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What Is A Label?
In Discogs, a release's "label" is the overall brand that the release is associated with. In this context, a brand is a consistent marketing identity that is associated with multiple releases by one or more artists.
Most brands (labels) have a name and an associated logo: a unique, recognizable image or text treatment that appears in the same form on multiple releases, and which often incorporates the brand (label) name.
Sometimes a brand (label) name is the same as the incorporated business name of the company that owns it, but more often the brand (label) name is a shorter version of that name, or completely unrelated to the company name. For example:
- The company General Motors Corporation releases items under the Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick brands.
- The company Island Records, Inc. releases items on the Island, Mango and 4th+B'Way labels.
A single brand (label) may be used by more than one actual company. For example:
- The Epic brand (label) is used by companies that include CBS Records, CBS Disques S.A. and CBS United Kingdom Ltd..
From here on out, we'll just use the word label. When you see it, keep thinking brand in the back of your head.
Determining If A Company Named On A Release Is A/The Label
A company should almost always be entered as a release's label if:
- The company name and/or logo appear on the spine of the release.
- The design of the release's label (center label on vinyl, non-data side on CDs) is:
- Clearly associated with a specific company, and
- Appears in the same or similar form on other releases.
- The company's logo appears on the release's label, but less prominently than another company's logo or label design.
- The fine print on the release included the text "from the <company name> release <album title>", or something substantially similar. In this context, <company name> is virtually always the name of the release's label.
Determining If A Company Named On A Release Is NOT A/The Label
A company should almost never be entered as a release's label if its name only appears in the fine print on the release, for example:
- Following a © or ℗ character. The company named owns the copyright to the release (©) or the copyright to the performances included on that release (℗). The company named may be a record label, but it is not necessarily the label that issued the release.
- Following the words "Manufactured By", "Marketed By", "Distributed By", etc. Again, these roles may be played by a record company, but unless that company's branding also appears more prominently somewhere else on the release, it should not be listed as the release's label.
DJ Rap: "Bad Girl" (US CD Single)
- Release spine: "44K 79140", "DJ RAP", "BAD GIRL", "COLUMBIA"
- Back cover and CD label: COLUMBIA and Higher Ground logos.
- CD label: "Original versions available on the forthcoming Higher Ground/Columbia release Learning Curve (69553)" "44K 79140/©1999 Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd./℗ 1998 Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd."
- Back cover: "© 1999 Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd./℗ 1998 Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd./Manufactured by Columbia Records/550 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022-3211"
Verdict: The labels for this release are Higher Ground and Columbia. Higher Ground does not appear on the spine, but the logos of both companies appear on the back cover and CD label, and the fine print refers to both companies in the context of a forthcoming release. Sony Music Entertainment (UK) Ltd. is only the copyright holder. 44K 79140 should be listed as the catalog number for both labels.
Modern English: After The Snow (US CD)
- Release spine:
- "9 45088-2"
- "MODERN ENGLISH After The Snow"
- Logos on label/back cover:
- 4AD logo
- "Compact Disc Digital Audio" logo
- Fine Print:
- "4·A·D, 8533 MELROSE AVE., SUITE B, LOS ANGELES, CA 90069-5113. MANUFACTURED AND DISTRIBUTED BY WARNER BROS. RECORDS INC., A TIME WARNER COMPANY. © 1992 4·A·D. ℗ 1982, 1983, 1992 4·A·D. MADE IN USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED."
Verdict: The label for this release is 4AD. The catalog number is in Warner Bros. format because Warner Bros. distributed the release, but Warner Bros. is not the release's label because their branding/logo is not used.