User:Mjb/Discogs notes

From Offset
Jump to navigationJump to search

This is a dumping ground for my own notes about Discogs policies and guidelines.


The formats list is incomplete and has errors and misleading guidance such as "Only to be used for production runs, not for one offs" when in fact we do allow one-offs which don't meet a vague definition of "homemade".

I tried starting a discussion re: updating the definitions of Acetate and Lathe Cut, but nobody replied.

Here are my current suggestions for some replacement entries, although I admit these may contain too much detail:

Acetate (new definition)

An acetate, also known as a lacquer cut or dubplate, is similar to a vinyl record, but the disc is made of lacquer-coated metal. An acetate can be played directly about 6 times before the audio quality becomes intolerable. The lacquer also shrinks and flakes off over time, rendering many older acetates unplayable. Most acetates are not played, but rather are electroplated and used as the basis for physical molds for pressing vinyl records. This type of acetate is often oversized, with an inch or more of unused space near the outer edge.

In the mid-20th Century, there were coin-operated novelty booths which created small, one-off acetates of audio recorded by the buyer through a microphone; these should not be submitted. Historically significant one-offs may be submitted, as well as professional test cuts that were made for releases already in the database, but any other acetates should be discussed first. There is no definition of historically significant; use common sense.

Lathe Cut (new definition)

A lathe cut is similar to an acetate, but instead of being cut into an oversized lacquer-coated metal disc, the spiral groove is carved directly into some other material. The material can be vinyl, but this is not how vinyl records are normally made; sound quality is very poor as compared to pressed vinyl. Lathe cuts tend to be novelty items and generally should not be submitted. In the 2010s, a number of vendors on online auction sites began selling bootleg picture discs which are advertised as rare collectors' items, but which in reality are homemade lathe cuts which may not even contain the pictured artist's music. Historically significant lathe cuts, even one-offs, may be submitted, but others should be discussed first.

Pathé Disc (new definition)

A Pathé Disc is a record similar to a shellac 78, but contains a vertically cut groove, like an Edison Disc (only the depth of the groove changes). Pathé Discs were on the Pathé label and often came in unusual sizes. Early discs were 90 RPM with an inside-start groove. In 1915 they switched to 80 RPM and outside-start. Pathé Discs were produced from 1905 to 1932, mostly on the Pathé label.

In 1920, the company also began producing lateral-cut records with the Actuelle or Pathé Actuelle label; these are mostly 10" records and should be entered as Shellac, not Pathé Disc.

More info:

Edison Disc (new definition)

An Edison Disc, also known as a Diamond Disc, is similar to a shellac 78, but it is ¼-inch thick, and contains a vertically cut groove, like a Pathé Disc (only the depth of the groove changes). Edison Discs were produced from 1912 to 1929.

More info:

Shellac (new definition)

Shellac records account for the majority of what are called "78s". They are made partially from secretions of the lac beetle. Speeds varied greatly at first, but since the mid-1920s, most are cut at exactly 78.26 RPM (commonly regarded as "78 RPM"). Most are 10" or 12" in diameter, and are pressed from molds which are based on original wax discs cut during a live performance via a lathe with a horn or microphone attached. The groove is laterally cut. Most shellac records contain a type of groove called "coarse" or "standard play", meaning it is made for a needle or conical stylus with a tip roughly 3 mil (0.0030") in diameter, as compared to the post-1945 "fine" or "microgroove" type of groove which was standard for vinyl LPs and 45s.

Most shellac records were not pure shellac, but were actually a composite of materials around a core of some kind, with the amount and types of materials variable and kept secret. New shellac records were shiny and resembled black vinyl, but repeated plays and mishandling often dulls the finish significantly. Shellac records were produced from 1889 to about 1960.

Not all 78 RPM records are shellac. After WWII, many record companies switched to hard, thin plastic formulations, often labeled "unbreakable"; these should be considered Vinyl. A relatively small number of vinyl records were produced with coarse groove and 33 RPM, or microgroove and 78 RPM; these should also be entered as Vinyl. But if a post-1945 record is thick and coarse-groove, and you can't determine what it's made of, then either Shellac or Vinyl is acceptable, or you can ask in the forum.

Do not use the Mono tag on shellac records; they are all mono.

Vinyl (new definition)

Vinyl records, also called just vinyl, are the most popular record format. They are normally pressed from hot, high-pressure molds in 7", 10" or 12" sizes, with the groove laterally cut at 33⅓ or 45 RPM, or less commonly at 78.26 ("78") or 16⅔ RPM. Vinyl is not a single material, but rather a chemical mix consisting mainly of a type of petroleum-based plastic called Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), dyes for color (typically black), an antifungal agent, and plasticizers which add flexibility. Vinyl records are lightweight and thin, as compared to shellac 78s. Vinyl records can be very flexible, or they can be very stiff, like the "unbreakable" records marketed mainly in the 1940s and 1950s.

78 RPM vinyl records for consumers debuted in late 1945. The 33⅓ RPM microgroove "LP" (10" or 12") debuted in 1948. The 7" 45 RPM format debuted in 1949 and was also microgroove. Variations exist, such as 7" at 33⅓ RPM or 12" at 45 RPM. Coarse-groove vinyl records also exist but were uncommon and were discontinued by the late 1950s.

Microgroove records are designed for a stylus with a tip of 0.7 to 1.0 mil (0.0007" to 0.0010") at a relatively low tracking force (5 grams or less, usually around half that). The groove can potentially be so narrow, shallow, and tightly packed that a coarse-groove stylus cannot stay play it at all. However, many mono microgroove records do not push those limits and can actually be played with such a stylus; it just rides higher in the groove.

