidelines.

The ability for work-work relationships (like “part of” and “version of”) to have dates was removed. Dates should be on the appropriate artist-work relationships, in most cases (like “arranger” and “translator”), and works which get new parts added / removed should be counted as different parent works to begin with.

“Different bootleg recordings of the same concert” was added to the list of things that should be in the same release group.

The guidelines mandating expanding abbreviations like “Vol.” and “Pt.” have been removed (the special exception of “feat.” has not changed). Titles should, in general, follow the release/track title. The only standardisation left is for series: see the series numbering guidelines.

Some basic work guidelines have been added, both for when to set a type and for when (and when not) to add a disambiguation comment.

Apart from that, a fair amount of relationships and release formats have been added and some sites whitelisted. See the full list below for details.

Bug

  • [STYLE-427] – Style/Artist hasn’t been updated for areas
  • [STYLE-524] – "Personal label" has the wrong cardinality

Improvement

  • [STYLE-149] – Update "Artists with multiple names"
  • [STYLE-203] – Add a "In homage to" relationship to works
  • [STYLE-228] – Allow grouping of multiple "identical" bootlegs w/ different titles
  • [STYLE-431] – Add "marketed by" release-label relationship
  • [STYLE-436] – Add castalbums.org to the Other Databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-447] – Add treble/boy soprano as a vocal type
  • [STYLE-453] – Add "Pathé disc" format
  • [STYLE-472] – Add operadis-opera-discography.org.uk to the Other Databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-487] – Remove honorary titles from artist names
  • [STYLE-492] – Add "printed in" release-area relationship
  • [STYLE-508] – Clarify the barcode field guideline when the scanned value differs from the numerical value
  • [STYLE-511] – Add SMDB to "Other Databases" whitelist
  • [STYLE-515] – Reorganise and clean up Style/English
  • [STYLE-522] – Create a basic Artist Credits style page
  • [STYLE-523] – Update Style/Aliases for "primary for locale"
  • [STYLE-527] – Work-work relationships shouldn’t allow dates

New Feature

  • [STYLE-437] – Add VHD as a media format
  • [STYLE-439] – Add Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) as a media format
  • [STYLE-442] – Add classicalarchives.com to Other DBs whitelist
  • [STYLE-446] – Work-Event rel: Premiered at
  • [STYLE-450] – Add Copy Control CD (CCCD) as a media format
  • [STYLE-451] – Add Videogam.in to the Other Database whitelist
  • [STYLE-475] – Add artist-place "organist" relationship
  • [STYLE-479] – Add artist-artist teacher relationship
  • [STYLE-483] – Add "incidental music" work type
  • [STYLE-498] – URL whitelist request : mvdbase
  • [STYLE-512] – Add an artist-artist "composer in residence" relationship

Task

  • [STYLE-393] – Drop "EP" attribute from the "single from" relationship type
  • [STYLE-404] – Update series (volume number, etc) guidelines now that we have series
  • [STYLE-414] – Add Spirit of Rock to the Other Databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-441] – Add guideline which covers artists in work disambiguation comments
  • [STYLE-444] – Add a relationship type for linking recordings to their corresponding music videos
  • [STYLE-445] – Add a relationship type for artists featuring in videos
  • [STYLE-491] – Add guideline about where to set a work type
  • [STYLE-496] – Other DB: Traditional Tune Archive (tunearch.org)
  • [STYLE-497] – Other DB: FolkWiki; folkwiki.se
  • [STYLE-500] – Ability to link to bandsintown.com
  • [STYLE-501] – Add "has BookBrainz entry" relationship
  • [STYLE-513] – Add SHM-SACD as a medium format
  • [STYLE-514] – Clarify how "o’clock" should be capitalised in English
  • [STYLE-516] – Add a relationship for linking artists to their tours
  • [STYLE-517] – Update Theatre guidelines to remove link to deprecated Opera guidelines
  • [STYLE-518] – Approve MusixMatch as a lyrics source
  • [STYLE-521] – Label sortname guideline needs updating

Downstream Wikipedia link usage and migration to Wikidata

MusicBrainz has linked to Wikipedia for many years and we now have links to Wikidata as well. Wikidata, however, acts as a central repository for Wikipedia links, so it does not make sense for MusicBrainz to maintain its own separate set of Wikipedia links, especially since Wikipedia URLs are not very stable (because of page moves and deletions) and require a lot of maintenance. Most of our data with Wikipedia links is now also linked to Wikidata, so we plan to start removing Wikipedia links where we have a Wikidata link which has the same Wikipedia link.

