Style / Relationships

Status: This is an official style guideline.

This page outlines general guidelines that should be followed when adding relationships. Many relationships also have their own guidelines which, should they conflict, supersede the ones on this page.

For relationships which link an entity to a URL, see the URL guidelines as well.

For assistance in determining the correct relationship types to use when describing compiling, DJ mixing, mastering, mixing, remastering, remixing and sampling, please refer to Mix Terminology.

Crediting an artist's role at the track vs. the release level

An artist's role on a song or album can be noted at multiple levels:

  1. If the relationship is applicable to all tracks on a release, apply it to every work or recording on the release.
  2. If the relationship applies to only a few tracks, and you know which ones, apply it only to those works or recordings.
  3. If you are unsure which tracks a relationship applies to, put it at release level. A basic effort to determine to which tracks the relationship is applicable is appreciated.
  4. If the credit is release level, and does not apply on a track by track basis (e.g. graphic design for the album's cover), then apply the relationship to the release, not the tracks.

If you find a release which has release level relationships, and you know which tracks the relationships apply to, please fix them.

Personal and business relationships

It is not part of MusicBrainz' mission to capture all the aspects of the personal life of artists nor the economic life of the recording industry.

A person should not be added to the database only to allow a link to indicate that they went out with, were married to, or were related to an artist. The only exception is when a non-musical person can be connected to two or more artists, allowing those artists to indirectly be linked together.

Label entries should not be added solely to represent investors, share-holders, etc. Relationship types which would represent fine-grained ownership details (or the entire economic macrocosm) have not been created, and the existing relationship types should not be misused for the purpose.

While proposals for new relationships are always welcomed by the community, be forewarned that proposals which would add relationship types to allow tracking finer-grained personal details or company or economic details will face a greater degree of scrutiny.

Prefer Specific Relationship Types

You should try to make the relationship type as specific as possible. This means that you should avoid the generic types if:

  • the liner or another source specifies which of the subtypes apply, or
  • you can easily deduce which of the subtypes apply.

In these cases, you should use the specific relationship types, and omit a relationship of the generic type. If you feel the generic type is more appropriate (for example, if the evidence provides conflicting information, or if no specific information is available), then add your reasons and justification to the edit note and an annotation. This will help voters confirm your analysis and will make sure other editors are aware of the background when doing later edits.

Generic Types

Here is a list of "generic types", and examples of preferred specific types:

  • Arranger: prefer "instrument arranger", "vocal arranger" and/or "orchestrator".
  • Engineer: prefer the subtypes of engineer ("audio", "mastering", "sound", "mix", "recording", "programming", "editor", "balance").
  • Performer: prefer the subtypes "instruments" and/or "vocal", "performing orchestra", "conductor", "chorus master", "concertmaster".


Title Style
Special Cases/Misc.