Vinyl records were all mono until stereo was introduced in late 1957. Stereo is always microgroove, with the side channel stored in the groove depth. Many stereo records were initially marketed as "compatible", to reassure consumers that the new format was compatible with mono systems.

A "picture disc" is clear vinyl with a visible, printed cardstock core.

Not all 7" 45s are vinyl; some are Styrene, a separate format. [We need info here on how to distinguish.]

Not all vinyl records are pressed from molds; some novelty records are directly cut using blank vinyl discs and a lathe, and have very poor sound quality; see the Lathe Cut format.

In English, vinyl can mean the substance records are made of, or an indistinct quantity of such records. The term "vinyls" is never correct; you can refer to "my vinyl" or "my vinyl records" but not "my vinyls".

More info:

LP vs. 12"

Section 6.6 of the submission guidelines tries to explain the difference between a 12" and an LP. This was originally based on a misunderstanding of microgroove; it was incorrectly assumed that LPs use microgroove and 12" singles do not. When the error was pointed out, the offending term was eventually removed, but now the section does not really seem very useful, and its talk of groove types is misleading.

This section needs to be rewritten with the focus being mainly just to keep people from putting the LP tag on a 12" (I think it was always intended for people who think of all "big vinyls" as "LPs"), and secondarily to clarify whether an album comprising multiple 45 RPM 12" records can still be tagged LP.

Groove pitch and density should have nothing to do with it, since there are plenty of 12"s which are 33 RPM and album-length and not fundamentally different from LPs, and there are albums which are split up onto multiple 12"-length discs, sometimes even at 45 RPM, thus not fundamentally different from 12"s.

Sorry, I don't actually have a proposal for replacement text for this section yet.

Coarse groove vs. microgroove

I do feel that it would be good for people to understand coarse and microgroove, but as this does not directly affect submissions, it should not be in the submission guidelines. I don't know where to put it. Also, the following explanation repeats a bit of what I said in the proposed format definitions above. Well, anyway...

Vinyl records are cut within certain tolerances. The "look" of the groove can vary quite a bit because of this.

Coarse groove or "SP" is what shellac 78s and and pre-LP vinyl records used. If you play these records with a microgroove (a.k.a. fine-groove) stereo needle, which is 2.5x to 3x narrower than a coarse-groove needle, it might work on some records, but it probably will not sound ideal, and it may wear out your needle much faster than normal. Likewise, you can use a coarse-groove needle on a mono microgroove record, but it will ride higher in the groove and may need a high tracking weight, which will wear out the vinyl over repeated plays.

Microgroove allows for fitting more play time onto a side, and is essentially required for stereo. Nearly all vinyl records made since the advent of the LP, even if they are mono, are cut to microgroove specs (e.g. IEC 98 or IEC 60098).

Microgroove allows for thinner records. Records were already becoming thinner in the 1940s and 1950s, as substitutes for shellac were found, but microgroove allows for the thinnest records yet.

Coarse groove wasn't standardized until 1964, the same year most countries stopped producing it, and the info was removed from the specs altogether in the 1970s.

Although microgroove was invented to enable creating long-play records (LPs), microgroove alone does not make a 12" record an LP. 12" records can still be cut with a relatively loud, short piece of music, and with a wide space between each turn of the spiral—this is typical on many 12" singles. The look can be similar to that of a coarse-groove record, but it is still microgroove, made to be played by a modern stylus. has some specs and notes for the microgrooves. Basically the standards set some minimums (sometimes) and maximums, and as technology improved into the 1970s, they found that the minimums could be reduced quite a bit, allowing even more music to be cut onto a side. Groove top width can be as low as 30 µm (30 microns = 1.18 mil), bottom width as low as 4 microns (0.16 mil), needle tip radius 0.5 to 0.7 mil for stereo and up to 1.0 mil (25 µm) for mono (1 mil = 0.001"). In contrast, a typical coarse groove needle tip radius is 2.5 mil! (64 µm).

A mono coarse groove will have a minimum top width of ~150 µm (5.9 mil) and bottom radius of ~25 µm (1 mil), with optimum spherical tip radius about half that (2.8 mil), with 2.0 to 2.5 mil recommended for "modern" records (as of 1958). Different tip radius = different depth (needle rides higher or lower in the groove).

A 1979 Indian standard (IS 9279-1) says a mono microgroove tip radius should be 13 to 25 µm (0.5 to 1.0 mil), stereo 13 to 18 µm (0.5 to 0.7 mil), coarse 51 to 76 µm (2.0 to 3.0 mil).

A 1964 European standard (IEC 98) says a mono coarse groove tip radius for 78 rpm EPs (and it is implied as being for vinyl only) is 2.1 to 2.5 mil (53 to 63 µm). The 1958 standard does not imply vinyl, and says 2 to 3 mil (50 to 75 µm).

A mono microgroove will have a top width as small as 2 mil, but I have found that my 2.5 mil conical stylus plays mono LPs & 45s without any problem, so they must have a top width greater than 5 mil (127 µm)! I suspect record manufacturers made an effort to cut mono vinyl with a groove that would be "compatible" with both stylus types.

  • Audio Technica AT MONO/SP3 conical "needle size" = 2.5 mil
  • Shure M97xE elliptical stylus tip radii = 0.2 x 0.7 mil
  • A 1969 German standard says tip radius in 1969 was 15 μm (0.6 mil) (1975 standard: 15 to 18 μm = 0.5 to 0.7 mil)
  • (this info in a relatively concise post by me)

Deep groove

"Deep groove" has nothing to do with coarse groove or microgroove; in fact it has nothing to do with the groove containing the music. It is a stamper ring set into the label area, deeper than most. Classical and jazz collectors sometimes use it to distinguish pressings.

