MusicBrainz is a user-maintained open community that collects, and makes available to the public, music metadata in the form of a relational database.
MusicBrainz was initially created by Robert Kaye in response to Gracenote taking over the free CDDB project and charging people for access to the (what up till that point had been free) data. The MusicBrainz community has grown considerably since then, and the project has expanded its scope from being a CDDB replacement to a true "Wikipedia for music".
What data does MusicBrainz collect?
MusicBrainz collects a vast amount of music metadata, far more than the traditional artist/album/track model, for a complete list see the MusicBrainz Database page. All of the data in MusicBrainz is contributed to, and maintained by, its users - who follow community written style guidelines when editing to help ensure a standard of quality.
The database is made available by MusicBrainz to download for free by the general public. Some portions of the data are placed into the public domain and some portions are covered by a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
If you come across a mistake in the database feel free to create an account and fix it!
MusicBrainz provides data about recordings, not the music itself.
MusicBrainz does not condone copyright infringement and will not help you find a place to illegally download copyrighted works.
What can I do with the database?
Users can browse and use our database to...
- ...find what music their favourite artists have published.
- ...find out which albums they're missing from their personal collection to complete an artist discography (using MusicBrainz Collections).
- ...receive notifications about upcoming album releases.
- ...examine (if data is available) who exactly is credited on an album, or even on a track.
- ...contribute their own data.
- ...discover completely new music!
Another usage scenario is the lookup of information by media players. Most audio CDs do not contain the recording's metadata on the physical media, but MusicBrainz can use the digital characteristics of the CD (i.e. number of tracks, the length of the tracks) to look up the metadata and use this information to enhance the listening experience.
The database - and its ability to uniquely identify music - enables non-ambiguous communication and discussion about music, and allows other services to be built on top of the MusicBrainz database.
- For a complete list of products, see our products page.
MusicBrainz takes its database service one step further by providing several products and services that build on top of it. These products and services are all open source and/or free for non-commercial use.
MusicBrainz Picard is MusicBrainz' currently supported tagging application.
Picard uses an album oriented tagging concept, as opposed to the track/file oriented concept used by the previous tagger (Classic Tagger). Picard is written in Python and makes use of cross-platform libraries, this allows the same code to run on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
Whether you're a user or a developer, the MusicBrainz Server is available to download and setup.
Once setup, the server can make use of MusicBrainz' live data feed in order to keep it up to date with the latest changes being made to the main database.
XML web service
MusicBrainz provides a comprehensive XML web service, and a client library that contains support for several different development languages. These can be used to query MusicBrainz data from any application which is able to parse XML.
Live data feed
MusicBrainz provides a live data feed for mirror servers, free of charge for non-commercial users. MusicBrainz licenses this data feed for commercial use.
- For more details on this topic, see our license page.
Any user that contributes to MusicBrainz should be aware that their contributions will be made available to the public under the licenses described below.
Furthermore, MusicBrainz users give the MetaBrainz Foundation the right to license this data for commercial use.
The data collected by the MusicBrainz project falls into two categories explained below.
The income from these licenses keeps MusicBrainz running and covers the paychecks of paid MusicBrainz developers.
Public domain data
MusicBrainz' core data is placed in the public domain, for anyone to download and use any way they see fit.
The core data consists of all the factual information (eg. artists, albums, tracks, etc.) contained in the database.
Creative Commons licensed data
The remaining portions of the MusicBrainz data are released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 license.
This allows non commercial use of the MusicBrainz data as long as MusicBrainz is given credit and that derivative works, works based on MusicBrainz' CC licensed data, are also made available under the same license.
The CC licensed data consists of non-factual information that users have added to the database such as annotations, folksonomy tags, ratings and wiki documentation; in addition the live data feed is also published under the CC license.
- Read our Social Contract.
MusicBrainz is a project of the MetaBrainz Foundation, a 501.(c).3 tax-exempt non-profit based in San Luis Obispo, California.
The MetaBrainz Foundation was founded in 2005 to provide a legal entity for the MusicBrainz project to operate under.
Robert Kaye, the executive director of the MetaBrainz Foundation, originally managed MusicBrainz as a private project from its inception in the fall of 2000 until the project was turned over to the new company in December 2005.
- You do not have to provide any personal data to be able to browse the contents of the MusicBrainz database.
- You do not have to provide any personally-identifying information if you choose not to.
- Any personal information you choose to provide will not be revealed to anyone else.
- Highfield, Ashley. "Keynote speech given at IEA Future Of Broadcasting Conference", BBC Press Office, 2007-06-27. Retrieved on 2009-10-30.