1. Artists Names

1.1 Main Artists

The main performing artists are referred to by most Digital Merchants as the Primary Artists.

Within the DDEX XML, these artists are credited with the MainArtist role on all content and will be referred to by that title from here on within this guide. For an example of how MainArtists are referred to within DDEX, please refer to the DDEX guide example 1.1 MainArtist.

Standard artist name spellings (full artist name) should be used for all primary artists. In XML, certain special characters (such as "&") must be replaced with their corresponding entity code.

For a full list of Unicode characters, please follow this Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Unicode_characters

Be consistent in your artist name spelling in all instances (e.g., Beyoncé vs. Beyoncè). See the section on Capitalization, Casing, and Abbreviations for additional details on this topic.

Non-classical composers, if listed, should only be listed on the track level credited under the Composer field, except soundtracks and scores (for further details on soundtrack and score composers, please view the Soundtracks & Scores section). Artists should be listed as first name last name, unless otherwise specified by the artist’s native language (see the section on Language for further details).

For example:

  • Kurt Cobain
  • Johnny Cash

Artist names should be submitted as the artist would like them to appear. Middle names, middle initials, maiden names, nicknames, and name suffixes (e.g., Jr.) may be used. Generally, do not abbreviate first or last names. Artist name spelling should remain consistent for all content for an artist, where possible. In some cases, there may be contractual obligations regarding an artist name designation for a particular period of time during the artist’s career (e.g., Puff Daddy vs. Diddy). Please consult the respective Digital Merchant regarding their policies and procedures for artist disambiguation. Additionally, artist names should not include any additional information beyond the name, including role, date, instrument, former band, etc.

CorrectIncorrectIssue causing conflict
Jimi HendrixJimi Hendrix (Guitarist)Includes Instrument
Bob MarleyMarley, BobFormatted as Last, First
OutKastOutcastIncorrect Spelling
Jimmy PageJimmy Page (Of Led Zeppelin)Includes Band Name
Jim MorrisonJim Morrison (1943-1971)Includes Birth and Death Dates
Ludwig van BeethovenL.V. BeethovenUsage of artist initials

NOTE: Even for instances of artist disambiguation like John Williams (Composer) and John Williams (Guitarist), please utilize the MainArtist role functionality for communicating this detail and allow the Digital Merchant to concatenate if needed. Extraneous data attached to artist names can cause significant issues with rights clearance, licensing, and payment processes.

1.2 Various Artists

The best practice for defining “Various Artists” remains unresolved. Alternatively, some suggest ignoring the Album Artist field and instead listing MainArtist artists at the track level. Review the criteria for your Digital Merchant to help ensure accuracy. Many types of albums have four or more artists where it is not appropriate to list the album-level artist as “Various Artists.” This is common in Broadway shows. For example, Kinky Boots Original Broadway Cast is the ideal album-level artist, even though more than four individual performers are listed across the tracks.

Do not use “Various Artists” within the Composer field. If an album is comprised of songs with different composers for each track, refer to your Digital Merchant for their preferred listing method. A common solution is to list the most frequently appearing composer of the album in the Composer field.

When utilizing “Various Artists,” individual artist names should be used as the MainArtist artist at the track-level, with “Various Artists” as the MainArtist artist at the album-level. Generally, aggregators and Digital Merchants will refer to the MainArist field at the track level as the Primary Artist and the MainArtist field at the album level as the Album Artist.

Variations or abbreviations of “Various Artists” (such as “V/A,” “V.A.,” “Various,” “Various Artist,” and “Various”) should not be used as an artist name for English language content. Translated versions of “Various Artists” are acceptable as long as they are consistent with the Album Release’s language.

The following are examples of the acceptable format for “Various Artists” in various languages:

DutchVerchillende Artiesten
GermanVerschiedene Interpreten
ItalianArtisti Vari
PortugueseVários Intérpretes
SpanishVarios Artistas
SwedishBlandade Artister

1.3 Compound Artists

Only one artist name should occupy either the MainArtist (Primary Artist) or FeaturedArtist (Featured Artist) field. Two or more people or groups in one Artist field are called a compound artist. Compound artists prevent the Digital Merchant store from identifying individual artists and prevents an album from appearing on the correct artist page(s).

Generally, aggregators will have an option to “Add an Additional Artist” or “Add an Additional Contributor” which will allow you to input multiple artists without putting them in the same field. This will translate the information to Digital Merchants where they will display the multiple artists to their design standards.

Some Digital Merchants allow other contributors at the track level (e.g., Producer). It is advised to add as much contextual data to your content as possible.

Artists who are generally listed together or as a band are not considered compound artists and must be listed together.

For example:

  • Simon & Garfunkel
  • Anderson Bruford Wakeman Howe
  • Brooks & Dunn
  • Katrina & The Waves
  • Dizzy Gillespie & His Fab Five
  • Hootie & The Blowfish
  • Miles Davis Quintet
  • Lee Fields & The Expressions

For artists with content already available for sale, please consult the respective digital merchant regarding their policies and procedures for artist disambiguation and interoperability.

For fixed ensembles, such as a classical quartet, that may sometimes play with an extra player or a featured player, list the added player as a separate artist (“Ensemble feat. Extra Player”).

See the Classical Metadata Style Guide in the knowledge section of http://www.MusicBiz.org for more information.

DDEX: For an example of how DDEX helps to separate compound artists, please refer to the DDEX guide example 1.2 Compound Artists.

1.4 Featured Artists

In most cases, to be visible in a Digital Merchant store, a non-classical artist should be a MainArtist artist. Additional Artist roles may not be visible in the Digital Merchant store but are usually captured for future use. The artist names that would appear on the spine of a physical CD will most likely be MainArtist artists at the album level. Non-classical composers, if listed, may only be listed on tracks with the exception of Soundtracks and Scores but may still be credited with the Composer role. Featured artists should have the FeaturedArtist role within DDEX (Featured Artist within aggregators).

Terms that indicate additional artist collaboration on a track release — such as “feat.” (for “featuring”) and “with” — when included in the title are generally lowercase and in English. In some instances, a distributor may accept diversions in spelling and capitalization. (e.g., “featuring,” “Featuring,” “Feat,” “w/,” “With,” etc.) In delivery to your Digital Merchant, it is recommended to be consistent in crediting featured artists using only “feat.” and “with.”

Unless contractually obligated, it is advised to credit featured artists for specific tracks at the Artist role level and not add this data to the track or album release title. Some Digital Merchants may choose to concatenate this data to the track or album title.

Keep in mind that FeaturedArtists are rarely used within classical music. For more information on how to approach the use of the FeaturedArtist field within classical music please see the Classical Metadata Style Guide in the knowledge section of http:// www.MusicBiz.org.

NOTE: If an artist is featured on every track on the album, the artist may also be a FeaturedArtist at the album level.

DDEX: For further clarification on how the FeaturedArtist role functions within DDEX, please refer to the DDEX guide example 1.3 Featured Artists. For an in-depth DDEX example on how to handle DisplayArtist and other coding dealing with how artist names are presented within Digital Merchants, please refer to the DDEX guide section 1 Display Artist & Display Artist Names.