Continuing our look at sources of music metadata ... we now visit MusicBrainz. MusicBrainz is a 'community music metadatabase that attempts to create a comprehensive musc information site.' MusicBrainz has done something that the All Music guide and MusicMoz have not done, they've incorporated music fingerprinting technology that will provide a unique MusicBrainz ID for any music file (regardless of encoding or format).  In some sense, MusicBrainz is a lot like GraceNote or FreeDB in that they focus on providing information required to properly tag an MP3 file, but unlike GraceNote and Freedb they work not just with audio CDs but (in theory) any music track.

The MusicBrainz data is entirely community generated and are released under a creative commons license or into the public domain and is available for download.

MusicBrainz provides detailed album and track information for most mainstream artists.  It doesn't provide much beyond this however.  If you look up a track in MusicBrainz, you'll find:
  • The MusicBrainz ID
  • The track length
  • Link to the album page
  • Link the artist page
If you look up an artist you'll find:
  • A one-liner description (if you are lucky) of the band
  • Links to 'official band homepages' and wikipedia entries
  • Albums lists
  • A limited set of related artists
Notably missing are:
  • Genres
  • Reviews
One interesting bit of information that MusicBrainz provides that is not available anywhere else is a 'lookup count'. For each track, it is possible to find out how many times the database was queried for the track.  This is useful for tracking song popularity.

All in all, MusicBrainz is a real good thing. They provide free access to the data, provide SDKs for apps to use to hookup to the DB, and provide excellent documentation.  Hopefully overtime, the community will be able to fill out some of the gaps in the MusicBrainz data.


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