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  #1  
Old Jan 8, 2008, 10:10 AM
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Default Labels, companies, publishers and distributors: a discussion

The publisher database is almost finished, so it's time to discuss how we're going to fill it up.

The term 'publisher' on this site is more or less equivalent to 'label', and 'label' in the music business is akin to 'brand'. In a simple and ideal world each publisher label will have their own set of catalogue stems or identifiers and you can quickly and painlessly match them up with each other.

Hold up! Record companies are hierarchical beasts, and the major ones almost never release under a unified label. Instead they segregate releases by sublabels or imprints according to genre or the media format of the related property (there are plenty of other factors, but this is the classical scenario). For example, Geneon Entertainment releases anime-related albums under RONDO ROBE, and King Records does likewise under Star Child. For a more classic example, Alfa Records released game music under the label G.M.O. (after predecessor YEN Records).

How do we tell which is actual label? For one, you could look at the album scan. Here's one of Sega Game Music Vol.1 (28XA-107):



Alfa Records, the parent company, is displayed prominently at the centre bottom, but notice that the logo on the obi is actually G.M.O. That's the publisher the album should actually be filed under*. As for the inevitable questions asking why we shouldn't just keep things simple and file everything under the parent label, note that other major cataloguing sites like http://www.discogs.com/ specify publishers to sublabel level, so for us to do otherwise would be a lowering of standards.

As you may have noticed, catalogue stems are not sufficient identifiers for sublabels. Both YEN Records and G.M.O. were under Alfa, but YEN had its own stems (YLR, YLC) while G.M.O. did not (their albums shared the ALR, ALC stems with the parent label). This gets even more complicated when you consider the role of distributors.

King Records is a major distributor for other companies, including Konami Music Entertainment and F.I.X. Records. The catalogue stems for these releases (KICA, KICM) are King's, but the publishers printed on the obi are the respective original companies. This is also why such albums sometimes have two different catalogue numbers -- one of them is the internal publisher catalogue. Examples: Tokimeki Memorial Sound Collection, KICA-7644 = LC095 (Konami), and AQUAPLUS VOCAL COLLECTION Vol.1, KICA-1421 = FA027 (F.I.X.). By the way, F.I.X. Records is a trademark of AQUAPLUS, so there are actually three different entities involved here. Both Konami and AQUAPLUS have released albums without the involvement of King Records (and F.I.X.!), so the distinction is important.

That was pretty bloody confusing, so a quick summary of the previous paragraph:

Catalogue stem for a Konami album distributed by King Records: KICA (internal: LC)
Catalogue stem for a self-distributed Konami album: LC
Catalogue stem for an AQUAPLUS album published by F.I.X. Records and distributed by King Records: KICA (internal: FA)
Catalogue stem for a self-distributed AQUAPLUS album: APCD
(Note that AQUAPLUS is actually a software publisher, not a music label)

Unfortunately the choice of catalogue stem can be somewhat arbitrary, since Lantis Records albums distributed by King Records retain their LACA/LACM stems, while Five Records albums distributed by Geneon Entertainment have a VGCD stem (Geneon normally has GNCA). And then there's the special case of the Pony Canyon / Scitron team up where both were listed as publishers for a run of PCCB albums, until Scitron split and got their own stem (SCDC)**.

So how do you tell which is the actual publisher without the aid of an album scan? You can do a Google search. Some Japanese vendor or catalogue sites specify 発売元 (publisher) and 販売元 (distributor), so include those terms in your search. Keep in mind though that some of them may not distinguish between sublabels and parent company either!

Finally, to give you an example overview of all the different companies that may be involved in music publishing for a particular IP (intellectual property) or series, here's the Utawarerumono discography (a game produced by Leaf, which is a division of AQUAPLUS). A summary of that page:

Their game-related albums are published by F.I.X. Records and distributed by King Records;
Their anime-related albums are published by Lantis Records and distributed by King Records;
Their radio albums are published by IMAGICA and distributed by VAP + Tablier Communications.



Keep the nature of these relationships in mind once the publisher database is ready for discography linking. Also, publisher will always take precedence over distributor. An album should not have a linked distributor without a linked publisher; and if the publisher is the same as the distributor, there is no need to specify the latter. If you don't know the distributor, that's fine, just the publisher is enough.