Discogs history

Some key events:

  • late 2000: Site launch, accepting Electronic releases only. All submissions & edits moderated. Label often defined or determined by the record company named in copyright notices, sometimes with a country name in parentheses appended. Single, Maxi-Single, etc. defined based on number of tracks. Catalog numbers routinely fudged for consistency and sorting. Titles/mix titles routinely fudged for consistency or perceived artist intent. Release notes appear above the tracklist and are always kept very short or blank. Same catalog number = same release, even if artwork is different.
  • 2004: In a database upgrade, much of the release history data is blanked or removed.
  • Apr 2005: first employee hired (nik, as Community Manager).
  • 2005: Moderation queue is no longer hidden from users; all changes go "live" immediately, but still only designated moderators & editors can vote.
  •  ?: Style tags introduced, Electronic releases with no style tag get tagged Electro (whoops!).
  • 2006 or 2007: CD5" format replaced by CD + Maxi-Single automatically.
  • c. 2007–2008: Label finally based on branding.
  • Aug 2007: v3 launch
  • 18 Sep 2007: nik says releases with different artwork OK as separate releases – (thread now deleted!).
  • Feb 2008: nik says promo-stamped/mutilated retail releases OK as separate releases – (thread now deleted!). Users shoot it down within months.
  • Mar 2008: v4 launch - No more moderators, users can now vote on each other's releases via a new voting system. Months-long moderation queue instantly cleared by approving all pending edits and submissions. Forums previously only visible to moderators and editors now hidden/deleted. Many users disparage the changes as "WikiOgs", leave in protest, and try to start a new moderated database (DiscographyDB) which results in many arguments and never gets off the ground.
  •  ?: The ability to merge artists is introduced, then is taken away.
  •  ?: The ability to merge releases is introduced, taken away, and reintroduced.
  •  ?: Forums split into staff-moderated Forums (help forums) and user-created-and-moderated "Groups".
  • Apr 2009: Master Release functionality added.
  • Dec 2009: BAOI fields added.
  • Nov 2010: Guideline changes: companies can be artists, Maxi tag no longer valid without proof –
  • Aug 2011: LCCN fields added (divides labels into several types)
  • Feb 2014: Index tracks renamed to headings, and new index track feature debuts
  • Mar 2014: HTML is no longer allowed in release notes.

Your help is needed to add more important developments to this list! Contact mjb on Discogs.

Barcode rollout

This may be of some use when trying to determine whether something is a reissue. For example, a US release on a major label cannot be from prior to 1978 if it has a barcode.

Info gleaned from Billboard articles:

  • As of 7/78, none of the majors were barcoding. [BB 7/29/79 p.6]
  • As of 2/79, CBS, A&M, Chrysalis, and Pacific Arts were already barcoding to some degree. [BB 2/10/79 p.3]
  • On 2/19/79, Capitol started barcoding with the release of 29 barcoded mid-line LPs, including artists such as Cannonball Adderly, Alfred Apaka, Mahi Beamer, Nat King Cole, Webley Edwards, Freddie & The Dreamers, Jane Froman, Judy Garland, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Bobby Hackett, Merle Haggard, Billy J. Kramer & The Dakotas, Freddy Martin, Billy May, Franck Pourcel, Jean Shepard, Frank Sinatra, Jo Stafford, Kay Starr, Yma Sumac, The Tams, Hank Thompson, and Nancy Wilson. [BB 2/10/79 p.3]
  • As of 3/79, 100% of new product on A&M, Chrysalis, Columbia Masterworks, Music Minus One, Inner City Jazz; plus some Columbia pop and Capitol pop. [BB 3/31/79 p.87]
  • As of 5/79, CBS is now at 100% [BB 4/7/79 p.55]
  • As of 8/80, some Warner Bros. product is already barcoded. Arista, MCA planned for very soon. Elektra, Atlantic, PolyGram, RCA planned but no dates set. [BB 8/16/80 p.3]
  • As of 10/80, Arista now at 100%. WEA and Capitol-EMI are barcoding some product. [BB 10/4/80 p.3]
  • On 1/1/81, RCA to begin with 100% coverage. [BB 10/4/80 p.3]
  • As of 7/81: Capitol now 100%, Some WB & MCA. [BB 7/11/81 p.9]
  • As of 11/82, WEA & EMI planned to start barcoding in Germany later in 1983. CBS, Sonopress/Ariola, Teldec, K-Tel had not yet committed. WEA launched a new cat# system 1 Sep 82 (prefix+4 digit product ID+config ID) to support barcodes. [BB 11/20/82 p.9]
  • In 1/83, PolyGram to begin with 100% coverage. [BB 11/20/82 p.9]
  • As of 10/86, WEA barcodes 50% of LP & 40% of MC product (WEA claims 67% & 65%); Motown ~33% LP & MC; Capitol 77% of CD (Capitol claims 100%); WEA 74% of CD ; other majors 95% of CD. RCA, A&M and Arista initially changed barcodes to reflect price changes; this was planned to stop soon. First 200,000 copies of Tina Turner [presumably Break Every Rule, format not specified but implied as CD] have no barcode due to a printing error. [BB 10/11/86 p.42]

UK chart rules

Effective 1/83: LP & MC are equivalent if they have same title & 80% same content. 7" & 12" are equivalent if 50% of 7" titles are on the 12" and the main track has same title and is substantially the same music. 7" & 12" releases must have < 6 tracks or be < 25 minutes. [BB 11/20/82 p. 9]

Effective 11/83: 12" must have same songs as 7", but can be different mixes. Records cannot include free gifts like t-shirts. [Music Week 1983-11-05 p. 1]

Already in effect 2/84: An album cannot be dealer-priced under £1.82. B-Boys "Cuttin' Herbie" release on Streetwave was considered an album because it played at 33⅓ RPM, had 5 tracks and 24 minutes playing time, and was dealer-priced at £1.82. [Music Week 1984-02-04 p. 12]

The UK & Europe country tag

There used to be just a UK tag and a Europe tag, no tag for "UK & Europe". IIRC, the original request for the tag was made in 2008 by Lazlo.Nibble, but I think I may have also discussed it with nik in a now-deleted discussion in a moderator/editor forum or old support request.

