The ERN standard has recently been significantly updated. Below is a list of the main changes between ERN 3.8.2 and ERN 4.1 and the benefit that these changes bring to users of the ERN standard. Overall it can be said that ERN-4 is more efficient than ERN-3 as the need to duplicate information has been greatly reduced – which has a beneficial side effect of decreasing the potential for confusion of where what information needs to be placed. In addition, the inclusion of a PartyList makes disambiguating artist and contributors much easier.

One of the changes is superficial: ERN-4 is only supported by one Profile standard: The Release Profiles describing common Release Types. The Business Profile standard has partly been amalgamated into the core ERN-4 standard. Some of the provisions of the ERN-3 Business Profiles will be provided on the DDEX Knowledge Base as a non-normative document at some stage.

Introduction of a PartyList

Parties such as musicians, writers, labels and others will now be collated into a PartyList. Each Party composite within this PartyList can still contain a PartyName and/or a PartyId, just like in ERN-3. And, as with ERN-3, the Party composite can provide different names for different territories as well as names in different languages and in different scripts.

As a consequence of this change, all references to parties in the rest of the NewReleaseMessage, e.g. when listing Contributors to a SoundRecording, now do not provide a name and/or an identifier but only a reference, internal to the message, to a Party composite.

The PartyList was introduced for two reasons: Firstly, having all party information in one place will make ERN messages, on average, smaller as tracks on one release often share writers and/or performers as well as display artist information. The second reason is that the new approach makes it much easier to “disambiguate” artists – which will make help DSPs in making compelling offerings to consumers.

Territorial Differences

ERN-3 and ERN-4 both support the means to communicate territorial differences for the names of artists, titles, for genres and other information (in addition to allowing different Deals for specific Releases). However, the approach differs greatly between ERN-3 and ERN-4:

All of this is, of course, independent from the ability to provide different Deals for different territories; this aspect has not changed between ERN-3 and ERN-4.

The reason for this change is that in most cases only few aspects differ between territories. For example, the parental warning information might differ for a specific Release whereas the artist and contributor names, titles and genre are the same everywhere. In ERN-4 only those elements that actually differ need to be repeated – reducing the amount of data that needs to be repeated.

Track Releases

The third major change between ERN-3 and ERN-4 is the handling of Track Releases.

In ERN-3, all Releases, whether they are “album Releases” or Track Releases, need to be communicated in the same Release composite. As a consequence, the – comparatively simple – Track Releases were handled like – comparatively complex – album Releases. This had the effect that Track Releases needed to be described with, for example, information about the Track Release’s display artist – whereas that information is always already available from the composite describing the Sound Recording or Video that is referenced from the Track Release.

This unnecessary duplication of information is avoided in ERN-4 by the introduction of a TrackRelease composite. In ERN-4, a typical 10-track album would contain exactly one Release composite and 10 TrackRelease composites and while there is still some data duplication possible, the danger of causing confusion has been all but eliminated. The Release and SoundRecording composites, for instance, still both allow DisplayTitle information to be communicated. However, DDEX has introduced a rule stating that the TrackRelease’s DisplayTitle must only be used if the title of the TrackRelease differs from the title of the SoundRecording.

Description of Contributors and Artists

The last main change in ERN-4 is the handling of contributors and artists. There are three reasons for the update:

The consequence of this work is a consistent set of three elements and composites that can be used to describe Releases as well as Resources as follows:

Miscellaneous Simplifications

In addition to the above major changes, a number of smaller changes were made between ERN-3 and ERN-4. These include: