Go Back   VGMdb Forums > VGMdb Site Related > Questions and Comments
Register FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old Jan 19, 2021, 02:06 PM
Robin's Avatar
Robin Robin is offline
Trusted Editor
Join Date: Jul 2019
Location: France
Posts: 236
Default [Suggestion] New "Official/Fanwork" Category

I've been discussing/debating this on Discord with a few other members/admins, but I might have a controversial idea/suggestion: I think we need a (near) total rework of the use of the "Doujin/Indie" category in album submissions.

Before I go in details about my request and specific suggestions, I'm gonna make a quick recap of what kind of content we've seen and deemed as Doujin on the website. As many people here may know, doujin subculture sparks all kinds of posslbe different album additions to VGMDb:
-Arrangement & Vocal Fan Arrange Albums [Example 1] - [Example 2]
-Original Work based on Existing Products [Example 1] - [Example 2]
-Soundtracks of Fangames [Example 1] (not japanese, but we'll get to that later) - [Example 2]
-Soundtracks of Original Games [Example 1] - [Example 2]
-Original Work [Example 1] - [Example 2]

And that's just for the Japan side of things. Since the popularization of the internet, and with the help of online music platforms, any artist is able to self publish their games as well as their soundtracks. Although doujin culture and self published work have been active and present for more than two decades in japan now, actual self published games in the west started getting a reputation and coverage a bit later on. With that came the ability for remixers and arrangers to publish their own arrange albums, and game soundtracks of indie games too. Those have been on VGMDB for a very long time too, and from what I can see, even before doujin music. And most of those said self-published arrange albums are indeed under the "Doujin/Indie" label. To me, that's what it should be used for.

It seems that until now, the "Doujin/Indie" classification was mainly introduced as an easier way to filter out fan-arrange albums and other similar albums during album searched on the website for many people. And it worked pretty well, I guess. All albums under this label show up in orange, so they're easy to reckognize too. However there's an issue. And that issue is self published, digital soundtracks of independant videogames. I've seen a bunch of albums (mostly the free ones) that are under the Doujin/Indie type, but I've also seen tons of other that are just classified under commercial. It's very inconsistent, and it seems most people, especially non-staff, doesn't understand or know how they should classify such content.

Like I said, the Doujin/Indie category was meant as a way to apparently filter out "fanworks" when people want to search for official soundtracks. Meaning that all of the actual soundtracks of doujin games and independant games ARE gonna be filtered out, when the point of it was supposed to mostly get rid of unofficial arrange/remix albums originally. And that's why, over the years, a bunch of indie game soundtracks are now under commercial, so that they don't get filtered out. You can see the problem and inconsistency when we use this system: Instead of using the category as an actual doujin/indie classification, we are using it as a way to classify official content from unofficial. Yet, we still have tons of doujin albums still under that category (and for good reason), even when a lot of albums under this category are actual, official soundtracks despite the fact that they're doujin/indie. So what's the truth and consistency of our methods for picking out wether a release should be commercial or doujin/indie? I often see new releases from self published bandcamp soundtracks of indie games added to VGMDB, and most people seem to add them as Doujin/Idnie, and yet a lot of the time those will be moved from that to commercial once they get accepted. And even then, it seems to vary to very confusing extents...

Why not drop the indie and just use this for doujin releases?
That would mean we need to go back to a lot of entries since i'm sure there's at least hundreds of indie game soundtracks, and mostly fan-arrange albums, that are under this category. Moreover, why should we seperate doujin from independant? Those two philosophies are mostly identical. It's stupid and pointless to try and say they're different, it'd be like making a different category between western animation and japanese anime. Everyone knows why it'd be a terrible and useless idea, and would just spark confusion, debates, and constant edits all the time.

How can we make this less confusing, then?
I think we need to use the category as its name implies. Doujin/Indie would imply that the album would need to either fit under the meanings of either "Doujin" or "Indie".

So, when it comes to "Doujin" type albums, I think it's pretty straightforward. If the album is self published by an established doujin music circle, or/and published during a convention such as Comic Market/Reitaisai/etc that'd be more than enough information to classify those as "Doujin/Indie". Fangames are also pretty straightforward, wether they're "doujin" or western. Doesn't matter wether they're arrangement of existing IPs, official, unofficial or nah. Overthinking about the "official" nature of something doesn't matter since what we're classifying here is wether the album release is doujin or indie. Simple as that.

What might make this more complicated are western, digital soundtracks of indie games. A lot of indie game soundtrack would remain under the "Commercial" type, since a big lot of those are actually commercialized and sold by third party publishers, like Materia Collective for example. I think as long as there's a clear, distinct, commercial publisher, the release should be claimed as commercial. However (and that's the case for a LOT of albums), if the album was self published by the composer(s) or developers by themselves, on a free of use platform like Bandcamp, itch, without going through a publisher, that's when it should retain the Doujin/Indie type. I think basing this on barcode is not a bad idea either. That's what we do for CDs, right? So if a release had a simultaneous, original release on mainstream streaming platforms like iTunes, which, to my knowledge, automatically makes this release under a certain barcode. Those would be commercial too, except if they were added there later than the original release of the soundtrack. (Most doujin music gets released on platforms like iTunes later on all the time, yet those remain doujin.)

Hell, even for Japanese games that are independant, there's still a contradictory issue sometimes. Here's an example: The case of Touhou Luna Nights. The game itself is an independant, japanese & unofficial fangame (the fact that it's sold commercially doesn't actually matter, but I don't think there's many if any popular IP that's free to be sold so long as it follows regulations). Yet, the soundtrack is classified as commercial. I think that's a problem. (One could argue that the game being published by Playism would make this a non-independant release, but I think what matters here remains the fact that it's not an official publication related to the Touhou Project Series, rather than just taking in fact wether the game is official or not. Yet this is classified as commercial under our current system). If this album was to be released under this new system, there wouldn't be much issues to think of, and it would also remain commercial. Now, I'm going to introduce that system in just in a second:

Then how do we seperate official releases from unofficial?
"Simple". We use a new feature in submissions. Introducing your new friend:

Official: Would be used for any album release representing mentionned product officially by its official rights holders, in its entirety.
Fanwork: Would be used for any album representing featured products in its entirety.
Partial: Would be used for any kind of "else" value. An album containing both fan arrange & original work would go there, for example. I think all fangame soundtracks should be in the "partial" category, wether they reprise compositions from the original series or not. One could argue that it's an "official" soundtrack of the fangame (and it would be), but one could also argue that it's simply "Fanwork", since it's still nothing but a fangame. In that weird specific case, it'd be a half breef between an official release and fanwork. Making those go in partial would avoid a lot of potential headache.

'k then, what about older entries? what's gonna happent to those?
Ideally: If the feature gets implemented, all older entries would be automatically assigned to one of the three categories, based on some factors:
-If the product is under the doujin/indie category, and only contains featured composers and no original composers, it would fall in the "Fanwork" category.
-If the product is under the doujin/indie category, and contains both featured composers & original composers, it would move to the "Partial" category.
-If the product is under the doujin/indie category, and only contains original composers, it would move to the "Official" category.*
*Limitation: That would mean that Original Work based on Existing Products would be under "official". Trying to think of a better way to proceed for that one...

Chaotic option:
All doujin/indie albums would go under the "Partial" or "Fanwork" category and remain as such until every of those albums are treated through manually. Maybe if it detects the presence of original composers, it could move to partial insted...?

Please feel free to tell me what you'd think of this system or suggest ideas to improve on it, specially for dealing with older entries.

Last edited by Robin; Jan 19, 2021 at 02:11 PM.
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
HMCD-3: Hatsune Miku "Magical Mirai 2015" Official Album Secret Squirrel Album Discussions 0 Apr 5, 2020 12:34 PM
HR-05: CYBER TROOPERS VIRTUAL-ON "MARZ" OFFICIAL SOUND DATA Nicolaas Hamman Album Discussions 1 Dec 5, 2019 09:52 AM
Question about "Products Represented" category Raizen1984 Questions and Comments 2 Jul 28, 2010 02:01 PM
Suggestion: "Sort by" switches in search results Anonymous Questions and Comments 6 Apr 16, 2010 06:48 PM
Merge "Independent" and "Doujin/Fanmade" publisher types back into "Doujin/Indie"? Gigablah Questions and Comments 20 Feb 15, 2010 07:34 PM