There is a loud minority of users who strongly oppose the UK & Europe tag. They argue that the UK is part of Europe, so the Europe tag should suffice for any release which the UK & Europe tag would be applied to. By having a UK & Europe tag, it reinforces the incorrect notion that the Europe tag cannot include the UK.

The original request for the tag was asking for it in order to solve the problem of the choice of UK or Europe or blank never being quite right, causing confusion for a release which has both UK & international catalog numbers. This happens often with singles, but also with albums. One edition is marked for UK only, one is marked for parts of continental Europe only, and then one has indications of being for both. The goal of having a new tag would be so we could respectively tag them as UK, Europe, and UK & Europe, which would make them easier to distinguish on the artist and label pages. Indeed, this is how the tag ended up being used, once it was available. That is, a release which looks like a UK release but also has indications of being marketed anywhere in continental Europe normally gets the UK & Europe tag.

In the original proposal there was no discussion of whether a release's market was an inference rather than something explicitly mentioned on the item. There was no discussion of whether an explicit mention had to specifically mention distribution or if, say, "D:" and "F:" prefixes on German and French price codes would suffice. There was no discussion of these things, I believe, because it was (and is) normal to make inferences of the market countries rather than look for explicit mentions, which are exceedingly rare.

It wasn't until 2011 that we got any guidance for using the tag, at which point nik's memory starts to slip and he asks us to confirm whether it was only for when UK & Europe are both mentioned somewhere:

He then weighed in on a release which had boilerplate Ariola "Distributed in Europe" text as well as price codes prefixed with UK, D, and F. He said that this would be OK to tag as UK & Europe.

Over the next few years, some users increasingly interpreted his 2011 posts as requiring explicit mention of UK and Europe. This was not without debate, confusion, and contradictory advice, e.g. at and

IMHO, the fact that you can infer Europe for the use of the Europe tag, and you can infer UK for the use of the UK tag, make it difficult to reconcile the notion that you cannot base the UK & Europe tag on the same kind of inferences. Nevertheless, nik finally came back in 2016 for another round of talking in riddles, as one user put it. This time, his recollection of the purpose of the tag was now certain:

"UK & Europe" was an extraneous tag added to be used where the release is explicitly marked as being distributed in the UK and Europe, as separate entities.

Ugh, he is wrong here. When pressed to explain, he ended up reiterating his position that UK must be explicit if the UK & Europe tag is to be used. Yet, his choice of phrasing, "if a release is distributed in...", again leaves uncertainty around what can be inferred from catalog numbers, price codes, rights societies, and so on. How are we determining that the release "is distributed" in a particular place?

If a release is distributed in the UK, it is a UK release.

If a release is distributed in Europe (can include the UK), it is a European release. (NOTE this is different from the EU)
If a release is distributed in Europe, AND the release explicitly calls out the UK as a region (for example, "Distributed in Europe and the UK by etc etc"), then and only then use the "UK and Europe" tag.

If in doubt, DO NOT USE the "UK and Europe" tag.

This was at which followed on from

I'm sure he thought he was keeping it simple. I understand and accept the notion that the Europe tag can include the UK, but the status quo is that we are still allowed to infer UK (without explicit mention of it) for the UK tag, and we are allowed to use the Europe tag for multiple/ambiguous continental European countries which may be inferred as well. So how is it we cannot use the UK & Europe tag when we infer both the UK and at least one continental European country? This wasn't how the tag was proposed nor how it is normally used.

We are also nowadays having discussions of whether we can ever infer anything about the market countries. It was pointed out that even explicit "UK" and "Int" cat#s, price codes, and "Distributed in" text is often boilerplate and not trustworthy for knowing where a release was actually intended to be distributed. Likewise, there is increasing skepticism of what can be inferred from dinking, catalog number formats, price codes, and rights societies. It is getting ridiculous, as if all the codes and text on the release have no meaning at all. We are heading toward just leaving every country field blank. Of course, even when blank is the best option, sooner or later someone will come in and "fix" it by filling it in with whatever their opinion is, so that won't work either.

Anytime these topics come up, the discussions are often derailed by useless and shortsighted complaints about market country being a fiction or an impossible analysis that goes far beyond what is verifiable or explicitly on the releases. They usually shut up when I point out the simple example of how there'd be a mutiny if we were unable to easily differentiate between CDs made in Japan (because that's where the first pressing plants were) and actual Japanese (Japan-market) releases. If Discogs would add fields for manufacturing locations and make them show up alongside the market, I feel these complaints would die down, probably replaced by arguments about whether those fields can being filled in with inferred info.

Nik did at least make clear that the (market) country field is for differentiation purposes moreso than precision, so we should not get too wound up about it. I just wish that he and the griping users would realize that by making the UK & Europe tag something which will almost never be used, they are failing to solve the original issue which I described in the boldface text above.

As it stands, I can't make heads or tails of when we are allowed to use the tag. I think it is basically never. Or maybe it is this:

  • UK - for releases assumed to be marketed in the UK only.
  • Europe - for releases assumed to be for more than one region of continental Europe (i.e., there isn't another country tag which will be more accurate), and possibly including UK (as inferred from a UK-style catalog number, if present).
  • UK & Europe - for releases which would normally be tagged Europe (see above) and which explicitly mention UK.

But I am not 100% certain that's really what nik was saying.

