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Multi-artist support for non-MusicBrainz-tagged content


The following terminology is used throughout this spec:

Join phrase

The token used to split a list of artists and represent their role in content


An album or single. In Funkwhale a release is represented by the Album model


A single track as part of an album or single. In Funkwhale, a recording is represented by the Track model

Proposed solution

To support multi-artist content, a new ArtistCredit model should be added to house contributing artist information, including links to Artist models and details about credited names and join phrases. The ArtistCredit model should link to Album and Track entries using a ForeignKey relationship to allow multiple artist_credit entries on each Album and Track. The existing artist field in Album and Track models is deprecated in favor of the new artist_credit field.

To account for content tagged in tagged in systems other than MusicBrainz, a parse_credit strategy should be used to parse artist credit from a file’s metadata using join phrase parsing.

Feature behavior

The workflow for ArtistCredit population goes as follows:

flowchart TD upload([The user uploads content to Funkwhale]) upload --> read(Funkwhale reads the file tags of each release/recording) read --> mb-tagged{Does the content have a MusicBrainz ID?} mb-tagged -->|no| parse(Funkwhale parses the artists tag\nand splits the artist at any tokens\n in the join phrase list) parse --> artist(Funkwhale creates Artist entries for any\nartists that aren't present in the database) artist --> model(Funkwhale stores the <code>artist_credit</code> information\nfor each release/recording) model --> display([Funkwhale displays the credit for each release/recording\nin the web app/API representation])


The backend is responsible for

  1. Tokenizing artist tags in the file’s metadata and creating Artist entries for new artists

  2. Creating ArtistCredit entries for each unique combination of artist_id, credit, and joinphrase

  3. Adding the ArtistCredit links to Track and Album entries

The artist_credit entries must be linked sequentially to preserve ordering. For each entry, Funkwhale should query for an existing ArtistCredit entry and return it if found, or create a new one and return the new entry. This ensures that artist credit information is presented in the same order as in the tags.

Data model

A new ArtistCredit model needs to hold the contributing artist information. This model contains the following fields:

  • The Funkwhale artist_id of the artist associated with the release or recording

  • The credit representing the credited name of the artist as given for the release or recording

  • The joinphrase associated with the artist (for example: " feat. ", " & ")

classDiagram direction LR class Album { String title ArtistCredit artist_credit Date release_date String release_group_id Attachment attachment_cover String type Actor attributed_to TaggedItem tagged_items Fetch fetches Content description List api_includes String api String federation_namespace MusicBrainz musicbrainz_model String musicbrainz_mapping } class Track { UUID mbid String title ArtistCredit artist_credit Integer disc_number Integer position Album album License license Actor attributed_to String copyright Attachment attachment_cover Integer downloads_count String federation_namespace String musicbrainz_model String api List api_includes MusicBrainz musicbrainz_mapping String import_hooks QuerySet objects Fetch fetches } class Artist { String name String federation_namespace String musicbrainz_model Object musicbrainz_mapping Actor attributed_to TaggedItem tagged_items Fetch fetches Content description Attachment attachment_cover String content_category Date modification_date String api QuerySet objects } class ArtistCredit { Artist artist_id String credit String joinphrase } Track "1" --> Album : album Track "1..*" --> ArtistCredit : artist_credit Album "1..*" --> ArtistCredit : artist_credit ArtistCredit "1" --> Artist : Artist


On the backend, the workflow for fetching ArtistCredit information is as follows:

sequenceDiagram ArtistCredit ->> parse_credit: Parse credit from tags parse_credit -->> ArtistCredit: Return credit information

Funkwhale should provide the following to enable artist parsing in non-MusicBrainz-tagged content:

  1. A sensible list of default join phrases that are commonly found in artist tags

  2. A setting to enable admins to override or add to the list of join phrases

Funkwhale should tokenize the ALBUMARTIST and ARTIST fields using a list of join phrases. For each token in the list, Funkwhale should do the following:

  1. Store content split at the join phrase token as the credit

  2. Search for any artist with the same name as the credit and store the id as the artist_id

    • If no existing artist is found, create a new artist and return the ID as artist_id

  3. Store the join phrase token that it split at as the joinphrase

  4. Create an ArtistCredit object for each unique combination of artist_id, credit, and joinphrase

  5. If a matching ArtistCredit entry is found, Funkwhale should link to this

sequenceDiagram Upload ->> parse_content: Read file metadata loop For each artist name parse_content ->> Artist: Search Artist entries Artist -->> parse_content: Return entry (if exists) parse_content ->> Artist: Create Artist entry (if none found) end loop For each unique artist credit combination parse_content ->> ArtistCredit: Search ArtistCredit entries ArtistCredit -->> parse_content: Return entry (if exists) parse_content ->> ArtistCredit: Create ArtistCredit entry (if none found) parse_content ->> Track: Create Track with artist_credit entries parse_content ->> Album: Create Album with artist_credit entries end

Funkwhale should do the following automatically:

  • Trim whitespace from the artist credit

  • Preserve whitespace around both sides of the joinphrase for readability

  • Use an empty string ("") as the joinphrase for the last entry in the list

For example, given a list of join phrases like this:

  • $, |, &, /, feat.