What this means for downstream data users:

If you use Wikipedia links, we will provide Wikidata links but you will need to fetch the Wikipedia links you want from Wikidata separately. Wikidata has information on ways to access their data at https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Wikidata:Data_access

We plan to start removing the links after the schema change this month, starting with the less common languages and entity types. It will take a while to work through the existing links, so we don’t expect to start removing English links from artists until after the Autumn schema change.

We recognise that some people may have code which depends on these links – if you’re using these links and the above sounds problematic, please let us know how you’re using the data (which languages and entity types) and how much time you would need to support Wikidata.

Style update, 2015-02-11

New updates to style are here! We gave proper definitions to “social network” and “online community” (and while doing that we split last.fm from “social network” into its own type). Also added a few formats and other types, a few relationships, and removed the ultra-specific “Promo Only” guideline (which is now in the label annotation as guidance, like for so many other labels in MusicBrainz).

Improvement

  • [STYLE-279] – Add "Place of Worship" as place type
  • [STYLE-323] – Last Fm not a social network
  • [STYLE-334] – Add IMDb links for works
  • [STYLE-411] – Demote the Promo Only guidelines to label-specific guidance
  • [STYLE-425] – Add a general Shellac/78 rpm format

New Feature

  • [STYLE-415] – Add "Review" URL to events
  • [STYLE-428] – Add a "revised" artist-work relationship
  • [STYLE-430] – Add a "Musical" work type

Task

  • [STYLE-402] – Improve online community and social network relationship types
  • [STYLE-423] – Add Flexi disc as a medium format

Style update, 2015-01-27

Small update this time. Two main changes – a few more pages are now linkable as “other databases”, and a lot of small guidelines related to titles have been condensed into the Titles guideline instead.

Improvement

  • [STYLE-229] – Add Biblioteka Piosenki to the otherDBs whitelist
  • [STYLE-358] – Add Québec Info Musique to the "other Database Whitelist"
  • [STYLE-412] – Simplify the text of the Featured Artists guideline

New Feature

  • [STYLE-238] – Add viola.linneanet.fi to the other databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-386] – Add "Ted Crane’s DanceDB"
  • [STYLE-387] – Add "The Dance Gypsy"
  • [STYLE-390] – Whitelist Mainly Norfolk

Task

  • [STYLE-406] – Style/Titles duplicates guidelines

Style update, 2015-01-13

It’s been, well, a bit too long, but here we go with a new entry of “What has changed in Style”!

The two bigger changes to previous usage here involve pseudo-releases and live bootlegs: Pseudo-releases should only contain basic data in most cases and bootlegs should only be renamed if they have no title.

Improvement

  • [STYLE-165] – Add Russian text to Style/Language/Russian
  • [STYLE-408] – Add a “Play” work type

New Feature

  • [STYLE-292] – Add “Licensee” relationship
  • [STYLE-374] – “Founded” Artist-Place relationship type
  • [STYLE-388] – Add {instrument/vocal} to Event-Artist performance relationships
  • [STYLE-400] – Add a release-area (and place?) “manufactured in” relationship
  • [STYLE-403] – Add “formerly attributed to” work-artist relationship

Task

  • [STYLE-342] – Define how pseudo-releases should be used
  • [STYLE-391] – Postponed Events
  • [STYLE-405] – Update live bootleg style now that we have events and places

Sub-task

  • [STYLE-103] – Update once audiobooks style is passed

Style update, 2014-12-03

After skipping a fortnight because of concentrating on the schema change release, here’s the next edition of the style update, with all the changes from the last month. Most of the changes involve adding new medium formats and new place/area relationships, plus making changes and additions related to the new schema change features (events and data tracks).

The biggest change this month is the addition of a classical music titles guideline. This deprecates the old Opera Tracks guideline, and basically just provides a certain amount of standardisation while keeping mostly true to the on-cover titles.