Previous discussion:

Interpreting copyright notices

Copyright notices are supposed to convey the following information:

  • The year of first publication (first public release) of the copyright-protected content, not necessarily this particular item
  • The owner of the copyright (usually a record company for sound recordings and artwork or a sheet music publisher for compositions & lyrics)
  • The type of copyright
    • ℗ for the phonorecord (sound recording)
    • © or the word Copyright for anything else
    • Alternative forms exist, like the prose "The copyright in this phonorecord belongs to..."

Record companies screw up their copyright notices all the time, though. Wrong symbols and wrong years are common.

There is also uncertainty in copyright law regarding whether edited, remixed, or remastered recordings are new creative works which get a new copyright. Some labels, like CBS/Columbia/Epic, seemed to believe the copyright year usually should only apply to the underlying recordings, hence many of the edited and remixed singles from Michael Jackson's Thriller album generally say ℗ 1982 on them despite having debuted in 1983 or 1984. Other labels would update the year for every release, even reissues. There is no consistency.

Copyright year may not be the release date

The release submission guidelines encourage using the latest copyright year on the item as the release date, if no better date source can be found. This is good advice because most of the time it is correct. But it is wrong often enough that the release date should be left blank if anyone raises any doubts or concerns about it.

Sometimes a release will be prepared for a November or December release, and then will be delayed until early the following year. In this situation the copyrights are all a year behind.

Copyright owners in LCCN and release notes

The LCCN (label/company/catalog#) fields support both types of copyright owners (℗ and ©). You can enter as many as needed to account for all copyright notices on the release. What you must not do is enter the copyright year in the corresponding catalog number field. In theory, that field should not even be able to be filled in for copyright owners.

The copyright year can only be entered in the release notes. You should transcribe the entire copyright notice into the release notes, even if you have also put the same owners in LCCN fields.

BAOI fields

Catalog numbers on discs in a set

In multi-disc releases, disc-specific catalog numbers are to be entered as BAOI "Other" fields, as per RSG §4.7.6. By disc-specific, I mean the numbers are unique to each disc.

PolyGram US 0#0# codes

PolyGram and Mercury US releases from the 1980s and 1990s often have a small 4-digit code in the lower right corner of the back cover, or sometimes elsewhere on the release. Examples include 0501 and 0704. The meaning of the code is unknown. Enter these as BAOI "Other" fields, with a generic description like Code on tray inlay.

There is speculation that the codes indicate the manufacturer of the printed matter, e.g. 0704 = AGI (Album Graphics, Inc.) and 0501 = SH1 (Shorewood Packaging). This is not confirmed, though, so don't infer any credits yet.

If you have more info, please open a new forum thread about it!

Inconclusive discussion:

Matrix/Runout data is allowed to be in separate fields

We use a broad definition of "matrix"/"runout" which includes all markings in the area of the matrix ID, aside from SID codes RSG §5.2.c encourages entering this text into one field as much as possible, but does allow for separate fields in order to split up the text based on semantics, layout, or how the markings were made. Both ways of entering data are valid, and they each have pros and cons.

BAOI description field standards

BAOI description fields do not need to have every word capitalized, and they can include location info or other text as needed.

Brevity is appreciated—you can assume people know where to look for common types of codes—but it's more important that people are able to use the information to quickly identify whether the release they have is a match.

There are some traditional "standard" descriptions that we like to use.

Some standard descriptions for barcodes are given as examples in [g5.2], but are not fully explained.

  • "Text" (sometimes "Printed") is for any human-readable digits, dashes, and other text printed below, above, and alongside the barcode. It's supposed to be the same digits which are encoded in the machine-readable bars, but with dashes and spaces inserted. Sometimes it is not a perfect match for the bars; there may be digits missing from the Text which are present in the bars.
  • "Scanned" is for the digits obtained by scanning the bars with an actual barcode reader. Ideally the reader should input the digits for you, no typing involved. Otherwise, you can type in what the reader says (e.g. if it's not connected to your computer), and just mention in the submission notes that you manually transcribed or copy-pasted the digits. Just be sure you used a real scanner to get the info; management says never remove spaces & dashes from the text and call it 'Scanned'.
  • The lesser-known "String" (sometimes "Digits") is like "Scanned", but was obtained without the use of a barcode reader; i.e. it is just the digits from the "Text" version, without spaces & dashes. A few users added many of these when the BAOI fields were introduced; the intent was to temporarily provide the digit string that's assumed to be encoded in the bars, so that someone with an actual barcode scanner can quickly find the item on Discogs or via external search engines. (Early discussion here). This ended up being controversial and is not recommended; all such values should be replaced with an actual scanned barcode and the description "Scanned".

We have some de facto standard descriptions for other types of BAOI values:

  • Vinyl matrix descriptions are often in the form of "Label Side A" for side or recording IDs printed on labels, and "Runout Side A" stamps and etchings in the dead wax.
  • Matrix variations are usually tracked by appending "Variant 1", "Variant 2", etc. to the descriptions. Ideally, the first matrix entered will be named Variant 1 once another matrix is entered.
  • "Distribution Code" is for any distribution-related code whose purpose is unknown.

Codes very near or embedded in catalog numbers

When the release packaging has a code (like a price code or label ID) presented like it's all part of the catalog number, or could easily be interpreted that way, then it can be entered as part of the catalog number. It is also OK to enter it separately in a BAOI "Other" field.

Some users choose to do it one way or the other, others do both. Exceptions and specific rules for certain labels may be agreed upon in the database forum and documented in the label profiles.

Promos and white labels

Records with printed white-background labels (e.g. when the normal label designs have colored or decorative backgrounds) are not to be tagged White Label. The tag is only for releases where the labels have no professional printing on them whatsoever. Plain white labels with handwriting and stickers are OK for the tag. RSG §6.12.4 says this explicitly, and the formats list concurs.

