About Release Dates

The Release Date of an album is a crucial metadata. Although it seems like a simple data, it is not, and is often misunderstood and misused.

Let’s have a closer look, and try to understand what is behind a Release Date of a music recording.

Physical Release Date: This is usually the oldest date a recording can have, back in the physical age. It is when the album / track became available to the public on a physical medium (i.e. not the recording date)

Digital Release Date or Release Date: This is when the same track / album became legally available in the download / streaming industry. One of the oldest platforms is the iTunes Store back in 2001.

Original Release Date: This is the date of a track / album that is at the origin of the current track / album. This is useful when the current version is a Deluxe or a Remaster for instance. This is what DDEX says about Original Release Date:

If the album is re-mastered then the ReleaseDate of the re-mastered album would differ from the OriginalReleaseDate of the original album

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How to differentiate homonym artists

A common problem on platforms is that several artists can legitimately have the exact same name. In some other cases, questionable providers and artists will deliver a famous artist name to get a bigger attention from the platform audience.

These cases lead to one problem to resolve on the platform side: how to differentiate them. If they are not differentiated, the artist page and discography will be totally mixed up:

  • Correct albums may end up in another artist page
  • Wrong albums may appear in an artist discography
The problem, “Nirvana” is just an example used in this post, as well as the artist IDS (313 and 887)


First of all, the artist name is not enough to identify an artist uniquely. Another information is needed. Here are a few options, from a platform point of view.

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Classical Metadata: Track Titles

Classical music highly relies on works that are played over and over again and again. These masterworks are considered as if, and will be played and recorded over and over again. The oldest recordings are from the early 20th century (Enrico Caruso being the earliest famous recorded tenor).

A classical work doesn’t have a proper title. It’s title is thus created from several elements. Let’s dissect this full example:

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Using fingerprint to link tracks together

You have many reasons to link to different files representing the exact same song in a music catalog:

  • You don’t want to hear it multiple times in a short amount of time
  • You want to find one song when looking for it, not a collection of the same song
  • You want to gather the related metadata for that same song (different languages, detailed artists…)
  • You want to know the actual number of different songs in the catalog, with no duplicates
  • You want to know who listened to song X, and not file X, file Y and file Z of the same song

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