Improvement

  • [STYLE-221] – Add Data CD format(s)
  • [STYLE-354] – Add a new medium format "dts Audio CD" for CD’s that are encodes as DTS streams
  • [STYLE-367] – Add an attribute for performing time to event artists

New Feature

  • [STYLE-344] – Style for classical track titles
  • [STYLE-356] – Add a "part of" event-event relationship
  • [STYLE-371] – "Subseries" relationship (needs MBS-8055 to actually work)

Task

  • [STYLE-349] – Update special purpose track title for data tracks
  • [STYLE-350] – "Engineered at" Place relationship
  • [STYLE-351] – Release group official website wording causes it to be misused
  • [STYLE-352] – Add relationship types for setlist.fm
  • [STYLE-357] – Add event type "clinic"
  • [STYLE-359] – Merge "Videotape" into "Other"
  • [STYLE-360] – Add Playbutton as a medium format
  • [STYLE-361] – Add music card as a medium format
  • [STYLE-363] – Add VinylDisc as a medium format
  • [STYLE-364] – Add DVDplus as a medium format
  • [STYLE-365] – Add 3.5" floppy disk as a medium format
  • [STYLE-366] – Add Edison Diamond Disc as a medium format
  • [STYLE-368] – "Edited at" Place relationship type
  • [STYLE-369] – Disable dates for event relationships
  • [STYLE-370] – Place(/Area)-Recording rel: produced at
  • [STYLE-379] – "remixed at" place-recording/release relationship type

Style update, 2014-11-03

As mentioned when the new style process was announced, at a similar time to every server release post we’ll be publishing a list of what’s changed in style during that period.

The first period of two weeks (or three, in this case) under the process has passed, and these are all the style-related issues that have been accepted and implemented during it. Most of them are very small (mostly adding sites to the whitelist for the Other Databases relationship) although a couple are new relationships or relationships being extended to more entities.

No changes to the guidelines themselves have happened during this period.

  • [STYLE-211] – Allow new allmusic.com release links
  • [STYLE-250] – Add finnmusic.net to the other databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-251] – Add pomus.net to whitelist
  • [STYLE-256] – Add fono.fi to the other databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-269] – Add mixing and mastering to area relationships
  • [STYLE-307] – グラスレ(grass thread/yunisan) as Artist and Label “Other DB” relationship
  • [STYLE-308] – ジャパメタ(japameta) as Artist “Other DB” relationship
  • [STYLE-312] – Add “Deutsche Nationalbibliothek” to whitelist for other databases
  • [STYLE-328] – Add leader/concertmaster artist-release/recording relationships
  • [STYLE-337] – Add IMSLP relationship to artists
  • [STYLE-338] – Add Stage48 Wiki to the other databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-339] – Add CiNii to the other databases whitelist
  • [STYLE-340] – Add NDL to the other databases whitelist

Changes to our style process

At the MusicBrainz Summit last month in Copenhagen, one of the topics to
be discussed was the state of the style guidelines and style process.
One thing those present agreed on was that the process was in need of
reform, for several reasons: the complexity of the process,
inconsistency with other processes in the project, the high level of
individual commitment required to make changes, long-running discussions
without conclusion or followthrough, and ultimately the state of the
final product, the style guidelines themselves. The inaccessibility of
our existing process meant that many users, both new and old, avoided
the style process, and this hurts the project: style is part of what
makes MusicBrainz what it is, and low participation means our guidelines
have grown both internally inconsistent and out of sync with community
practice. Nor is the style process a new problem for MusicBrainz:
historically, it’s changed several times and some past style leaders
have vanished into thin air.  After all, it is a hard job, for a
volunteer, to convince many voices to come to a consensus.

To improve upon these issues, we’ve decided to make two major changes.

First: to designate our JIRA issue tracker at tickets.musicbrainz.org as
the central coordination point for style issues. This way, any issue, be
it style-related or code-related, is reported and discussed in the same
place (and should an issue be misfiled, it’s easily corrected). The
issue tracker can also collect links to other discussions, in edit
notes, the forums, IRC, etc., and store links to related issues such as
features in need of implementation.

Second: to promote our current Style Leader to Style Benevolent Dictator
For Life (Style BDFL). Nicolás Tamargo (reosarevok) will then be in
charge of considering tickets and implementing changes in the style
guidelines. This change shifts the burden of evaluating style issues
from the community to our newly appointed BDFL. For simple changes and
for simple improvements to consistency and writing style, the BDFL can
change things directly, without need for lengthy discussion. Of course,
his work won’t happen in a vacuum: for changes that are complex or
contentious, the role of the BDFL will be to gather feedback and
determine the next steps before making changes. To this end, he may
occasionally call for a non-binding vote on a particular topic, to
collect a snapshot of community opinion to augment existing discussion,
all in order to make a better informed decision.

We hope that this new process will make contribution to the creation of
style guidelines easier and less onerous a commitment for everyone, and
that the resulting style guidelines will be more up-to-date, more
consistent, and more clearly written and organized. To test it out,
we’re going to try this process for 6 months, and then review how things
have progressed and if the process needs further tweaking or even
complete replacement.