As per 6.12.1, white-background labels and particular catalog numbering schemes are not sufficient evidence to tag a record as a Promo. The record must say something on it to indicate it's for promotional or DJ/radio use only, or there must be a reliable external source of info. Exceptions may be possible if agreed to in the Database forum.

Any retail items made into promos by means of a hole punch or saw cut, or promo text in a stamp (e.g. gold stamp), sticker, or overlay, are not to be tagged Promo or submitted separately from the retail editions. If you have such an item in your collection or for sale, just use your personal collection notes or for-sale listing to mention that it's (e.g.) a gold-stamp promo.

You may occasionally see releases where the release notes mention the fact that "some" copies are marked as promos in this way, but opinions differ on whether such notes are helpful or acceptable. The argument against is that for major-label releases, it almost universally goes without saying that some copies are gold-stamp promos. So it may be best to avoid mentioning it at all unless it's unusually noteworthy.

Undocumented decisions, traditions, advice

Topics in the Discogs wiki

Undocumented decisions covered at include:

  • Authority of staff (teo & nik especially)
  • Guidelines are not rigid rules; "as on release" is a principle, not a blanket rule
  • Cat# "none" is rarely allowed on multi-label releases; repeat cat#s as needed
  • Quotation marks around classical work nicknames are acceptable
  • Semi-generic side names can be headings
  • CD track durations can be off by 5 seconds before being considered an error
  • When measuring your own durations, there will always be a margin of error
  • Track positions for double-A-side releases use as-on-release side designations when different
  • Stars around track title on a 7" or 12" indicate the "plug" side
  • Single-sided release track positions must include side "A" indicator
  • Promo tag can be added to 7" or 12" releases with a designated "plug" side
  • How to handle retail editions made into promos by stamps, stickers, punches/cuts, etc.
  • Promo notice overlays don't turn retail releases into promos on Discogs (except Japanese CDs)
  • Releases with an empty space for numbering are to be considered Numbered even though they contain no number
  • Master Release submission notes are optional
  • Remix and reissue editions usually belong in same Master Release as original releases
  • Certain types of releases usually get their own Master Release
  • Partial re-recordings may or may not get their own Master Release
  • Don't change drafts which were merged or removed releases into different releases

Unedited notes

Work in progress, not vetted yet.

Undocumented Discogs decisions, traditions, and tips removing variant #s: reuse but don't renumber other variants: DtF agrees

URL as LCCN entity name: yes per nik

YH price codes

Reggae Versions

EI-voting an edit by a closed account will not result in a revert. It will say it's reverted, but the data remains unchanged; you must edit it yourself. This is a known issue and won't be fixed until the voting system is rewritten.

Songwriters & composers are often listed without specific roles. It is standard to infer the role Written-By when no role is mentioned on the release, or you can use Composed By for purely instrumental music in the Classical genre. More specific roles from external sources or common knowledge are usually forbidden. For example, if there are two names, it is standard to just use Written-By for both of them, even if you know that one should be Lyrics By and the other Composed By; otherwise, you venture far into entering credits which are not really on the release, and the release data can be confusing to collectors and vendors who are looking for the specific roles you entered.

Songwriters, publishers, and rights societies are often mentioned in combinations, without clear roles mentioned. Make an educated guess about the role of each entity, and pretend they are listed separately. Don't create artist or company entities for the combinations, except for collaborative songwriting entities as permitted by [g2.6.2] and [g2.6.4].

Written-By, Executive-Producer, Artwork By = preferred roles which link the artist names Written By, Executive Producer, Artwork = old roles which do not link the artist names

Featuring-type credits (e.g. Feat., With) in artists: For "Artist1 Feat. Artist2 - Title", enter both artists with "Feat." joiner as on release. As per [g1.3.1.a], enter a Featuring credit for Artist2.

Featuring credits in titles: For "Artist1 - Title feat. Artist2", as per [g1.3.1.a], you must enter a Featuring credit for Artist2. The credit should not be considered part of the title. Nevertheless, people do it different ways. Discussion: nik says so unresolved users say not part of title

The submission form used to improperly auto-capitalize the roles that were entered, so if you entered Written-By or Executive-Producer, it would end up in the database as Written-by and Executive-producer. Text in brackets after the role was also sometimes improperly capitalized. Now when you edit those releases, you will get a warning about the roles appearing to not match the credits list. You just need to capitalize the roles correctly as part of your edit. No need to mention it in the submission notes.

Capitalization variations in artist and label names are allowed, as long as they are not all-caps or all-lowercase (unless an exception has been made to the usual rule of capitalizing only the first letter of each word). ANVs are not allowed for this; just enter the desired capitalization. This is handy for artist names with two words combined in one. For example, Dede and DeDe both link to the same artist.

Durations printed on CD releases should not be corrected in the tracklist (as permitted by [g12.6.5]) unless the difference is at least 5 seconds. The reason is that printed durations often omit several seconds of silence between songs, while CD drives report the total duration of tracks including trailing silence.

Artist and label/entity names are case-insensitive, so in release data, you have the option of entering the value with whatever capitalization actually follows the submission guidelines. This may mean overriding an auto-suggested value, which will be whatever the artist/label/entity was first created as). It's OK either way.

When editing a master release (MR), this is the only place on Discogs where you have the option of leaving Submission Notes blank. For just adding one or two stray, unremarkable releases to the MR, that's fine, but if you are making major changes or doing something that people might not understand, then please mention why you are doing it. Use the Database forum to ask about anything major.