By the way, this discussion has entirely been about major Japanese record labels; life should presumably be much simpler when it comes to doujins and enclosures, since the publishing process is more direct. I'm not too familiar with Western releases, so anyone who's knowledgeable on that aspect is welcome to add to this thread.




* If you look back at the scan of Sega Game Music Vol.1, in the fine print on the obi you can see that the distributor is Warner-Pioneer, the precursor to Warner Music Japan.
** Scitron is now known as Happinet, but the catalogue stems are unchanged.
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  #2  
Old Jan 8, 2008, 01:32 PM
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It sounds like you got this stuff down pat. I'm looking forward to the complete implementation.
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  #3  
Old Jan 9, 2008, 04:07 AM
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This seems a lot more complicated than I initially figured it would be. I had no idea that many of the "Producers" we've been using are actually only partially correct (and not the most correct ones to use.) This is going to take some effort to get this right for each album.

Also, would it pay to make some kind of hierarchical data structure, so that the G.M.O Records organization has a "is part of" relationship with the Alfa Records organization?
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  #4  
Old Jan 9, 2008, 09:16 AM
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Yeah, I've already made preparations for that. There'll be a relationship table for linking entries in the organization table to each other.
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  #5  
Old Jun 13, 2009, 12:27 PM
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The org (label) pages have undergone some improvements. Probably the most important change is that trusted editors and staff can now upload a logo to be displayed on the label's page. In the future, we should be able to extend this to public submission, along with the basic data edits.
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  #6  
Old Jun 14, 2009, 09:11 AM
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Nice, I've been wanting to add logos for a looooong time.
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  #7  
Old Jun 14, 2009, 10:19 AM
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Will it be possible (or is it already?) for Staff/Trusted Editors to add new entries (labels, publishers, etc)?
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  #8  
Old Jun 14, 2009, 10:22 AM
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You guys already can. Just click on the "+" sign when you hover over the label icon.
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  #9  
Old Jun 14, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Oh right, for some reason I overlooked the +'s =)
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  #10  
Old Feb 13, 2010, 03:35 PM
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Do we hyphenate the catalog stem and number even when a hyphen isn't there, or should we stick to the official form on the booklets and discs? I'm currently working on those LWEX stems, and based on the scans, they don't seem to have a hyphen.
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  #11  
Old Feb 13, 2010, 04:40 PM
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It's a good question to be discussed. Btw, mostly (if not all) KICA albums hasn't hyphen...
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  #12  
Old Feb 13, 2010, 05:31 PM
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I've wondered about this myself, submissions without hyphens seem to have them added often (by admins no less, for instance here.) I also recall some album where the only edits listed were the hyphen being removed, and then another edit dated a year after the first restoring the hyphen (both by admins, actually.) So maybe hyphenating is the unspoken policy? I'm certainly not opposed to it, I like to preserve information as it's given by the artist/label but in this case it's nice to keep things uniform.
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  #13  
Old Feb 13, 2010, 07:15 PM
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I think the most important thing is keeping the style consistent for sorting, even if they are a bit inconsistent in how they print the number on the obi. I don't think the hyphen is necessary if it's not routinely used, but to be consistent all of the LC* or LWEX* albums would need to be edited.

Looking on my shelf, some NACL, AZCA, KICA (King Records distribution) and SVWC don't use the hyphen on the Obi either. In general though, most catalog numbers have a stem and a number. An argument can also be made that rest of the number -- spaces, dashes -- is just stylistic. There is evidence that what's printed on the case is not always how it appears in a company's other literature.

KICA should keep its hyphen because King Records considers catalog numbers to have hyphens. I think that may be the case with most of these companies. LWEX and LC could be exceptions, but it will take some investigating to find out. Note also that, if most other sites use a different form of the catalog numbers, whether that be hyphenated or not, then our album pages won't come up in the searches, unless we start listing permutations of catalog numbers.
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  #14  
Old Feb 13, 2010, 07:29 PM
Ira Ira is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Secret Squirrel View Post
LWEX and LC could be exceptions, but it will take some investigating to find out.
Such as this?
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  #15  
Old Feb 14, 2010, 05:15 AM
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Uh...I think it's a really difficult matter. Personally, I'm a bit less for omitting the hyphens after I realize one can argue that we should have to repeat a number after the tilde for some stems like LC because Konami does so on both official site and obi, and that may go over the limit of inconsistency a database can allow... Then again, if we go for consistency, it means we should unify the catalog numbers and start to correct all the albums that still lacks hyphens.
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  #16  
Old Mar 3, 2010, 12:05 PM
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Back on topics, could I get any more tips on linking publishers and distributors?

