SARDIN, Sonata Arctica Release Database In the Net, is a database for all Sonata Arctica releases, a source for collectors' information. The aim of SARDIN is clear - to list all different versions of all Sonata Arctica releases. Needless to say, it's pretty hard to make the list perfect. The list doesn't have and will not have any information about a) compilations containing SA songs b) [live] bootlegs c) demos d) other non-official releases e) non-Sonata Arctica releases (ie. side projects and other bands featuring SA members or guest appearances).
SARDIN has nothing to with any fish (there is a fish called sardine), the name is just an abbreviation of the actual (long) name. It's probably easier to talk about SARDIN than "Sonata Arctica Release..." etc.
It was during the year 2003 when I tried to find some information about two specific releases. I searched the Internet quite a long time and couldn't find the details I was searching for. I became frustrated: What, nobody knows what are the differences between these two editions? So, I decided to fulfill the gap myself. Luckily I was - and still am - a collector of SA albums, so the beginning was easy. I just scanned the CDs, album covers and some detail views and built a web site. After making some 30 or so entries to the release database, I realized that it was just the easiest part of this all. Finding the major releases and catalog numbers were pretty much a piece of cake.
The next thing was to gather information about more rare releases (including Russian/Poland c-cassette (MC) versions, Korean/Taiwanese versions, all the different versions from South America, different pressings from the same label, promotional copies, Japanese samples, non-commercial releases such as freebie promos given in concerts or by retailers...) and the rest of the catalog numbers. This was much harder, and I yet believe all of the non-major releases aren't still listed here. I've so far done what's been possible for me with the help of many precious people.
Third thing was to get pictures about every release. This became the hardest part. I don't personally own even nearly all of the releases listed and shown here, and I don't know either anyone who has them all or even majority of them. So, I've been just searching people who got some releases I don't. Luckily for me, I found a certain person, Jarmo Havukunnas, who happened to be even more fanatic collector than I am. He assisted me with a huge amount of pictures and information! Without him this database wouldn't be the same.
Finally, just by contacting people (whom I've known to be SA collectors; whom I've seen to sell rare SA albums at Ebay; by contacting many different labels etc.) I've managed to gather some extra information and more additional details.
During the summer 2004 I moved the whole thing to an actual (SQL) database. It took quite a long time until the database-based version was ready to replace the old static pages. Since September 2004, all information comes directly from the database, all pages are dynamic. Also, updating is now really easy and flexible. The outlook and layout are though the same, but adding and editing information plus handling all the data is now extremely easy.
Since April 2006 I updated the SARDIN with a possibility to check the official chart positions (of the Finnish releases). If you know the URL for your local (French, German, you name it) official charts, and there is a way of listing all the Sonata Arctica releases, please drop me a note. Also, the Finnish releases awarded with gold disc now have a link to the database of record sales of the gold discs in Finland, in case of someone is interested of these details.
It took quite a long time from the really beginning until this point. Is it worth it, is it worth all the work? Who knows. If you, dear reader and fellow collector, are happy about the information, then the work has been worth of it all. I don't need any benefit nor glory - all I want is to distribute the information I've been able to gather so far. And if I can make some people happy, then I'm happy too! If I'd knew from the very beginning how much work SARDIN would need, I'd probably never started of making it ;)
If the release is official, then - wait a bit more. Patience is the key. All official releases will be added here as soon as possible. (Remember, the list is made and maintained by an individual who has also other interests like studying, working and having a normal life.)
See also: question #1, question #4.
Some terms which are used on the database and their explanations:
because Spinefarm (the label SA made their releases from the UnOpened single to the Winterheart's Guild and Broken single) doesn't have a worldwide distribution by itself, many other labels and/or distributors have licensed the releases to be distributed in certain countries and/or regions. The major distributors are Century Media (USA and Europe), Marquee/Avalon (Asia) and NEMS (South America), with few exceptions. With Nuclear Blast, the situation is almost the same.
More detailed explanation:
In Finland, Spinefarm handles the distribution of the releases by itself (and later with assistance of Universal, I suppose). Otherwise Europe was mainly handled by Century Media and since Don't Say A Word by Nuclear Blast, with an exception of some countries where the albums are licensed by other (usually small) labels. In France the distribution is made by NTS (licensed directly from Spinefarm, usually differes clearly from the Century Media releases) until it went bankrupt and Replica Records (Reckoning Night), in Russia / CIS states by Phono records and in Poland by Mystic Records. Major labels don't that often dare to release the CD where the piracy numbers are high (Eastern Europe mainly) so the distribution and licensing have to be made by some of the local labels. Usually these releases are cheaper (and don't always have the full booklet or the booklet is black and white; but the releases still might contain some bonus tracks, in general, to boost up the salest) and there's quite limited quantities available.