And the following tags:




Tommy J. & Bobby Forth


Tommy J. feat. Robin Devil, Jerry Sabbath & Sammy Burns

Funkwhale would create the following ArtistCredit entries for the Album:







Tommy J.




Bobby Forth

And the following for the Track:







Tommy J.

“ feat. “



Robin Devil

“, “



Jerry Sabbath

“ & “



Sammy Burns


API behavior

The Funkwhale API needs to return artist credit information in a way that is easily consumed by a client.

Endpoints should include a credited_artist filter that allows a client to return results for which artists are credited. This filter should take a list of IDs.

To return any albums where the artist is listed in the artist_credit field, you can filter by the artist_id field using the credited_artist filter:,6452

The credit field of the artist_credit object must also be searchable using a standard query:


To ensure all content has artist_credit information, an initial migration should copy the current artist information into an ArtistCredit object for each Album and Track with the following mapping:

  • artist_id = Artist id

  • credit = Artist name

  • joinphrase = ""

Each album/track must have at least one artist_credit entry listed against it.


To prevent issues with tagging, the user should be presented a summary of artist credits that are separated using the parse_credit strategy.

Once the upload has been processed by the server, the user should be shown a summary of the uploaded content with artists listed against each recording and release. The user should then be able to amend these results and send a request to update the values. Upon receiving a new value, the server should perform the same deduplication it performs during a new upload.

  1. The user uploads new content to Funkwhale

  2. Funkwhale parses the artist credits and saves the new credit objects in case the upload is interrupted

  3. Funkwhale displays a summary of the changes

    1. If the results are correct, the user accepts the changes and finishes the upload

    2. If the results are incorrect, the user modifies the artist credits and submits the changes

flowchart TD upload([The user uploads content to Funkwhale]) upload --> read(Funkwhale reads the file tags of each release/recording) read --> parse(Funkwhale parses the artists tag\nand splits the artist at any tokens\n in the join phrase list) parse --> artist(Funkwhale creates Artist entries for any\nartists that aren't present in the database) artist --> model(Funkwhale stores the artist_credit information\nfor each release/recording) model --> verify(Funkwhale displays the results to the user) verify --> correct{Are the artist tags correct?} correct -->|no| tweak(The user corrects the details and\nsubmits the new information to Funkwhale) tweak & correct -->|yes| finish(The user finishes the upload process)

Representation in releases and tracks

The frontend should use the artist_credit field to populate artist links on releases and tracks. Credited names and join phrases must be preserved to line up with the artists’ intent.

The frontend should format the results as follows for each artist:

  <a href="{funkwhale_url}/library/artists/{artist_id}">{credit}</a>{joinphrase}

For example, given the following artist_credit response:

    "artist_id": 25,
    "credit": "Jonathan Coulton",
    "joinphrase": " & "
    "artist_id": 395,
    "credit": "John Roderick",
    "joinphrase": ""

The frontend would render the following:

  <a href="">Jonathan Coulton</a> &
  <a href="">John Roderick</a>

“Also appears in” section

To keep artist discographies properly catalogued, only albums attributed to the artist, not albums with tracks featuring the artist, should appear in the “Albums by” section of the artist page.

Releases to which the artist has contributed should be separated into a new section labeled “Also appears in”. This ensures that it is easy to discover content to which an artist has contributed while also prioritizing their own content on the artist page.

“Compilations” page

The “Various Artists” artist is a special artist used in MusicBrainz to catalogue compilation content not attributed primarily to a specific artist or artists. This artist is widely used in Funkwhale as the Album Artist tag for compilation content. To preserve this content and make compilation content easier to find, we should create a special “Compilations” page to house compilation content.


The following needs to be documented:

  • The artist splitting mechanism. Meaningful examples should be provided to help users tag their content

  • The environment setting to override the join phrase list

  • Any tasks or script functions which are created to automate the update of historical content


  • Admin panel

  • App frontend

  • CLI

Responsible parties

  • The backend developers in the Development group are responsible for:

    • Creating the new ArtistCredit model

    • Updating the Album and Track models to link to ArtistCredit entries

    • Creating the strategies for populating ArtistCredit during the upload process

    • Updating the API/creating new endpoints

    • Creating the database migration to add the new field and that artist information is copied over

  • The frontend developers in the Development group are responsible for:

    • Updating the artist representations in the Album and Track pages to use the new artist_credit field in the API response

    • Creating the new “Also appears in” section for the artist discography pages

    • Creating a workflow to enable users to verify uploaded data and fix any broken artist credits

  • The Design group is responsible for:

    • Providing designs for how multi-artist content should be rendered responsively

    • Providing designs for the new “Compilations” page

    • Providing designs for the updated Artist page

  • The Documentation group is responsible for:

    • Documenting the new feature behavior

    • Documenting the new environment settings

    • Providing docstrings for API development

Open questions

  • What should be used as the default join words list?

  • To maintain compatibility with API v1, should we continue to populate the artist tag on Track and Album entries with the first credited artist?

Minimum viable product

The MVP for this product is an implementation of the backend behavior. It should:

  1. Set up the new models

  2. Create the database migration

  3. Implement the token splitting and data fetching for new files

Next steps

  1. Create a script that enables admins to update entries in the database

  2. Create a task that updates files imported in-place