It is Avex Marketing that is actually printed as the publisher (and distributor) on the Obis of the some albums where we regard avex trax as the publisher. Is avex trax an imprint like this?

http://vgmdb.net/db/covers.php?do=view&cover=38392
http://vgmdb.net/db/covers.php?do=view&cover=64167
http://vgmdb.net/db/covers.php?do=view&cover=65162
http://vgmdb.net/db/covers.php?do=view&cover=71947
http://vgmdb.net/db/covers.php?do=view&cover=72634
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  #17  
Old Mar 3, 2010, 05:07 PM
Ira Ira is offline
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If avex trax is printed I'd say you should probably go with avex trax, avex trax is another imprint of the same parent company (Avex Group.)
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  #18  
Old Mar 3, 2010, 07:09 PM
Cedille Cedille is offline
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I'd go with avex trax, but what I don't understand is which way we should go with. The publisher or the imprint? Sorry in advance if it's yet another silly question from me.

Maybe I'm devoid of understanding as usual, but I have a similar issue with Hentai game companies. Often, only the name/logo of one Hentai brand is printed on the scan, but I assume the actual publication and distribution is handled by the company which the brand is under the umbrella of, because (correct me if I'm wrong) Hentai game brands are just in-house studios or such so I'm not sure I call it as the publisher. We currently treat Leaf as the publisher of the LFCD- albums, but their official site states those albums are indeed both published and distributed by Aquaplus. So I wonder it would be better to treat Leaf and Aquaplus as the imprint and the publisher, respectively, but I could be just wrong, as the Leaf/Aquaplus thing was already mentioned in the OP.
Quote:
イベント出展物の再販です。お求めは ap store で。
発売・販売:株式会社アクアプラス
So any tip?
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  #19  
Old Mar 3, 2010, 07:58 PM
Ira Ira is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cedille View Post
I'd go with avex trax, but what I don't understand is which way we should go with. The publisher or the imprint? Sorry in advance if it's yet another silly question from me.

Maybe I'm devoid of understanding as usual, but I have a similar issue with Hentai game companies. Often, only the name/logo of one Hentai brand is printed on the scan, but I assume the actual publication and distribution is handled by the company which the brand is under the umbrella of, because (correct me if I'm wrong) Hentai game brands are just in-house studios or such so I'm not sure I call it as the publisher. We currently treat Leaf as the publisher of the LFCD- albums, but their official site states those albums are indeed both published and distributed by Aquaplus. So I wonder it would be better to treat Leaf and Aquaplus as the imprint and the publisher, respectively, but I could be just wrong, as the Leaf/Aquaplus thing was already mentioned in the OP.


So any tip?
avex trax is already listed as an imprint of Avex Group, albums released under the avex trax name should be linked to avex trax. Leaf is a brand of Aquaplus so they should probably be treated as an imprint (but there's currently no organization entry for Aquaplus.) Albums released under the name of an imprint should be linked to that imprint, even if they're technically published by the parent company (they are after all the same entity.) At least, that's how I see it.
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  #20  
Old Mar 3, 2010, 08:08 PM
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The way the publisher field display works currently:

Publisher is mandatory for a link to show up. If you link only an imprint or a distributor (with no publisher) it won't show. (IIRC)

It's not mandatory to link an imprint-type organization as an imprint, you can still link them under a publisher role if it applies.

