Published on September 30th, 2014 | by inFormal

0 Category Guidelines – Release type

Category guidelines – Release types

You may have noticed that on artist pages, uploads are organized by release type—e.g. albums, EPs, anthologies, compilations, etc. all have their own distinct categories. Every What.CD user can help out and set the correct release type for all albums that are listed as “Unknown”.

If you are unsure how a particular release should be categorized, read on.


An album, perhaps better defined as a “Long Play” (LP) release, generally consists of previously unreleased material. This includes album re-issues, with or without bonus tracks.


A soundtrack is the musical score to a movie, TV series, stage show, computer game etc. In the specific case of computer games, a game CD with audio tracks should be classified as a soundtrack.


An EP is a so-called “Extended Play” release and often contains the letters EP in the title. Generally an EP will be shorter than a full length release (an LP or “Long Play” album) and the tracks are usually exclusive to the EP, in other words the tracks don’t come from a previously issued release. EP is fairly difficult to define; usually it should only be assumed that a release is an EP if the artist defines it as such.


An anthology is a group of songs/tracks from various sources combined into a “best of” or retrospective release, where all songs/tracks are performed by the same artist. Anthologies can either be a release containing songs found on previous releases, releases consisting of an overview of the artist’s work, or a set of previously released albums in their original form (i.e. same track order, etc) that now have been packaged together. This category does not include previous albums that have been re-released with a bonus disc or bonus tracks; those should be classified as albums.


A compilation is a collection of tracks performed by various artists. Compilations are usually based on a theme (“Songs for Lovers”), a particular year (“The Hits of 1998″), or some other kind of grouping (“Songs from the Sahara”, the “Café del Mar” series, etc).
The following releases are not generally considered to be compilations:

  • a tribute release containing covers of a particular artist’s work;
  • a classical release containing new recordings of a classical artist’s work.

Note that there is a certain amount of crossover between the definition of a compilation and other types of release. For example, a various artists soundtrack could be considered to be a compilation. In general, the compilation release type is superseded by other release types (e.g. soundtrack and anthology).

DJ Mix

The “DJ Mix” release type should only be used when the entire release was mixed by a DJ or DJ-like figure.

For example, for albums that were released by a DJ, such as this releaseArmin van Buuren should be listed as a “Main” artist, not “DJ / Compiler”, and the release type should be “Artist”.

For an example of an actual DJ Mix, review this example: Glovecats & Kid Kenobi – Dubstep Invasion [2010] [DJ Mix]
For the aforementioned torrent, the artists Kid Kenobi and Glovecats should have the artist type “DJ / Compiler” and the release type should be “DJ Mix”.

If you are unsure whether a release was mixed by a DJ or not, Discogs is often useful in making a determination. TheDiscogs link for the above example states “Format: 2 × CD, Compilation, Mixed”, which indicates that the release should be of type “DJ Mix” instead of “Compilation”. If online research turns up little, you can rely on the wording of the release title. Typically, any release with “Mixed By Kid Kenobi & Glovecats” in its title should be categorized as a “DJ Mix”.


A single has different definitions depending on the market it is released for.

  • In the US market, a single typically has one main song and possibly a handful of additional tracks or remixes of the main track; the single is usually named after its main song. It is primarily released to get radio play and to promote sales.
  • The European and Australian market is similar to the US market. However singles are often released as a two disc set, with each disc sold separately. They sometimes have a longer version of the single (often combining the tracks from the two disc version) which is very similar to the US style single, and this is referred to as a ‘maxi-single’. (In some cases the maxi-single is longer than the release the single comes from!)
  • The Japanese market is much more single driven. The defining factor is typically the length of the single and the price it is sold at. Until 1995, singles would often be released on a mini-CD (a small CD, 8 cm in diameter.) Circa 1995 the 8 cm single was phased out, and the standard 12 cm CD single is more common now; generally re-releases of singles from pre-1995 will be released on the 12 cm format, even if they were originally released on the 8 cm format. Japanese singles often come with instrumental versions of the songs and also have European-style maxi-singles, with remixed versions of the tracks. Sometimes a maxi-single will have more tracks than an EP, but as it’s all alternate versions of the same two or three songs, it is classified as a single.
  • There is another variations of the single, a so-called “split single” where songs by two different artists are released on one disc, typically vinyl.

Note: The term “B-side” originates from the era when singles were released on 7 inch (or 12 inch) vinyl with one or two songs on each side. Side A is the track that the single is named after, and the other side – side B, or the flip side – would contain a bonus song.

Live Album

An officially released live recording. The primary difference between a “Live Album” and a “Concert Recording” is the amount of post-processing and marketing that go into a “Live Album” that are notably lacking with a typical “Concert Recording”.

Note: Live shows made available digitally through official sources like, or ‘instant releases’ available for sale immediately following concerts should be uploaded under “Concert Recordings”.


A release that primarily contains remixed material. Whether the remixes are done by the artist him-/her-/themselves or by others, is irrelevant. The release is still a remix of this artist’s work. If the remixes are done by others, they should be listed as separate artists.


A release of an audio recording of a performance that has not been officially released by the artist, or under other legal authority. This includes commercially released CDs pressed on bootleg labels such as Crystal Cat, as well as freely traded recordings within the taping community – whether or not the artist gives permission for taping.


An interview release contains an interview, generally with an artist.


A mixtape (or mixed tape) is a compilation of songs/tracks recorded in a specific order, which usually reflects the musical tastes of its compiler. It can range from a casually selected list of favorite songs, to a conceptual mix of songs linked by a theme or mood, to a highly personal statement tailored to the tape’s intended recipient.


A release that isn’t categorized yet or that doesn’t fit in any other categories.

When you are unsure how to categorize a specific release, look on the web to see whether you can find a (semi-)official discography of the artist. Often, Discogs and MusicBrainz have useful information. When that is of no avail, please ask in the IRC channel (preferably), or in the IRC channel, or in the Help forum.

Concert Recording

An officially released, live music recording that doesn’t qualify as a fully fledged “live album”. This release type is designed for artists that frequently post official soundboards of their live performances, such as PhishUmphrey’s McGee et al.

Unofficial soundboard recordings should be classified as “bootlegs”.


A demo is a recording which the artist releases themselves to document sketches of songs with a general intent to re-record the material to be re-released later on a different, more-public release that’s more probably sold. Sometimes demos are given away to fans when a band is starting out, but the intent is more to document the music and get it out there.

Demos are almost always explicitly labeled as a demo.

Live Music Clarification

There are three primary types of live music recordings in circulation:

  1. Live albums, which typically undergo significant post-processing and have a large marketing push behind the release
  2. Regular concert recordings, which are primarily targeted at bands which post a recording of every show they play
  3. Bootleg recordings, which are often in a gray area surrounding their lineage, or are released by an artist’s “fan club”, typically without endorsement by the artist.

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