Avalon/Marquee is the main distributor in Asia, usually it seems to license the rights for the releases for the whole Asia but distribute themselves only for Japanese markets. That's why from example Korean versions are identical to the Japanese ones - they usually don't license the album directly from Spinefarm but they sublicense it from Avalon/Marquee.
In South America it's generally the same thing, but with more exceptions. Though Laser Company has licensed something to be distributed in Brazil, there can be still found NEMS releases on the same country, sometimes with even different track list or with other differences. With Winterheart's Guild and Songs Of Silence, Universal has been also distributing the albums in South America. Pretty complex, ehh? And to add some more spices to the complexity, NEMS have released sometimes more than one different versions of the same album (see Successor, Silence) with exactly the same catalog number!
Good question - the answer isn't always so simple. It depends on what you are collecting. Speaking of rarity, the first edition of the single UnOpened (about 200 copies) and the blue vinyl version of Ecliptica (250 copies) are the most uncommon items. The next item on the list is probably the digipak version of Silence, released by NEMS. I personally found it by accident from one online shop, and have seen it for sale only once after that. If you can find this, be very happy since it's extremely hard to find. I though have no idea how many copies of the digipak version have been made - 42, 100, 500, 1000 or 42 billions, no clue about it. These three items are really rare - keep your eyes open and cross your fingers if you want one of these to your collection.
Other more-or-less rare versions are all the singles, though there's probably thousands (but less than 5000, since none of them has gotten a gold disc award and the Finnish limit is 5000 sold copies) of those sold. They're still hard to find, especially outside Finland. The French promo single, Live at Provinssirock 3-track sampler is also quite uncommon. And talking about promotional copies - all the other promotional copies are rare, too. With the rare Japanese "samples" the next hardest ones to find are probably the promotional copies by Spinefarm and Century Media's European promos being probably the easiest ones.
Import albums - Asia: Japanese editions are the most expensive but easiest to find. Korean editions are pretty much cheaper but you don't see them every day. Taiwanese editions doesn't seem to exist, the local label (Magnum Records) has so far only imported the albums directly from the label. Thus, the albums are available in Taiwan but it's not a different version. Japanese and especially Korean editions can be found sometimes via Ebay or even via local (importing) retailers.
Import albums - Europe: Russian and Polish editions are extremely hard to find. Usually these are released by quite a small label in quite small amounts, and once they are sold out, they'll become even harder to find. There are some online shops which focus on the Russian editions, for example. Prices are usually quite cheap.
I do not say SARDIN is error-free and perfect - vice versa, I admit there muste be more or less errors, misinformation and so on. I do not personally have all the versions listed on the database, so I have to rely on the information I've gathered on various sources. In case of you find something that isn't true or have more information about some release(s), please feel free to contact me. I really appreciate any help I can get, and so does all the other collectors.
Also, if you have a scanner and can acquire better better image for some release, please do it. Some of the images aren't the best possible quality, but it's still better idea to have SOME image than to have no image at all! Please send me an email and tell what images you are able to acquire BEFORE sending any file attachments.
Every submission of any information will be highly appreciated. If you know something that you can't find here, your help is welcome. This includes, but isn't limited to:
I try to update SARDIN as soon as possible when I have some information. I've created my own publishing system, ie. there's no need to edit any files since all information is in the database and all gathered information will be available instantly.
I though have a so-called "life"; a girlfriend, studies to do, work to do, other hobbies and so on. I can't always promise I send all information online instantly, since SARDIN isn't and won't be my #1 priority. Anyway, I will be updating SARDIN as often as possible whenever I have any new information. There might still be long delays before I've finally updated something I've been hinted a long time ago - I apologize that.
I also update the php code every now and then, by tweaking it and like in April 2006, adding additional stuff like the chart positions and the record sales. If there's something you want to see in SARDIN (like, some new features), do drop me a note.
There might be a larger update during the summer of 2006, if I manage to find enough time. I have had an insight about what could be done, but I can't yet promise if I know how to code it (I'm no PHP guru) or if I truly have time for it. But let's wait and see...