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For instance I have two tables in a music database.

Table album and table track.

Each track record has (amongst other things), an album_id and an artist_id

Each album record has a unique album_id

In order to spot which albums are by 'various artists' I want to count the number of distinct artist_id's which belong to each album.

Such that two or more track records with the same album_id but with differing artist_id's should signal that I can flag the album as 'various artists'

I can do it with multiple queries but I'm seeking the elegant all in one query.

  • So, you want a result with all the album_id that have more than 1 artist? All just count how many (such albums) exist? – ypercubeᵀᴹ Aug 8 '14 at 11:38
  • And what is your DBMS? SQL-Server, MySQL, Oracle, Postgres, ...? – ypercubeᵀᴹ Aug 8 '14 at 11:44
  • A result with all the album_id's – user45244 Aug 8 '14 at 11:53
  • Sorry, forget to answer DBMS question it's MySQL – user45244 Aug 8 '14 at 11:56
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There are various ways to solve this problem, but with a composite index on (album_id, artist_id) most DBMS will manage to use only this index (a full index scan) with the following query and thus be quite efficient:

SELECT album_id
FROM track
GROUP BY album_id
HAVING MIN(artist_id) < MAX(artist_id) ;

If you also want the number of artists per album, you can add COUNT(DISTINCT artist_id) in the select list.


A less obfuscated alternative condition is to use (which could be less efficient than the above MIN < MAX method):

HAVING COUNT(DISTINCT artist_id) > 1 ;
  • Thanks again for your help. This did the trick. I'd be interested to see other solutions out of curiosity. – user45244 Aug 8 '14 at 20:13

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