Reissues and remix editions usually belong in the same master release as the original singles, regardless of release date or variations in release titles, track versions, and B-sides. Likewise, albums released with different titles and track order in different regions usually belong with all the other editions of an album. There are some exceptions which normally do not go in the same MRs, though: album samplers; editions based on re-recordings (including live versions); double-A-side / back-to-back-hits types of reissue singles; and 4-song French 7" EPs from the 1950s & 1960s. If you're ever unsure where to draw the line, ask in the Database forum.

Total re-recordings usually belong in a separate Master Release, but partial re-recordings may or may not need to be separate; use the Database forum to discuss specific cases. It can be said that [g16.2.3] applies (if a recording belongs in multiple MRs, don't put it in any of them), but ultimately it comes down to whatever the users decide for a particular example.

Promo usually applies if common "not for sale" language appears:

[g1.4.4] says "Manufacturing variations should not be counted as a unique release", but until 2017, examples of manufacturing variations were not clearly defined. The definitions have also changed over time. Currently, manufacturing variations are differences that would normally be found within a production run. Such situations include:

  • most changes and additions to matrix-area codes due to molds being replaced over time
  • slight variations in vinyl coloration - prior to 2017, "translucent brown" vs. "black" vinyl was a topic of endless debate
  • slight variations in printed ink and paper colors
  • slight variations in the position of text relative to previously printed content/background art
  • minor differences in track boundaries or subcode content on CDs
  • changes from one generic/company sleeve design to another - (nik says so)
  • wrong/missing/duplicate labels applied to pressed media (prior to 2017 these were more often OK to consider separate releases)-

Situations which do usually warrant a separate submission include:

  • different musical content
  • any difference in artwork (text content, layout, typefaces) anywhere on the release, except in the matrix area
  • matrix-area codes which imply different data for non-release date fields, e.g. pressing plants, mastering engineers
  • SID codes which imply different release dates (see [g5.4]) or manufacturers. Inferring manufacturers from SID codes alone is discouraged, though, because manufacturers often keep using the same codes through name/ownership changes; see [g5.3].

For other situations, or if you are unsure, just ask in the forums.

Whether to use the Reissue or Repress tag depends on the guidelines for those tags, [g6.17.1] / [g6.17.2].

Although labels and companies are often kept separate, and we try to unify duplicate companies, LCCN entities can still be labels and companies at the same time. If what is normally a company role (e.g. copyright owner) is on the release as the name of a label, you must enter it as the label name, thus treating it not as a label but as an ambiguous entity. You aren't allowed to assume it's a reference to a company or make a reasonable guess as to the proper company entity to use, as you would if the name were only varied by punctuation or abbreviations. This makes it hard to describe an entity in its profile (it's a "label"/brand until one of these shows up). It also conflicts somewhat with the spirit of the guidelines that encourage finding the best existing entity and not creating entities for minor name variations, but it does make sense because we don't have LNVs like we do ANVs, and sometimes the ambiguous name is actually a deliberate reference to the label/brand rather than a company. Also, there are vague plans to make the label/company pages be divided into sections by role, which will alleviate some of clutter caused by this situation.

A downside is that if LNVs are implemented, companies like "Whatever Records Ltd." will get LNVs like "Whatever Records", so releases will be randomly filed under that entity rather than the ambiguous label-company entity.

SID codes are usually entered with IFPI in all caps, even if it's "ifpi" on the release, but the lowercase variant is actually allowed. What's not allowed is "iƒpi", using the florin character to represent a stylized letter "f".

SID codes are usually entered only in the SID-specific BAOI fields, but (similar to vinyl runout etchings) they can also be entered as part of the Matrix/Runout field.

In the format free text field (FTF), you can enter "CD1" and "CD2" for CD singles that were released in a sequence, but only if it actually says something like "CD 1 of 2" on the release; don't infer an FTF value from catalog numbers.

In addition to covering the preparation of special copies of audio recordings for release on a particular type of media, the 'Mastered At' LCCN role also applies to the initial stages of the vinyl record manufacturing process, except for the lacquer cutting, which is already covered by 'Lacquer Cut At'. So, when a credit is found or inferred for electroforming/processing/plating or the metalwork/manufacturing of molds (fathers, mothers, stampers), we are to just use Mastered At, for now.

The format free text field (FTF) can be used for indicating differences in pressing plants.

The often-overlooked [g13.1.5] (forbidding generic-artwork/"company" sleeves to be primary, and prohibiting plain sleeve images altogether) supplements [g13.8] (image order guidelines). So the preferred order for releases in company sleeves is: The center label with the most information The other side Generic-artwork/company sleeve front (with record in the sleeve, if sleeve is die-cut) Generic-artwork/company sleeve back (with record in the sleeve, if sleeve is die-cut)

For jewel case CDs, the primary image should be the "front cover" as represented by the front of the booklet or insert in the jewel case lid. However, the entire front of the jewel case can be used instead if it embodies a "continuation of the artwork". Japan-market releases with an obi are an example. The front-facing part of a J-card is preferable to the entire J-card, for a primary image.

A retail CD which has been screen-printed to mark it as a promo is eligible to be a separate release tagged as Promo. But a retail CD which has a semi-transparent overlay to mark it as a promo is not eligible; it falls under [g6.12.2], like other retail copies made into promos by adding a gold-stamp, sticker, hole punch, etc. nik says so re: edge cases and Japanese CDs with printing on the hub: more discussion: and recent discussion:

On Discogs, stickers do not make an item a unique release from an unstickered item. Stickers should still be mentioned (e.g. as appearing on "some copies") in release notes. Any catalog numbers only mentioned on the sticker should go in BAOI "Other" fields, unless the distributor is named on the sticker, in which case LCCN fields should be OK as long as there's a note of explanation.

This Side/That Side, Logo Side/Info Side, Here/There and the like are non-generic side names which may be entered as headings. The guidelines for headings ([g12.13.2] through [g12.13.5]) say a heading should be used for release text "descriptive of" tracks, but management has implied that it can merely be referring to them.