In all cases we should always try to match whatever is printed, the optimum configuration is something like "Leaf (imprint) / AQUAPLUS (publisher)" but if it's an enclosure CD with only the Leaf logo (and AQUAPLUS is not present anywhere), just link it as "Leaf (publisher)". Organization hierarchies change over time, so always double-check.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cedille View Post
We currently treat Leaf as the publisher of the LFCD- albums, but their official site states those albums are indeed both published and distributed by Aquaplus. So I wonder it would be better to treat Leaf and Aquaplus as the imprint and the publisher, respectively, but I could be just wrong, as the Leaf/Aquaplus thing was already mentioned in the OP.(
In this case, yeah, Leaf is the imprint and AQUAPLUS is the publisher. There's a section of the Leaf catalogue that doesn't fall under F.I.X. Records, I think.
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  #21  
Old Mar 4, 2010, 03:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ira View Post
Albums released under the name of an imprint should be linked to that imprint, even if they're technically published by the parent company (they are after all the same entity.)
Does this mean we should normally treat the imprint as the publisher, not as the imprint, even if it's technically published by the parent company? (not to object to it, but to confirm what you mean).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigablah View Post
It's not mandatory to link an imprint-type organization as an imprint, you can still link them under a publisher role if it applies.

In all cases we should always try to match whatever is printed
So if we have info on who's the actual publisher and VGMdb has the organization entry of it, should we try to fix it for accuracy? (in this case, to relink avex trax as the imprint, at least in some albums we have the scan to back up)
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  #22  
Old Mar 4, 2010, 03:20 AM
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Go ahead, by all means.

If an album has an imprint label, but the parent company is clearly denoted as the publisher, use the "Label (Imprint) / Parent Company (Publisher)" configuration. That way they're both linked and everyone's happy.
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  #23  
Old Mar 4, 2010, 04:14 AM
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I just fixed some avex trax albums that had scans, but maybe we need U-Office and Aqua as the former organizations of Aquaplus for Leaf's older releases, and this kind of anal-picking might not be something so productive for some people (I'll be willing to do, if the ultimate goal of VGMdb is to provide information accurately).

Last edited by Cedille; Mar 4, 2010 at 04:44 AM.
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  #24  
Old Mar 4, 2010, 05:00 AM
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Nothing stopping you, as long as the information is accurate.
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  #25  
Old Apr 21, 2011, 04:51 AM
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Could "label" in English naturally represent "companies" as well as mere brands? I feel odd to see VGMdb classify some organizations as "Label/Imprint" that would normally be called record companies, and it results in a couple labels' parents being also labels (Lantis)... sounds a bit weird to me.

It would make sense to create more organization types, namely "Music publisher / Record Company", considering we already have "Game Company" or "Entertainment Company". So that we can adopt [Label/Imprint] / [Company], instead of [Label/Imprint] / [Label/Imprint]. The latter would works for cases like avextrax or Cutting Edge, if my understand below is right.

Avex Entertainment (Company) > avextrax (label) > Sonic Groove (label)
Avex Entertainment (Company) > Cutting Edge (label) > motorod (label)
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  #26  
Old Jun 9, 2012, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gigablah View Post
The way the publisher field display works currently:

Publisher is mandatory for a link to show up. If you link only an imprint or a distributor (with no publisher) it won't show. (IIRC)
Linking 2 pages of bandcamp albums (and 7 more pages to go lol) got me wondering: any change in the works there?

Such stuff is bound to happen with bandcamp (distributor) because publisher is almost always the composer, so no publisher linking there, and bandcamp isn't clickable even though it's linked...
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  #27  
Old Jun 9, 2012, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Efendija View Post
bandcamp (distributor) because publisher is almost always the composer, so no publisher linking there, and bandcamp isn't clickable even though it's linked...
That's why i haven't bothered to link the massive Bandcamp albums to the distributor.
We can't see the link of the distributor if the publisher is not linked either (which will happen very rarely with bandcamp releases).

Also, if you link a publisher and not the distributor, the distributor is not shown anymore in the album entry.
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  #28  
Old Jun 9, 2012, 04:34 PM
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I got that covered, linked around 100 bandcamp releases so far, I'll finish it in not so distant future

I can imagine changes to the database are everything but simple, especially when Gigablah and Secret Squirrel are doing 99% of the work...
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  #29  
Old Jun 10, 2012, 05:54 AM
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I think this is a solvable problem. I'll take a look at the code tonight.
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  #30  
Old Jun 10, 2012, 08:51 AM
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You could make it work like the artist linking system. It has a column for "alias", that's what the organization links are lacking. With an alias, you could make the ID optional (thus unlinked organizations).
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