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Link Digital-only bands policy change / 2018-09-10 12:12

Since we first started to allow digital-only artists on MA over five years ago, the staff has tried to abide by a number of guidelines that were designed to prevent the Archives from getting flooded with fleeting online projects that never put out any substantial releases. These guidelines were used because while the physical release rule has long served us well as a measuring stick of eligible bands, simply extending the general criteria of this approach to digital work comes with a number of issues; issues mainly stemming from the potentially ephemeral nature of internet releases and the relative ease of putting together an album compromising the original intent behind the physical release rule.

Out of the digital release guidelines, the most visible is almost definitely the length requirement. This requirement was intended as a rough point of orientation, as a more concrete representation of a "proper" and "serious" album that mods could consistently apply when faced with hundreds of new bands in the queue. As such it was also only one of a number of other attributes that seemed reasonable to expect from professional (enough) output. Over the years, however, the length requirement has taken on an undue amount of significance and has essentially become the primary benchmark for bands, in many cases undermining the "spirit" behind its conception. To make things worse, the "needed" length of a digital release has become a constant source of misunderstandings, inconsistent definitions and frustration, both amongst our userbase and staff-internally.

Over the past few months we have discussed this problem amongst the staff and the bottomline is this: The length aspect is going to be greatly deemphasised when it comes to eligible digital-only bands. In turn, we will endeavour to better assess a project's apparent level of dedication, professionalism and distribution effort by way of teamwork and discussion between mods. Ideally, as much as possible, if a band is acceptable with a physical release, it should be acceptable with a digital one as well.

The relevant rules section should be updated soon with more details and pointers to reflect this change in policy. Note that rough demos and singles are still (generally) not sufficient and that one of the foremost requirements for a release remains that there is a full download option for the everyday music explorer, i.e. no streams or downloads hidden behind walls of registration or other unreasonable hoops to jump through.

Thank you for your continued contributions.

-Azmodes