There are no guidelines for determining what durations are correct. Some differences are to be expected. For example, it's common for printed durations to only be for the musical content, not counting silent passages between songs, whereas CD players do include the silent passages when reporting track durations. Other considerations include how fractional seconds are rounded, analog playback speed variations when making your own measurements, uncertainty about where a fade-out ends when there's a lot of background noise, and printed durations intentionally omitting intros and fade-outs for the benefit of radio DJs.

There is no requirement that double-A-sided releases be entered with "A" and "AA" track positions. If sides are designated on the release, those designations must be used. When sides are not designated, no exceptions have ever been in the submission guidelines—"A" and "B" positions remain standard, even if both sides have the same content. If the sides aren't designated and the content differs, some effort must be made to ascertain which side to call side "A"; external sources should be consulted, including charts, official artist/label sites, promotional materials, related releases, and common sense. Effective May 2017, management said that A/B or A/AA is OK for mono/stereo or stereo/stereo promo singles with no other indications of a primary side.

Radio promo 7" releases sometimes have stars around a track title, designating the "plug" track that is intended to be promoted. The stars are not part of the titles. The stars can be used to determine which side is the "A" side.

Track positions for single-sided releases should still use sides—e.g., A1, A2, A3, etc., even though there's not going to be B1, B2, B3, etc.

Track positions for releases that have named sides, like This/That, Here/There, etc., should use headings with regular track positions like A/B. You shouldn't use This1, This2, That1, That2, etc., unless each track has its own side name mentioned.

The "Friends" in an artist named "[Artist] And Friends" should not be entered as an ANV of the artist. There's no consensus on how to handle it, and different situations may still call for different solutions, but nik's favored approach, as of early 2015, is to say the pairing is a group (a new artist with the "And Friends" as part of the group name) which then falls under [g2.11.1]—the artist is a member of this new group. However, nik is careful not to prescribe this as a solution, but rather just as an acknowledgment of it being the status quo, i.e. what has usually been done, to date. He previously said in some cases it may be better to enter it as just the one artist, and use the title and/or release notes to mention the "and Friends" part (and this has been done on some releases). He also suggested but did another alternative: the "Friends" could be said to be an ANV of a new artist, "Friends Of [Artist]", akin to how we handle "Chorus" by itself, but this conflicts with the "And His Orchestra" guidance.

Undocumented formatting code: [cite] ... it makes text render in a monospace font.

(need verification of this) Numeric suffixes in parentheses should match between artists and companies, i.e. when creating a company that corresponds to an artist with a suffix, make the company have the same suffix.

There is an undocumented exception to RSG §1.1.1: nik says "Releases of historical significance that cannot reasonably be held in ones possession should be able to be entered to the database on a case-by-case basis, as long as the information can be validated to a reasonable degree. This would usually mean starting a thread about it and citing reliable sources prior to doing the submission. These should be very rare cases."

The Format FTF can be used for concise identifiers of "non-obvious" differences like pressing plants, when it helps to distinguish releases.

Releases with embossed sleeves should be separate from those with unembossed sleeves.

Releases with glossy sleeves/booklets should be separate from those with non-glossy (matt aka matte) sleeves unless it's a manufacturing variation.

­· there's no support for differentiating based on generic inner sleeves

Human credits are normally forbidden in the notes, due to a clause buried in [g10.6] ("All credits for human roles must go in the credit section rather than the release notes"), but exceptions can be made when needed to qualify or provide context for what has been entered in the other fields, such as "Produced by ___ for ___". In fact, [g11.1.4], which forbids removal of such info from the notes, implies that this is already allowed.

Splits and hijacks:

When a release is edited in error to make it be a different release entirely, it is said to be "hijacked". nik has said that if the hijacked is noticed within a year, then it should be reverted; whoever has the different release should be told to submit it separately. But if more than 3 months goes by with no one noticing, then we are to at least consider letting the hijack stand. It may still be that undoing the hjijack is ideal even after 3 months, though; it depends on the situation.

No one owns the release data, so when resolving conflicts like this, users can take into consideration what the original submitter or image uploader has, but it's not an obligation. Users can always ask each other to undo edits and/or submit variations separately, in whatever way causes the least disruption to users with the release in their collections and seller inventories, even if that means the original submitter has to create a new submission for their copy.

Not every edit to make something a different release is a hijack, though. For example, sometimes, a user will begin a release "split" by adding edition or pressing-specific info or images to a release that was ambiguously representing multiple editions/pressings. The original submitter had one particular edition, of course, but maybe didn't enter enough data or images for it to represent their version specifically—and maybe didn't have the option to, under older Discogs rules which prohibited making release data too specific. + Ideally, after a split of an ambiguous release is begun, whoever has any different edition should complete the split by submitting their versions separately, and users should adjust their collections and seller inventories as needed. Of course, this doesn't happen because not everyone gets notifications of edits, users come and go, pressing-specific images get added without anyone noticing, etc. We just accept all of this is part of the inevitable evolution of release data, and deal with problems through discussion and edits on a case-by-case basis. Difficult cases should be asked about in the Database forum.

Maxi-Single appears on a lot of releases it shouldn't, due to changing standards. Initially, for Electronic submissions, there was a guideline that said a single with a certain number of tracks should be tagged as a CD5". An update to the database in 2006 or 2007 changed that format to CD, Maxi-Single. The current guidelines for the use of tags like Single, Maxi-Single, etc. came later. (nik mentions the update)

For image order purposes, the "front cover" and primary image for a CD in a jewel case is normally the front of the booklet or insert only, not the front of the jewel case. Notable exception: Japan-market CDs with obi.