xdef's proposal for file-based/digital release submissions on discogs

To begin with, there are a couple of possibly controversial rules which
I have proposed:

  • Only entire releases may be submitted.
    • Discogs doesn't knowingly allow incomplete physical releases to
      be submitted to discogs. This rule should stay for digital
      releases. For one, it causes confusion (track numbering will be
      wrong, people will be unsure what release it is, etc.) This is
      really only controversial when dealing with paid releases, where
      some people only want to download individual tracks.
  • Only exclusive releases may be submitted from scratch.
    • I have proposed below a system through which non-exclusive
      releases will be generated from the physical version. This, I
      fear, will be extremely unpopular with many newer and future
      users. However, I believe that for the present (and years to
      come) it is our only way to maintain the accuracy (if I may say
      so) for which we have been applauded. Most labels distributing
      their music via digital services keep spreadsheets or
      rudimentary databases of their releases (one track per row).
      They provide this data to the online distributors (and others
      involved in the whole process), sometimes as file-names, more
      often as spreadsheets, etc. Unfortunately, this information is
      quite often inaccurate! Wrong catalog numbers, titles, names,
      etc. Truncated data, missing fields, etc. This is what the
      online digital distributor uses to generate their listings --
      and then they often mangle it further, tweaking with titles and
      such. Thus, it isn't uncommon to have different services listing
      the same album with slightly different titles, none of them
      being accurate. When labels get sales statements back from
      distributors, they sometimes aren't even able to figure out what
      track some sales corresponded to. With this current state of
      affairs (and no real solution in sight) I believe it is best for
      discogs that we just stick to basing data off of the physical
      version, when it exists.
    • Note: if we need to change this rule eventually it wouldn't fly
      in the face of any of my proposals below. But I believe that my
      proposed rule should suit us well for at least the next few
      years, if not more.

Anyways, here we go. And please note that when I am giving evidence for
things, it isn't hypothetical. I work in this industry and the evidence
given here are things I've seen or had to deal with.

  • Allowed Releases
    • Publicly available releases.
    • Privately available releases by artists already in discogs AND
      where said release appears in the artist's official discography.
    • (I always hate coming up with rules for this...)
  • Submission Guidelines
    • You must have downloaded the entire release in order to submit
      it. Discogs does not allow partial release submissions. You must
      also have the files available on the computer you are submitting
      from, and also the release's download/purchase page open in your
      browser or other application.
    • The label should be the releasing label. In some cases this will
      be a netlabel or other label that releases it over the web. In
      other cases it is the label that released the physical version.
      The only time when the label can be the online digital
      distributor is when the release is digital-exclusive, exclusive
      to a specific distributor, and arranged directly via an artist
      or licensing agency and not via a label.
    • No external links are allowed in the notes. In general there
      should be no need to list non-linked external urls (most
      netlabel releases should be accessable from the url on the
      label-page, for instance). One-off releases, releases announced
      on mailing-lists, etc. may not be accessable by normal means and
      thus a url (unlinked) to the release web page will be permitted
      (and probably required if moderators cannot find the release
    • Track times will be required for all file-based/digital
    • In your mod notes please provide the a link to the release if it
      is available on the web. Otherwise, please state which online
      service (such as iTuenes, etc.) you downloaded the release from.
  • Submission Procedure
    • Exclusive releases will be submitted on the usual discogs
      submission form. A new format will be created for
      file-based/digital releases (name t.b.d.). Once selecting this
      format, a new section of the form appears. Here they can choose
      from a number of options (such as MP3, ogg-vorbis, WAV, etc.)
      and/or(?) mark that it is available from online digital music
      services (i.e. iTunes, eMusic).
    • Non-exclusive releases will be submitted via a new section of
      the Update Release page for a given release. This will bring up
      a form where the digital options (as listed above) can be
      checked, and new release notes (defaulting to the existing
      notes) can be added. (Most of the rationale for this is given in
      my intro.) Kind of like a copy-to-draft with most of the data
      fixed. I must admit that I'm not too sure what to do with
      release year, though... it is usually unknown by all involved. I
      guess catalog numbers could also be edited (some smaller labels
      give these new cat#s) -- but we should be extremely wary of
      such changes.
    • I do not favor allowing people to mark which individual services
      it is available on, or the formats it is available on from those
      formats. Unless a release is "iTunes exclusive" or something
      (which can be put in the notes) labels use online music services
      in pretty much the same way that they use physical distributors.
      Except in some cases where it was released with the cooperation
      of a specific distributor, etc. we don't list that releases were
      distributed by Ryko or Rough Trade. Nor do we list that CDs are
      available from amazon.com or Tower Records. Similarly, digital
      releases are often made available at a variety of online
      file-based/digital distributors -- the list of distributors for
      a given release can change and expand over time. Some labels
      have employees whose only job is to find obscure online digital
      distributors to sell their music through, no matter how little
      income it generates (think $0.52 cents per month for a big
      label). There's something on the order of 100 online digital
      distributors and no one is sure where the market will lead. Many
      services have their own proprietary formats, for downloads,
      tethered releases, etc. As the market and technology changes, no
      one is quite sure where this will go either. With potentially
      dozens of distributors per release, and a different format for
      each, it is probably unreasonable for us to attempt to keep this
      info up-to-date, especially when labels aren't even able to do
      so. (Well, that was probably overkill, but I hope I got my point
  • New Discogs Structure
    • Due to the diversity of interests of discogs users, we must come
      up with a system that will satisfy everyone. While some users
      want to see all MP3s, others want to see none. Thus, I suggest a
      three-tiered system of personal preferences to deal with this.
      They are as follows:
      • View everything: All file-based/digital releases are
        viewable, both exclusive and non-exclusive.
      • View exclusive: Only file-based/digital releases that
        are exclusive are viewable.
      • View none: No file-based/digital releases are viewable.
        However, if an artist or label does have exclusive mp3s it
        may be desired to have a note at the top of the page to the
        effect that "Some file-based/digital releases are not being
        shown due to your preferences." Clicking a link there will
        show that page from the View exclusive perspective (by
        throwing an extra param onto the url).
    • Adding to collection. If someone has View everything set,
      clicking "Add to Collection" for a file-based/digital release
      will present a per-track checkbox (and a select all button) to
      allow them to add individual tracks to their collection.
    • Collection listing -- I haven't given this too much thought to
      date. I have a few ideas, but it's less critical compared to the
      rest of this. In general I think it should just list releases,
      not tracks. If someone has only some tracks for a release it can
      have a flag indicating that it is partial (and maybe a
      mouse-over box listing the tracks).
    • Want-list I guess could be similar to collection.
    • Moderating -- probably similar to the existing setup, but with a
      new update (Generate digital version) and digital/no-digital

A few other thoughts... we probably need to have clear definitions of
these near the top of the guidelines:

  • netlabel
  • online digital distributor